Ayurvedic Remedy: This Simple Morning Beverage Jump-Starts Detox and Repair
When I was a little girl, my dad found it funny to wake my brother, sister, and I up in the morning through various forms of what he referred to as humor, but what I considered harassment. His favorite thing to do was to flip the lights on and off while chanting, “GET UP! Getup-getup! GET UP!” To ensure you get the full picture, the light flickering went along to the beat of his morning tune. Another one of his favorite wake-up calls was ripping the covers off my bed with me still in it. One time, he accidentally pulled the bottom sheet off, which left me in a disheveled heap on the floor. My dad had a love for music, and he enjoyed getting us out of bed by creating impromptu songs to the music of instruments he constructed in the kitchen. A pan in one hand, a wooden spoon in the other. He thought it was hilarious. I thought it was torture!
Though his tactics got me out of bed quickly (mostly because it was the only way to get him to leave me alone), I hated being woken up like that. Being jolted out of a peaceful sleep is a terrible way to start the day. In retrospect, my dad was wickedly funny. Though I don’t yet have children, I do find it hilarious to wake my dog up by tickling his paw hairs. Just thinking about it makes me snicker, just like my dad did. I suppose I can think of worse family patterns.
Alarm Clock Aversion
Fast forward to adulthood. Because I now have such a strong association between my alarm clock and waking up to the relentless clangs of my dad’s make-shift cymbal crafted from a pot and lid (think vintage wind-up monkey), it’s fair to say I’m not a morning person. Neither are my siblings. Go figure. In fact, my sister’s boyfriend jokes that she scowls at him in the morning as if he was the one who caused the sun to rise. Yes, it’s that bad.
I love the weekends. Mostly because alarms are not allowed. Even though I typically wake up around the same time each day, alarm or not, the sheer bliss I experience from waking up naturally, peacefully, and gradually is, well, lovely. Just thinking about it gives me a cozy feeling. You know, when you feel so content and cozy, you have to wiggle a bit because the child-like giddiness takes over your body, even if just for a second.
The palpable differences I experience when waking up naturally as opposed to my anxiety-provoking alarm got me thinking about how this concept applies to our body. What does our body really need upon rising to function and feel its best? The answer, I’ve found, is not only simple and inexpensive, but it’s incredibly effective, while still being comforting. Think of caffeine as that cymbal-playing monkey. Would you want to be awakened every day by that? Stop annoying your body. Give it a nice hug instead. A soft tip-toed whisper, telling your body to gently and gradually wake up and start your day off right. It’s time to say good morning to warm lemon water.
Rising and Shining
Warm lemon water has become my favorite way to start the day. Like most of the health concepts I write about, this is nothing new. It’s actually a ritual in Ayurveda, which is used to gently stimulate digestion for the day and rid the body of any toxins that may have accumulated in the digestive tract overnight. All you need to do is squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a cup of warm water (not too hot, and definitely not boiling). Make it a habit for this to be the very first thing you put into your body in the morning. Why does it have to be warm? Because both very cold and hot drinks add extra work to our body in order to regulate the temperature of the liquid. Why give our system an extra chore in the morning?
When we sleep, our body is working hard to repair and detoxify. It’s no coincidence that we’re greeted every morning with stinky breath, body odor, and crusty eyes. Simply put, this is the aftermath of our body’s elimination of toxins throughout the night. Upon rising, it’s important to allow our body to continue cleansing and, ultimately, stimulate the removal of waste in the form of a bowel movement. Warm lemon water first thing in the morning will help us do just that. Consider it our body’s gentle jumper-cables. Once you get into the habit, you’ll find that you have more energy and clarity in the morning.
In addition to the Ayurvedic principles of sweeping toxins out of the digestive tract, research on the nutritional elements found in lemons are linked to the following health benefits:
- Immune-boosting Properties: Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, which is one of the easiest ways to boost the immune system and enhance iron absorption in the body. Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These features, paired with vitamin C’s ability to neutralize free radicals that are associated with aging and disease, make lemon water an excellent drink for strengthening the immune system.
- Balancing Your Body’s pH: Though lemons may seem acidic due to their sour flavor, they are actually one of the most alkalinizing foods for the body. Lemons contain citric and ascorbic acid, both of which are weak acids that are easily metabolized by the body. This allow the high mineral content of lemon juice to alkalinize the blood, which is crucial to good health and the prevention of chronic body imbalances and disease.
- Digestive Aid: The citrus flavonols found in lemons make them an ideal digestive aid. Lemon juice also stimulates and purifies the liver, which assists in the formation of a crucial digestive secretion in the stomach called hydrochloric acid. Warm lemon water has also been shown to reduce cravings and has internal cleansing properties.
- Healthy Skin: Because lemon water is a known liver stimulant, it helps purge toxins from the blood, which assists in healing and clearing the skin. The vitamin C and other antioxidants found in lemons also fight free radical damage, making warm lemon water an excellent anti-aging tonic. Lemon juice has traditionally been used topically to lighten scars and age spots.
- Natural Healer: The anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin C found in lemons promotes wound healing and maintains healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage. Warm lemon water is an ideal drink to incorporate into your morning regimen in order to promote healing and maintain overall good health.
Skip the Caffeine
Though reaching for caffeine first thing in the morning may seem like an impossible habit to break, it’s really not doing your body any favors. Caffeine affects many of our organs, but it’s particularly hard on the liver, overburdening and decreasing its ability to cleanse toxins from our system and burn fat. I know it may not feel like it because caffeine is so addictive, but starting your day with coffee is actually very counter-productive in terms of ongoing cleansing and good health. Try switching out your morning coffee with warm lemon water, followed by a green smoothie, for at least a couple of weeks, and see how you feel. Your body will certainly start to love you for it once you overcome the caffeine withdrawals, particularly those nasty headaches and overwhelming urges. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results of your gentle wake-up call.