The topic of whether or not it is healthy to drink water with meals is controversial on the Internet as well as at various dinner tables. Let’s see if this is more fact, or fiction.
The group opposed to drinking water claim that water dilutes your stomach enzymes and acids, which decreases the efficiency of the digestion process. Also, some people claim it leads to bloating and gas.
The group supporting water with meals says water helps fill you up and thereby helps you control your food intake and weight. They also claim that rather than hurting your digestive process, that it actually helps digestion.
What do the experts say?
The first expert, gastroenterologist Dr. Michael F. Picco of the Mayo Clinic (widely recognized in the US as one of the top medical centers in the country) says that water does not dilute the digestive juices, and that drinking water during or after a meal helps digestion, and helps prevent constipation.
The second expert, Dr. Braden Kuo, director of the GI Motility Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School), says that water is not necessary during meals for digestion, but drinking water may help smooth the digestive process. He says there is no data to support the idea that drinking water interferes with the process. He also believes that water helps you swallow food easier, and helps fight constipation.
Beyond these experts, the more credible sources we could find support that drinking water during meals is, if anything, healthy. Published research has shown that drinking water before or during meals will help control your weight, by making you feel more satisfied. If you are trying to gain weight, you might try not drinking water with your meals, so you consume more food calories.
The bottom line
The idea that it is unhealthy to drink water with your meals appears to be a myth. Do what feels right for you: if you want to drink water or other fluids with your meals, great. If you don’t like the idea, then don’t. But remember to drink lots of water at other times of the day, and that most evidence shows that water with meals is healthy. Your body is mostly water, and you need a good water intake for all your body processes to function properly.
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