I feel everyone is aware of the fact that an adult should intake at least 2-3 liters of water on daily basis to keep our body properly hydrated and all our vital organs function properly. If in any rare case you didn’t know this then Voila! You know now. So water is essential for our body to work properly but so many people are very much confused with when to drink it. I always suggest drinking water when you feel an urge to quench your thirst. Our body has senses and it hints when it needs something. Yet there always goes a debate on a particular section of this topic- Should you drink water before meal, after meal or in-between? So with this small article I will try to explain our body’s response in each case using scientific parameters, not just theories. Living in a family with doctors, answers come easy!
Before meal: There are so many studies going on saying that drinking water just before having a meal helps in reducing weight. The reason behind is that when you gulp water before meal, your stomach gets occupied and you eat less. This is simple as that. On the other hand if you don’t drink water for at least half an hour prior to meal, you are sure going to feel hungrier as compared to the former. So which one is more of a healthy habit? Irrespective of your body goals and to aid digestion, later one is more effective. See what happens during digestion is glands in our digestive system secrete enzymes which break down macro-molecules in simpler forms to aid absorption of nutrients required by our body. So when you gulp in water just before a meal, it not only makes your stomach feel full but also dilutes the digestive enzymes, thereby lengthening the process and sometimes eventually ends up as indigestion. So although hogging on water before a meal may help you lose some weight but it is not much healthy for your digestive system.
After meal: The same digestion principle applies in this case as well but luckily drinking a gallon of water after having meal doesn’t help in keeping check on weight, at least I never heard of any such studies. Our body starts digestion with the very first bite of our food but it doesn’t finish when we finish eating. On an average, non-vegetarian foods take around 3 hours, vegetarian ones take 1-2 hours and fruits take 30-40 minutes to digest. But it doesn’t mean that you need to make a routine according to the type of food you are having. Typically half an hour is enough time to digest the major portions and after that you can consume as much water you want (not a gallon though). So after every meal, try to have only a few sips of water to moisten the food and take the rest after half an hour for a healthy digestion.
During meal: Now this one is the tricky part and every doctor has his own theory. What complicates it from the former two cases is water not only dilutes the digestive enzymes but also aids in breaking down of food. Water is obviously a solvent so it softens the food and makes it easy for the process but excess of it can interfere in the process in a negative way by diluting the juices again. So therefore, it goes a debate over this case in even the best of doctors. According to me, taking a few sips if the food is too dry or if you are thirsty is fine but control the temptation and don’t tank up when there is still food in your stomach as it will only lengthen the digestion process.
So after discussing about all the cases with respect to digestion, I guess the points must be clear by now to not consume water for at least half an hour before or after having meal. You may sip on it during meals if you want but there is no rule, just follow your body requirements. Other than this, you can always drink water anytime you feel an urge but just try to limit it nearby meal timings.