Almost 60% of the human body consists of water. The brain and heart have 73% water. Even bones are composed of 31% water. It is truly said that water is life.(1) Each day humans should drink a certain quantity of water. An adult must drink sufficient quantity of water to stay well hydrated. In the summers, ideally the amount must be increased by a couple of liters more.
We all know the role water plays in our digestive system. We must have an adequate amount of water to not only keep our body hydrated but also to break down our food and help our body to absorb important nutrients. Water helps to digest food materials easily. Some experts in the domain have pointed out that having water along with food or during meal times can actually help our digestive system. However, some experts opine otherwise. They opine that water intake while having food reduces the secretion of saliva and several other enzymes. This can hinder the breaking down of food materials properly. However, several studies have opposite opinions. These studies suggest that water intake has no relationship with enzyme secretion or breaking down of food materials.(2) Let us dive into the topic further to have a deeper understanding.
Does Drinking Water while Eating Affect Digestion?
There is yet again another school of opinion holders who believe that having water along with your meals can be actually adverse for your digestive system. When you consume water with your food, the water goes inside your stomach and percolates faster than food. This water can mix with your stomach acids and juices used for digestion and can dilute them in no time. It is thought that when your actual food goes into the stomach cavity and then into the small intestine it does not get the proper quality of digestive enzymes that can actually break down the food. This is why you can have the food sitting in your stomach for a longer duration which can hurt the overall digestive system in a big way. However, there is no research yet that supports this opinion.
Recent investigations have proven the point that having water at least thirty minutes before mealtimes and also small sips during the meal can help in the weight loss process. By doing this you actually fill a good part of your stomach cavity with water, which is why your food craving will be much less. This helps in consuming a lesser number of calories, which can help in cutting down your weight in a big way.(3)
On the contrary, doctors have confirmed that people who are suffering from the condition of acid reflux must stay away from the habit of drinking a lot of water at the time of their meals. This is a practice that actually increases the pressure exerted by the stomach cavity and makes matters worse for people who are already suffering from the condition of GERD. Increased pressure would lead to not closing of the esophageal flap properly leading to the acid entering the food pipe.(4) This is very similar to what happens when a person with GERD overeats. However, small sips of plain water are thought to be helpful.
On a closing note, it is important to mention that no findings have been derived from a systematic investigation that can actually establish the fact that drinking water along with food is bad for health. Similarly, some proof can support that the habit is beneficial for us. It actually depends on a person and can vary from person to person. Thus, you must observe your own body system and the way it reacts to the practice and take your call accordingly. If you need water during your meals, drink it in small quantities.