Does drinking water with meals disturb digestion

By May 9, 2022

 

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Water is essential for humans, as it takes up 60% of the human body and it is consumed every day to keep hydration and assist digestion. Meanwhile, there’re some myths saying that drinking water with meals leads to incomplete digestion, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, etc.

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How you digest food

Before understanding the role water plays in indigestion, it’s necessary to learn how you digest food.

The moment you start chewing food in your mouth, your salivary glands start to produce saliva, which contains enzymes that can break down chunks of food. Then the food comes down through the esophagus, and enters your stomach. The gastric acid will further break the food down into a thick liquid called chyme. After that, the chyme travels to your small intestine where the magic happens —the pancreas and bile acid there finally break down the chyme into nutrition which is absorbed into your bloodstream.

Myth 1: Water during meals dilutes gastric acid

It’s believed that water during meals dilutes gastric acid, however, no research has proved it. The fact is, you won’t suffer from any digestive problems with a reasonable amount of water during meals. The stomach is so acidic that drinking water won’t change the PH significantly. Also, it is constantly adjusting itself to keep the PH level according to different food coming in.

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Myth 2: Water during meals reduces digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes play an important part in indigestion. Primary digestive enzymes include amylases, lipases, and proteases, all of which can break down carbs, fats, proteins, etc into absorbable molecules. When you drink water during meals, the amount of these enzymes won’t decrease, as they only interact with their non-water target.

Myth 3: Water during meals causes acid reflux

There’s also a myth saying that drinking water during meals may cause acid reflux. But it’s not true for most people. Only when you are diagnosed with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease should you limit the amount of water you take in while eating.

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Water with meals can actually assist in digestion

Under a reasonable amount, drinking water during meals can actually assist digestion. First, water is natural lubricant that can help break down large chunks of food and move the food down your GI tracks, of which saliva is a good example. Besides, water can also soften stool and thus prevent constipation. Last but not least, drinking water with meals can remind you of your fullness. That can help curb appetite and lose weight.

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