Some say not to drink water immediately after meal and some say to drink a glass of water after meal. Which is true and why is it so? Let us explore the reasons behind these statements.
The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also called the digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine—which includes the rectum—and anus. Food enters the mouth and passes to the anus through the hollow organs of the GI tract. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system. The digestive system helps the body digest food. Bacteria in the GI tract, also called gut flora or microbiome, help with digestion. Parts of the nervous and circulatory systems also play roles in the digestive process. Together, a combination of nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of the digestive system completes the complex task of digesting the foods and liquids a person consumes each day.
Digestive System | Source: Pinterest
Our Stomachs have a knack of knowing when you will eat and starts releasing digestive juices immediately. If you drink water (like one full glass or two) before having a meal or immediately after the meal or while having meal, what you are actually doing is diluting the digestive juices being released to digest your food, thereby hindering them from breaking down food. Elaborating on what exactly happens inside you when you glug water during meals, it gets absorbed by the intestinal walls of the stomach. This absorption continues till it becomes concentrated enough for the digestive juices to begin digesting your food. However, due to it getting mixed with water, this concentrated substance is now thicker than the food contents present in your stomach. So less gastric juice will be secreted to digest your food. The result is, undigested food leaks into your system as it gets absorbed through the stomach walls. This will also lead to acid reflux and heart burn.” Drinking water with meals can also cause a surge in your insulin levels, almost like the way high glycemic food would affect you. The more insulin is released in to your blood stream, the higher the chances of you storing fat in your body.
Image Source: Healthy Food Team
Then, how should we drink water while having meals?
Drinking huge quantity of water would cause damage to digestive system but drinking small quantities like about 100ml actually helps in digestion and smooth ens the flow of food through out the digestion process. It is not mandatory to drink water in between meals but in some cases like hiccups, hard food etc we need to consume little water for smoother flow.
Read the following to find out what is the best time in the day to drink water in order to maximise its effectiveness on your body.
1) After waking up
Drink one glass of water after waking up to help activate your internal organs. The water will help to remove any toxins before your first meal of the day.
2) Before a meal
Drink one glass of water 30 minutes before a meal to help digestion. Remember not to drink too soon before or after a meal as the water will dilute the digestive juices. Drink water an hour after the meal to allow the body to absorb the nutrients.
3) Before a bath
Drink one glass of water before taking a bath to help lower your blood pressure.
4) Before sleep
Drink one glass of water an hour before bedtime to replenish any fluid loss that can occur during the night.
Or if you believe the 8 glasses theory then the below schedule will help. Adjust the timings according to your routine.
7:00 – 1st Glass
Drink your first glass of water after you wake up to hydrate your body after a long night’s rest. Take your breakfast at least half an hour after the first glass.
9:00 – 2nd Glass
It’s approximately 1 hour after your breakfast; have a glass of water and start your work day.
11:30 – 3rd Glass
Have a glass of water 30 minutes before lunch.
13:30 – 4th Glass
Drink a glass of water an hour after lunch to allow the nutrients from the food to be better absorbed by your body.
15:00 – 5th Glass
During your tea break, have a non-sweetened drink to freshen your mind.
17:00 – 6th Glass
This glass of water will keep you satiated and prevent overeating during dinner.
20:00 – 7th Glass
Have a glass of water an hour after dinner and before you shower.
22:00 – 8th Glass
Drink your last glass of water an hour before bedtime to aid in the cell renewal process during your sleep.
The bottom point of this post is do not drink huge amounts of water immediately before or after or between the meals. If you want to drink water in such cases then consume little amount of water to satisfy at that point.
- “Your Digestive System and How It Works” posted in niddk.nih.gov.
- “Drinking Water at the Right Time” posted in healthxchange.sg.
- “Say no to water between meals” posted in timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
- Featured Image Source: Shocklet.in