Ingredients for a good morning
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The way you kick-start your day can be a key determinant of health. If the first thing you do is drink a cup of tea or coffee, it is time for a serious rethink.
“Tea/coffee on an empty stomach increase the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, hence causing acidity. They also work as irritants for the stomach lining,” says Mumbai-based dietitian Sarika Nair, Slim N Happy, Mumbai.
Essentially, tea and coffee are stimulants. “It is a poor habit to consume only tea or coffee without eating anything as the intestinal lining stands to get damaged,” adds Varsha Gorey, senior clinical dietitian, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
What about those who prefer green tea or green coffee? “Polyphenols in green tea have been suggested to accelerate fat metabolism. Chlorogenic acid present in green coffee works similar to green tea. Having such beverages on an empty stomach can cause acidity,” cautions Gorey.
Here are some better ways to start your day.
A glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon on an empty stomach can boost your immunity. “This functions as a mild diuretic, helping you to pass more urine and therefore flushing out unwanted elements from your urinary tract,”explains Nair. “The vitamin C in lemon water betters your immunity, fights damage caused by free radicals on your skin, and pours antioxidants and electrolytes into your body to maximize enzyme function. The warm water aids digestion by waking up your digestive system, and increasing blood flow to the tissues for better blood circulation.”
You can add a bit of honey to the mix if you want. Shazia Khan, nutritionist at Wockhardt hospital, Mira Road, Mumbai, says: “Lukewarm water with lemon and honey as your first sip cleanses the liver, and comes strapped with the goodness of vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.” This drink is not recommended, however, for a diabetic patient, she cautions.
Chamomile tea on an empty stomach is said to be good for health too. “However, there is no scientific evidence for this,” points out Nair. Mucilage present in chamomile tea may help relieve the esophageal inflammation caused by acid reflux. Chamomile may reduce the activity of pepsin in the gastrointestinal tract, creating a protective effect against stomach acid.
Go for Superseeds
You can also start the day with seeds. “On an empty stomach, have methi (fenugreek) seeds soaked overnight. This ingestion will help in improving cholesterol levels and in bettering your digestion,” explains Khan. “Fenugreek seeds help in regulating blood sugar due to their intrinsic content offering of alkaloids and soluble fibre, which aids in the slow absorption of sugar. So an intake of 10-15g is recommended in the form of soaked seeds, but chew these well,” says Gorey.
If you’re diabetic, Vimal Pahuja, diabetologist, Dr LH Hiranandani hospital, Mumbai, suggests that “1-2 tbsp of roasted flax seeds with warm water as your first intake will help in lowering cholesterol levels, normalizing blood pressure and in bringing diabetes under control.”
The Cinnamon Sprinkle
Cinnamon is a highly rated antioxidant. Says Khan, “Lukewarm water with cinnamon powder will lower blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals.” A finger-sized stick soaked overnight or 1-2g with lukewarm water would work very well in pumping antioxidants into your body. The antioxidants aid the repair of damaged tissue in your body, also neutralizing the impact of free radicals.
Almonds can be a great way to start the day too. “It is preferable to eat almonds soaked overnight as your first intake, as compared to dry almonds,” says Dr Khan. “Dry almonds contain an enzyme inhibitor. When you soak the almonds overnight, this enzyme inhibitor is released, making pre-soaked almonds easier to digest.” Additionally, soaked nuts are softer and easier for children and the elderly to chew and consume. But consume the soaked almonds with skin.
Adds Nair:, “This natural protein source is rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eating almonds first thing in the morning sharpens the intellect as they contain two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity.”
Go for fruits
“Consuming a whole fruit is the best way to help ‘break the fast’. Fruits wake up your metabolism with a steady influx of natural fruit sugars,” explains Nair.When you eat fruit on an empty stomach, the digestive system breaks down the sugars in the fruit quickly. Fruit brings in fibre, nutrients like vitamin C, and antioxidants that can reduce possible inflammation in the body. The fibrous content pushes out old waste matter in the digestive tract and gets rid of lower-belly bloating. In addition, eating water-dense fruits like watermelon makes you flush out excess sodium from the body by encouraging urination.”
So plan the morning intake sensibly. Remember, you should give a gap of half an hour between any of these and your breakfast.