Written by Sade Oguntola - Nigeria
Drinking water while eating a meal is, in fact, a habit mothers discourage because it is said to reduce appetite since it fills up the stomach.
Also, some experts suggest that it is better to abstain from drinking water while eating to ensure faster digestion.
Individuals make choices everyday that affects their health. Decisions are made on what to eat, whom to have for friends and how best to spend the day. Do you know those choices that lead to good health and those that do not?
The health choices made everyday are a major factor for total health. Although several factors such as heredity, environment and available health care, can affect one's health, healthy habits such as taking enough water are equally important. No wonder, experts say individuals should drink between six and eight glasses of water daily.
It's no secret that water is necessary for the optimal functioning of all life forms, humans included. Aside that, not drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day can actually slow down the body's metabolism, making weight gain a likely possibility. Water is necessary for all metabolic functions, including calorie burning.
What is more, drinking water while having meals meddles with digestion. Although the theory usually is to wash down the food while eating, vegetarians believe that doing this would severely hamper the stomach's digestive powers and cause insulin levels to fluctuate significantly.
Ironically, drinking water while eating a meal is, in fact, a habit mothers discourage because they believe that it reduces appetite by filling up the stomach. People have no idea how this practice is wrong, and how this can be difficult to digest them.
Research shows that drinking small amounts of water during meals is not a cause for concern, but drinking a glass or two may interfere with the digestion process. It is best to drink fluids before and two hours after meals.
Drinking water while eating and digestion: is there any link? Vegetarians reason that the stomach immediately starts to release digestive juices when eating commences, but that if drinking of water starts at the same time, this will actually dilute the digestive juices, thus hindering them from breaking down food.
Besides, vegetarians suggested that people should not eat in a hurry because this will most likely create a desire for water to wash the food down, while still eating. Instead, by chewing slowly, they believe this would produce a lot of digestive juices, so making for faster food digestion.
Is there scientific evidence of any disadvantage of drinking water during meals? Dr Fayeofori Abbiyesuku, a consultant endocrinologist, Department of Chemical Pathology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, does not see any reason drinking while eating will affect food digestion.
"As far as I am concerned, any person that says anything about how drinking water while eating affects digestion or insulin release is only carrying out an academic exercise. What I tell my patients regularly is that they should drink in between eating in table. After all, if you are eating yam, wouldn't you drink water to ensure it goes down?
"Take the mediterranean people, they take water during their meals. They drink as they eat. As far as I am concerned, at the end of the day, everything will form a metabolic pool within the intestine and digestion should go on. It is like making a mountain out of a molehill.
"If you notice anything, it will be that the person will eat less, so less calories and then weight control. That is all.
"Digestion will not be affected by drinking water while eating. What is important is for people to chew their food very well before it is swallowed so that it forms a marshy stuff. This is part of digestion."
He asked: "Even if you say digestion will be slower, so what? It means it will take longer to feel hunger again. It fills up your stomach and gives you satiety very quickly, in such a way that it helps you maintain your weight."
But some experts suggest that correct timing to drink water will maximise its effectiveness in the body. They suggest drinking two glasses of water after waking up to help activate internal organs; a glass of water 30 minutes before meal to help digestion; a glass of water before taking a bath to help lower blood pressure and a glass of water before sleep to avoid stroke or heart attack.
Basically, inadequate intake of water, whether during meal times or in the day, is harmful because it results into dehydration. Dehydration can result to tiredness, migraine, constipation, dry skin and irregular blood pressure.
Individuals with dehydration end up passing out dark yellow or orange urine. Although, thirst is the most obvious sign of dehydration, it is always important not to wait till thirst occurs before drinking water.
Drinking water helps to lose weight because it flushes down the by-products of fat breakdown. Drinking water reduces hunger; it is an effective appetite suppressant. The brain is mostly made up of water, thus drinking water helps to be more alert and more concentrated.
In addition, proper hydration helps to keep joints and muscles lubricated, and so, it reduces the chances of having cramps and sprains. It also helps to fight flu and other ailments like kidney stones and heart attack. Studies have also shown that drinking a healthy amount of water may reduce the risk of bladder cancer and colon cancer because it dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the time which they are in contact with bladder lining.