Sunday, November 24, 2013

To drink or not to drink during meal???

Our body’s perform a number of processes while eating and digesting so it’s important to understand and consider each while determining if drinking water while eating is best for us. Water is obviously a basic human need but sometimes, it is also necessary to control our drinking habit. 

There's no denying the importance of water in our lives. From daily chores to personal hygiene and consumption, water is essentially really the liquid of life. Not to mention our body is made up of 60% water and we need the liquid to function at optimal health.

Most of us have been told to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. And it has become a habitual thing to consume water with our meals. For many, it's a way to wash down the food and clear our palate. But hold on a second! While hydration is good, downing water with your meals can actually cause a negative reaction in your digestion.

There is no doubting the fact that drinking too much water during meals can interfere with the natural and necessary levels of bile and stomach acid. This would slow the digestion process and reduce the body’s ability to produce enough digestive enzymes to digest foods properly. Without proper digestion, a build up of toxic waste can occur no matter what you are eating. We can apply the same principles when thinking about other beverages we might consume during a meal. In the case of alcoholic drinks and acidic beverages like soda, they tend to dry up the saliva your glands have produced, making it even more difficult to properly digest food. Drinking water or other beverages while they are cold also slows down digestion and can create cramping in some individuals.

It is clear that drinking water before and after you eat aids the digestive process. The general consensus on this is that drinking water about 30 minutes before you eat will help keep the body hydrated which results in optimal digestion. For the liver, this is also important as overall body hydration aids in optimal liver performance. Drinking water about 30 minutes after can also assist in hydrating the body through the latter parts of digestion and replenish the lost liquids from digestion. It is important to note that drinking water during a meal would be more beneficial than not drinking while eating if you are not properly hydrated before hand. Eating while dehydrated can cause the body to have a very tough time digesting food.

In fact, too much water taken during meals can interfere with the natural levels of acid and bile needed in the stomach to properly digest your food. It gets worst if it's cold water, which reportedly can slow down digestion and cause cramping in certain individuals.

Even ancient practices like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda also advice against drinking cold water as it can quench the 'flame' that fuels the digestion and hence, energy is taken away. As a result, our food don't get digested properly and we're robbed of our health.

Again, it comes back to the digestive system – a vital part of our body that we'd need to rely on for many, many years.

Improper digestion can be harmful to you in many different ways. Your body works to turn the food you consume into energy so that you can function properly and perform any number of tasks. This is also the part where your body retrieves essential vitamins and minerals to fuel your wellbeing. When your body fails to retrieve these elements, you begin to suffer and your immune system is compromised.

What if you really must have your water…

The general rule of thumb is not to drink water 15 minutes before you eat until at least an hour after meal. But here are the exceptions:

You can take small sips in between meals to cleanse the palate and maintain hydration without flooding your digestive system. Add a bit of lemon or apple cider vinegar to help aid the process.

Warm over cold
Iced drinks may not be ideal during meals, especially for those with existing digestive issues. If you want something to accompany your meals, choose warm liquids like hot tea or soup.

Make it a habit to drink a glass or two of water 15-30 minutes before meal; this can prevent the urge to consume too much water or even food. Also, stay hydrated throughout the day. When you're well-hydrated, the craving for water during your meals won't be as great.


Based on the information presented, when thinking about how to approach eating meals yourself, there are several tips we can apply. It appears most beneficial to stay hydrated throughout the day and if you must drink while you eat, avoid drinking too much, as well as alcohol and acidic drinks. Drink warm water and drink it sparingly. A small glass will likely not interfere with digestion and by adding a dash of apple cider vinegar or lemon, you can aid in the digestive process further. If you can, you might want to try drinking 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a meal with no drinking during, see how you feel. If it works for you, then stick with what works, if not, adjust accordingly. Listening to and becoming more conscious of your body and body awareness is a great step to take when thinking about new foods and how you treat your body. Sometimes going with what the body feels and wants is more important than staying rigid to information. Things change, the body changes, flow with it. Listen to your body!