Folks suggest that you must keep a glass of water on the table while having food, not only it helps to swallow the food but also aids in detrimental situations like sudden blockage of food pipe due to food stuck, etc. However, the experts say that too much of fluid consumption while eating can obstruct the proper functioning of the digestion system. There have been endless debates on whether you should or should not be consuming fluids during meals. Here is a brief on how your body reacts when you eat something, and guidelines on how you should be taking care of the water/beverage consumption during your meals.
What happens when you Eat?
Our body performs a number of processes while eating and digesting, that are mentioned below-
• Salivary glands present on our mouth secrete digestive enzymes that help your break down food. These enzymes are crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
• The stomach contains gastric juices that aid in digestion and killing any bacteria that may harm the digestion track. These juices help a quick breakdown of the food so it can be pulverized /crushed enough to be pushed to small intestines.
• The liver is very much like a transmitter; it extracts all the nutrients from the food and transfuses it to the blood streams, which are then distributed to different parts of the body. this is where consuming enough amount of water throughout the day aids in proper functioning of the liver.
To Drink and Not?
Researchers say that drinking too much of water while eating can interfere with natural and necessary levels of bile and stomach acid produced while digestion. It can slow down the digestion process and reduces body’s ability to produce enough digestive enzymes to digest the food properly. Similarly, when you consume a lot of beverages or alcohol during your lunch or dinners, your digestion process again becomes weak and slows down.
Sometimes, people feel cramps or slight pain in their stomach, just after they swallow something. It happens majorly due to lack of water in the digestion track- liver, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Thus, you must consume water half an hour before having food, so your digestion track remains hydrated enough.
The Other Side of the Coin
According to Micheal F Picco, M.D. and the MayoClinic: “There’s no concern that water will dilute the digestive juices or interfere with digestion. In fact, drinking water during or after a meal actually aids digestion. Water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients. Water also softens stools, which helps prevent constipation.” It means that drinking water while eating is generally OK.
Another Myth Related to Drinking Water while eating
In addition, drinking Luke warm water or water at normal temperature helps smooth digestion of food. This is in accordance to the eternal, Chinese culture of having a hot beverage with food that is being followed since millennia. But, why only hot fluids? Some people say that drinking cold fluids while eating solidify the food and oils present in it; some say that boiling water before consuming it esp. during the meals helps you keep away from harmful bacteria; and many more reasons.
However, there is no evidence that drinking cold water adversely affects the digestion; as soon as you swallow food or water; it matches your body’s internal temperature and gets digested at the same rate. Had the Chinese theory been true (no offenses), ice would have never melted in our mouth and had tortured our digestion track until next morning.
Drinking optimal amount of water at least half an hour before having food hydrates your digestive track which helps in the easy breaking of food and proper functioning of the liver.