Is Drinking Water While Eating Good For You?



drinkingeatingIs it beneficial to drink while you eat? It seems there are a few schools of thought when it comes to drinking while eating and although there may not necessarily be one right way, it is clear there are some things to avoid.

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.

  • Our mouthes create saliva while eating as it contains digestive enzymes to help break down food. These enzymes are very important in creating a healthy digestive process.
  • Our stomachs contain gastric juices that aid in digestion and are instrumental in killing any bacteria we might consume in the food we eat. It is important these juices function properly as they help break down food and allow the stomach to contract and pulverize food into a state that can be pushed to the small intestine.
  • The liver is also important as once nutrients are taken from the food we eat they are sent through the bloodstream to the liver. From there, the liver distributes the nutrients to different areas of the body. It determines what to keep for later and what to utilize right away. The liver requires an ample amount of water to function and do its job properly.

To Drink or Not to Drink

The main area of debate is whether or not drinking water during a meal is harmful or beneficial to the digestive process. 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.

The Other Side of The Coin

It’s also important to mention that according to Michael F Picco, M.D. and the MayoClinic: “There’s no concern that water will dilute the digestive juices or interfere with digestion. In fact, drinking water during or after a meal actually aids digestion. Water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients. Water also softens stools, which helps prevent constipation.” While they do not make any mention of temperature or amount of water, and don’t reference their statement, it is clear they feel drinking while eating is generally OK.

Tips

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!

Sources:

http://www.ottawawestnutrition.com/category/digestion/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/digestion/AN01776

http://www.uihealthcare.org/Adam/?/HIE%20Multimedia/1/001645

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23 comments on “Is Drinking Water While Eating Good For You?

  1. Mostafa

    Joe. You did a good job writing this article. It is informative, well organized and enjoyable. Thanks.

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  3. Wycliff

    “…a build up of toxic waste can occur no matter what you are eating.”
    Wtf? “Toxic waste”? The body isn’t a nuclear power plant, and unless you’ve recently visited Chernobyl or have drank used engine oil, there are no ‘toxins’ in your body.

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  5. Tulia

    To put it simply: Water and other liquids dilute stomach acids that help you to digest your food. Wait at least 30 minutes to eat after you have drank. After you eat, you should wait at least 30 minutes to drink liquids. This is very important to your health and long term well being.

    • DUDE

      Thanks but I think Ill take the mayo clinic (arguably the best and most advanced hospital in the world) doctor’s advice.

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  9. I suggest doing whatever feels right for Your body. ;)

    • Mike

      what about cakes sugar and all of that??? -.- it feels the most right for your body….

      and what is wrong with this GUIDE I just asked in google is it good to drink water after a meal or in the middle and it LOOKS LIKE A WHOLE BIBLE! why people can’t freaking write 2 lines max to answer a freakin question but instead writing a bible! it’s long and i got like a lot more to learn… if everything will be it will be time wasting

      • JohnJoJohn

        Oh but you have time to comment on the article but not read it?

  10. Health issues aside, the main reason I drink water during a meal is so i don’t choke to death. Food tends to get stuck and go down slowly. Drinking water pushes the food down and allows me to breathe.

    • How about you take smaller bites and chew your food? It sounds like you’re trying to swallow chunks of food like they were taking a pill. If you can’t breathe and eat food without choking, you’re doing it wrong.

      • jahadds

        Some people have medical conditions that impede proper esophageal function and can lead to choking. If drinking water while you it helps, that’s great. But you might mention that at your next checkup.

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  12. According to Chinese and Oriental medicine, drinking large cups of fluids during meals is not a good idea. Small sips of fluids like tea in those small asian cups is fine. Also, drinking ice cold fluids is not recommended – better to go with hot or warm water to aid digestion.

  13. Derek

    so nice to have a site to reference that isn’t trying trying to sell you on anything. just honest info for the welfare of the mind and body. thank you!

  14. IAm YOu

    Indeed it is a very informative site. Joe you are doing an excellent Job. Truly appreciate your time, effort and energy. Love

  15. LAV

    is drinking some else fluids while eating bad

  16. I drink water, a lot of water, over a gallon a day (ever since I was 17 and had kidney stones, 24+ years now). I don’t have any issues with digestion or anything like that, and I drink while I eat. Like David above (or below, however it feeds) stated, it also helps not to overeat, making you feel fuller. In my experiences, I have had nothing but positives from drinking water while eating.

  17. Khaled

    There are many personal trainers that tell you to drink several gallons of water a day if you’re training hard and looking to loose fat. I’ve always questioned that approach, and when I’ve even had half of what they recommended, I spent my day going to the loo, and feeling quite drained by the end of it, so it seems to me that your advice is much more sound!

  18. One thing about drinking water especially before meals is that it tends to make you feel full which is very important to people that tend to over eat Another useful thing about taking water with your food it helps to make people slow down and not eat more than they need,so in my opinion there is a real benefit to drinking water before and during meals.

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