Why can’t you drink water while you eat food?
Though doctors can recommend that there is nothing wrong with drinking water during meals. As per yogic/ ayurvedic philosophy you must drink lot of water throughout the day, but avoid drinking water during meals. The stomach must not be heavily loaded. Half of the stomach should be filled with solid food, one fourth with watery portion and leave one fourth empty. Also, keep in mind that fruits and vegetables itself contain large amount of water. It is recommended to drink minimal amount of water half an hour prior to eating meals and two hours after meals.
But there cannot be a hard and fast rule for drinking water. You may have to drink water if you are having meals after a hard day of work in hot and dry climate. The amount of water you drink depend on weather conditions and your physical activity levels. Also, the amount of water required will depend on type of food you are eating. If food is sattvik and consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables, water requirement will be minimal. Whereas for spicy Tamsik diet, water requirement will be more and you cannot avoid water with meals.
Also, remember that efficiency of digestion does not depend solely on the amount of water taken with meals. Take into account nutrition levels of your diet, lifestyle, stress levels and eating habits while analysing your digestion
Water During Meals
1. Avoid drinking water with your meals. Drinking water with your meals dilutes the gastric juice and slows down the process of digestion in the stomach and intestines. Even if you need to drink water just sip water kept at room temperature. Ideally, Ayurvedic texts recommend sipping minimal amount of plain warm water during meals.
2. Cold water during the meals reduces the digestive fire. Digestive enzymes become inactive, digestive process is hampered and leads to accumulation of toxic waste in the body. Hence drinking of iced water, soft drinks, sodas, tea or coffee or alcohol is strictly prohibited.
3. Chew your food properly and it will easily pass down to your stomach. Do not drink water to swallow food in a hurry. If required drink water after swallowing food.
When To Drink Water
4. Drink water approximately half an hour prior to eating your meals. This will quench your thirst and to some extent give you feeling of fullness. Drinking more water before meals promotes weight loss as plain water contains zero calories. Drink a glass of water when you are hungry. You can take plenty of water two hours after meals as most of the digestion process will be over by now.
5. Cold water should also be avoided during winter season, as the digestive fire is lower in this season.
6. Do not drink excess water with meals if you are suffering from digestive ailments like acid reflux or hiatus hernia or your digestive process is slow. In such case, drink minimum amount of water with meals.
7. If the stomach tone is less than normal, excessive water stays a long time in stomach interfering with digestion.
8. Poor gastric motility also implies inability to take large amounts of water and can be recognised by feeling of fullness, heaviness, and weight, after small amounts of food. Small amount of fluids takes away the appetite. Even in bad cases, eight ounces of fluid is generally allowable at each meal.
The Truth As To Water Drinking With Meals
“Shall we or shall we not? Yes or No? ” asked the lawyer. Was the witness evading the question when he answered, ” Partly yes and partly no? ” Not at all. There are some questions which can neither be truthfully nor satisfactorily answered by one word. Strange to say, many of the magazine articles treating this subject have attempted to answer yes or no for all individuals. About the briefest answer which can be given to the question, Should we take water with meals? would be: seventy per cent of us should; thirty per cent should not — or at least not more than eight ounces of all fluids.
To the average person a stomach is just a stomach. He does not realize there is great variation as to size, shape, position, muscular, and secretory powers. No two leaves are alike. It is not strange that stomachs also vary.
An attempt will here be made to develop the treatment of this subject from a scientific stand-point. The first requirement is to state facts on which conclusions may be based.
The gastric juice is well represented in its chemical value by the amount of hydrochloric acid which it contains. If this is greater than average, water drinking with meals may be an advantage ; if less than average, a disadvantage; if average, not harmful.
So much for the secretory factor in the case. Motility is the other important factor. Motility refers to the motor power or the mechanical ability of the stomach to receive food, hold the same within its grasp, mix thoroughly with its own juices, and, at the proper time, pass it on to the duodenum. The size, shape, position, and muscular power of the stomach determine its motility.
The first real information regarding its muscular contractions was obtained by observation of a man who had received a bullet wound in the stomach, leaving a permanent opening through the abdominal wall. Generalization from such a specific instance was a mistake. Our present information on this subject is quite different. Much of this was obtained by means of the X-ray, which affords opportunity to observe stomachs of many kinds — normal as well as abnormal. This has helped to answer the question, ” Should we drink water with meals? ” and has given sufficient reasons therefor.
An X-ray classification according to the shape and strength of the stomach is simple and easily understood. First, there is the stomach which is shaped like a steer’s horn, large end uppermost, called the hypertonic stomach (meaning increased tone). Tone refers to muscular power.
Second, there is the stomach with normal tone orthotonic — shaped like the letter J.
Third, there is the stomach with less than normal tone (hypotonic) —more like a U than a J — the left arm reaching half the height of the right.
Fourth, there is the stomach with practically no tone at all — atonic — shaped still more like the letter U — that is, the left arm comes up almost as high as the right.
For X-ray examination, a bowl of oatmeal and bismuth is given. The bismuth casts a shadow, enabling one to observe its movements through the stomach. A stomach of the first type is emptied of such a meal in two or three hours; that of the second, in three or four; the third, in four or five; and the fourth, in five to seven. It is uphill work for the last two types to empty themselves. Since water seeks the lowest level, it is more difficult for such weak stomachs to pass water than solid food into the intestine.
Every one is familiar with the way in which sand is washed ashore by the waves of the ocean. With each wave the sand is brought further and further on the beach, and the water flows back again. Contractions of the stomach act in a similar way. Each wave brings the solid food toward the outlet of the stomach, and it is gradually passed to the duodenum. In the weak stomach, water flows back again and consequently too much fluid always remains.
In the first and second types, the greater part of the water passes through the stomach in less than fifteen minutes; therefore it will not interfere with the meal. Even three to five glasses may be taken at one meal and half an hour later no more will remain than if only one had been taken. The same cannot be said of the last two types, for the solid food remains long in these, and the fluids even longer. Two glasses of water weigh one pound. If one takes four glasses of water or its equivalent, two glasses of water, one cup of coffee, and one plate of soup, he adds to the weight of the stomach contents two pounds (equal to eight small lamb chops). This is greater than the weight of the solid food contained in an ordinary meal. Most of this water remains to the end of the meal, adding to the weight of the stomach contents for quite a while. It so happens that these weak stomachs, just the ones which cannot stand a heavy load, retain it longer than those which could endure it better — the strong ones emptying rapidly.
The stomach is a hollow organ. The function of its muscles is not only to mix and pass the food along, but to maintain its shape and prevent undue stretching and dilatation. When the muscles are weak, the elasticity of its walls is lost and, like an old rubber band, it stretches when filled but does not show a tendency to return to normal size when empty. It is correct to say that the normal stomach is, within limits, the size of its contents; that is, after a small meal, it is seen grasping its con-tents closely; after a large meal, it stretches to accommodate the greater bulk. The stomach of poor tone, instead of grasping its contents, is more like a flour sack — lifeless and inelastic.
There are a few symptoms by which poor motility and therefore inability to take large amounts of water may be recognized. There is a feeling of fullness, heaviness, and weight, after small amounts of food. Soup so fills one that it takes the appetite away. Large meals cannot be taken without causing distress.
Even in bad cases, eight ounces of fluid is generally allowable at each meal.
The subject should be easily understood after this presentation of the mechanical features of the stomach. To review — those with a large amount of gastric juice, of high acidity, may drink with advantage; those with low acidity, may be injured, especially if motility is at the same time impaired. Those with good motility have no reason to avoid water drinking with meals. Those with poor motility should take no more than eight ounces of fluids of all kinds with each meal.
A certain amount of water is a necessity and it should be supplied between meals in sufficient amounts to bring the total quantity for each twenty-four hours up to one and one-half quarts in winter, with a further allowance for unusual exercise and for warm weather.
Tips for Drinking Water with Meals
The general rule of thumb is to avoid drinking water from about 15 minutes before you eat until at least one hour after you eat. But it’s all too common for people to go to extremes with this advice. Avoiding any and all liquids before, during and after meals is rarely needed to see improvements in digestion. Instead, apply these simple tips for drinking at mealtime:
1. Think small sips.You don’t have to forego water during meals altogether. Instead, simply opt to take small sips of water during your meal. This is great for cleansing the palate and maintaining hydration without flooding your digestive system with massive amounts of water just when it’s getting down to business. You can also add a squeeze of lemon or a bit of apple cider vinegar to your water to help aid the digestive process.
2. Choose warm over cold.Iced drinks may be particularly problematic during meals, especially for those with existing digestive issues. If you’d like to have something to sip on during meals, warm liquids are more friendly for digestion. Warm tea or homemade broth are excellent to accompany your meal, and can actually aid digestion rather than impair it.
3. Hydrate before you eat.If you frequently find yourself thirsty during and after your meals, it may help to make a habit of drinking a glass or two of pure water about 15 to 30 minutes before you eat. This can prevent the urge to drink too much water while your stomach is working to digest your meal.
4. Stay hydrated during the rest of the day.Drinking during meals can be a difficult habit to break. However, it’s easier to do if you keep yourself hydrated the rest of the time. Begin your day by drinking a glass or two of pure water and then make a habit of repeating this between meals. Soon you’ll be well-hydrated and won’t crave large amounts of water during your meals.
5. Think moderation.There is no reason to become dogmatic about drinking during meals. Some people find it makes an enormous difference to avoid drinking a lot of liquid during a meal, while others find it has little effect. Others note that simply avoiding ice water or not drinking quite so much water during meals is enough to ease their digestive woes. It will depend on the individual how much of an impact this has on his/her digestion, but it’s worth considering if you have problems with gas, bloating or pain after meals.