Do you have a habit of having water while having your food? If yes, many of your known ones must have said that it is not good to have water when having food. Well! Some people say that drinking water or liquids while having meals can be bad for digestion; however, others say that it might cause the accumulation of toxins and may result in a lot of health issues. But again, can having one glass of water along with your food actually have negative effects? Or is it something a simple myth? To know about the same, do read the following array of the article.
The Basic Digestive System:
Before getting into if having water when having food is good or bad, let us take a brief look on the basic processing of the digestive system.
Digestion in the body begins from the buccal cavity or the mouth; as soon as we begin to chew the food. Once we chew, it signals our salivary glands for beginning the production of saliva, which has enzymes that aid you in breaking down the consumed food. Saliva even helps in softening our food, thus preparing it for a smooth travel down our esophagus and straight into the stomach. In the stomach, food gets combined with acidic gastric juice and thus further breaks it down and results in the production of chime or a thick liquid which ultimately moves towards the small intestine’s first part. Chime mixes up with digestive enzymes (produced from the pancreas) and also with the bile acid (produced from the liver), in the small intestine. They break down the chime further, preparing each of the nutrients for their absorption into our bloodstream.
As the chime travels all through the small intestine, most of the nutrients are absorbed and only a very minute portion remains that is absorbed when it reaches our colon. Nutrients are sent to different parts of the body, once they are in our bloodstream. The undigested or the leftover food materials are excreted from the colon via the rectum. This marks the end of the digestion process.
The entire process of digestion can take anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours, depending on what food has been consumed.(1)
Is It Good Or Bad To Have Water When Having Food?
Drinking water when having food might be good or might be really bad at times. So, let us study this topic under the following subheadings for a better understanding.
Is It Good To Have Water When Having Food:
Let us know why it is good to have water when having food.
In Some Cases Water Can Improve Digestion:
Water does help in breaking down large chunks of the consumed food, and thus making it pretty easier for them to travel down the esophagus and reach the stomach. They even help in moving food matter along quite smoothly and thus prevent the bloating as well as digestive issues like constipation.
Apart from this, our stomach secretes water along with the digestive enzymes and gastric acid, during the process of digestion. In fact, water is very much required for promoting proper functioning of the enzymes.
Is it Bad To Have Water When Having Food:
There is absolutely no doubt that water and fluids are beneficial and we must drink enough water every day. However, some people claim that the time when we drink water, does really matter a lot. It is a bad idea to drink them while having food.
Below are some reasons why it is considered to be bad to have water when having food.
Water May Dilute the Stomach Acid and Digestive Enzymes:
There are people who claim that having water when having food dilutes the stomach acid and the digestive enzymes, and thus make it more difficult for our body to digest the food.
However; this claim, implies that your digestive system in not able to adapt its own secretion to the consistency of a meal, and which is absolutely false.(2)
Water May Increase the Speed of Digestion:
One more argument against having water when having food states that liquids or water increases the speed at which the solid foods leave or exit the stomach. This is believed to reduce the meal’s contact time with our digestive enzymes and stomach acid, and this in turn results in poorer digestion.
There was a study that actually analyzed the emptying speed of the stomach and it observed that, although liquid foods pass through our digestive system quicker than solid ones, they have got absolutely no effect on the digestion speed of the solid foods.(3)
Water May Reduce Your Appetite and Calorie Intake:
Having water with food can even aid you to have pause between your bites, and thus allowing you a moment to check in with the hunger as well as fullness signals. This can in turn prevent you from overeating and also can help you in weight loss.
Moreover, it is found from a 12-week of study that participants who took 16 oz or 500 ml of water before each meal were seen losing 4.4 lbs or 2 kgs more than those participants who did not.(4)
Research even explains that having water might speed up the metabolism of the body by around 24 calories for every 8 oz or 250 ml that you take.(5, 6)
Interestingly, when the water was warmed to the body temperature and taken, the amount of calories that it burned actually reduced. This might be because of the fact that the body makes use of more energy by getting the cold water up to the temperature of your body.(4)
However; it must be mentioned that the observations on the water’s effects on body’s metabolism are not at all universal and the effects are quite minor at best.(7, 8)
It must also be strictly noted that in a review study, intake of total calorie was about 8% to 15% higher when people took sugary drinks, juice, or milk along with their meals.(9) This makes it clear that it is only the water that reduces the calorie intake and not other liquids or drinks containing more calories.
Who Should Not Drink Water With Meals?
It is believed that for most individuals, having water when having food is unlikely to negatively affect their digestive system. However, in case you are suffering from GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease then you should avoid drinking water or liquids while having your meals. This is because you add volume to your stomach by drinking water and this can increase the stomach pressure, just like it would do when you have a large or heavy meal. This can result in acid reflux.(10)
We have discussed about if it is good or bad to have water when having food. Now, coming to drinking water along with your meal, it must absolutely depend on your own choice. If you find it painful while drinking water when having food, or if it leaves you feeling bloated or if you suffer any digestive issue, then do not drink water when having food. You can have it before food. However, there is no serious evidence that you must avoid drinking water while having your food.
It is also noted that drinking water or consuming beverages just before or during meals can actually enhance smooth digestion, resulting in making you feel fuller for a longer time.