Lemon and water or apple cider vinegar and water have been advocated as a way to boost your digestion for years. But guess what? Most people are doing it wrong.

The idea with using an acidic liquid before meals is to stimulate the production of stomach acid to better digest your food. This can have a positive effect on bloating, constipation, and excess gas - as these things can crop up when your digestion at the stomach stage is a little weak.

Using acid before meals can work wonders for people who experience reflux; as reflux is most often caused by low stomach acid production. That might sound confusing, but what happens is when you have low stomach acid the food still gets coated in acid, but there isn’t enough to fully break it down. So you are left with bits of acid-coated food that the stomach tries to push out, instead it comes up the oesophagus and you feel the burn of the acid coating the food. In this scenario, if the stomach acid is sufficient the food is broken down and leaves the stomach without causing reflux or heartburn.

Many people put lemon juice or ACV in a large glass of warm water and drink before meals, this actually can make your digestion worse. A large glass of water will dilute your stomach acid and in fact, your stomach empties liquid in about 15-20 minutes, so by the time you eat the lemon water is gone anyway.

The right way to use lemon or ACV is to make a small shot. Use the juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons of ACV and add it to 2-3 tbs of hot water. Take this shot 5-10 minutes before your meal.

This way of using lemon or ACV helps to stimulate your digestion, without diluting your preexisting stomach acid and helps to ensure that your stomach acid level stays high when you eat, rather than washing it out with a big glass of water.

If you have been having a big glass of lemon water on waking, try switching to a big cup of warming tea instead. Detox Morning has warming spices to support digestion and will help to hydrate you. Then have your lemon or ACV shot just before your breakfast.

Try to avoid drinking lemon water in large amounts as it can erode the enamel on your teeth. It is safer to choose herbal tea to sip on throughout the day if you don’t enjoy drinking plain water.

Words on Wellness by Jessica Gilijam-Brown 
London based Holistic Nutristionist (BSc) @wellnessbyjessica

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