Health

Drinking water before and after meals benefits and side-effects

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Most of us are guilty of drinking water before and after eating food. But does that habit really have a bad effect on health? Let’s find out.

For the longest time, we have been told that it is not good to drink water before a meal. Drinking water even immediately after having a meal is not considered a good habit, especially by our elders. But have you ever tried to know the reason or truth behind it? If not, we’re here to help.

Did you know that from an Ayurveda viewpoint, we must have water whenever there is an urge. Though consuming water and meals together has always been a debatable topic, some believe drinking water before and with meals affects the digestive system, while many believe that’s not true.

To find the answer, HealthShots decided to get in touch with an expert. Dr Vipul Rustgi, MBBS MD Medicine, Consultant Physician, and Diabetologist, Apollo Spectra, Delhi, explains the benefits and side-effects of drinking water before, during, and after the meal.

Is it okay to drink water or liquids before and while eating?

Some people argue that gulping some water before and while eating is bad for you, claiming that the process can mess with your digestion. But it turns out, “drinking water before eating can ease the digestion process,” according to Dr Rustgi.

And what about drinking while eating your food? Water and other liquids aid in breaking down food so that the body absorbs the nutrients in a proper way. Not only this, water also softens stool, and in turn, you will be able to keep constipation at bay. You will also be able to tackle bloating. And this will also further help in digestion.

drinking water
Experts advise you to drink 7-8 glasses of water a day. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Moreover, drinking water with meals can also help you pause between bites, giving you a moment to check in with your hunger and fullness signals. Thus, drinking water before and while eating can help to lose weight. “Water makes you feel full, and you will not overeat, and be able to maintain an optimum weight,” says Dr Rustgi.

Are there any side effects of drinking water before eating?

Yes, there are! Consuming water before a meal may create a sense of fullness and reduce your appetite, which can help in weight loss. But are you aware that this practice can increase the amount of insulin in one’s body?

Dr Rustgi says, “Drinking water while you are eating can spike insulin levels, just the way high glycemic foods would do. This happens as the body is not able to digest foods properly and converts the glucose-filled part of that food into fat and stores it.” This process then raises insulin levels in the body, and one may encounter high blood sugar levels.

Along with this, a person may get acidity issues or the already existing chronic acidity problem gets worse. “If you get acidity on a regular basis then this can be owing to having water during meals. Less gastric juice is secreted to digest the food. Then the undigested food tends to leak into the system leading to acidity and heartburn,” says Dr Rustgi.

Also Read: Yes, you can be overhydrated too. Here are 6 signs that you’re drinking TOO much water

drinking water
Water is the best liquid! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What happens if you drink water immediately after meals?

You might have heard that drinking water after a meal can affect your digestion and prevent absorption of nutrients properly. But it turns out, drinking water after the meal helps to break down the food so that your body can absorb the nutrients well. Not just that, it also prevents constipation, bloating, and indigestion. Thus, there is no need to wonder if drinking water after a meal is good or bad. In fact, it’s totally fine!

So drink without fear!

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