There are people who drink more water than the food they eat during their meals. Then there are people who don’t consume any water while eating but guzzle down umpteen glasses after their meal. It is difficult to point out who amongst these are doing it right and who are not. When and how much water must one drink while eating is often a matter of heated discussion amongst people. Another perplex question regarding the matter is weather drinking water aids digestion or hampers it? We asked Delhi-based nutritionist Pinky Patil when and how much water must we drink while eating?
“It varies according to the needs of the person. Not many studies have been conducted on the issue, so there’s no proven science to it yet,” explains Patil. She further adds,”But, ideally a person should wait until for at least 10 to 20 minutes to drink water after a meal.”
Patil says that drinking a little water for the purpose of washing down food doesn’t do any harm, but gorging down water in excessive quantities can impede the process of digestion by diluting essential enzymes. These enzymes help the stomach in breaking down food and by diluting them the process of digestion become slower.
“The process of digestion starts from mouth and continues while the food passes through the oesophagus and reaches the stomach. Saliva also plays a pivotal role in digesting food and consuming too much water also plays down the saliva’s importance in digestion due to dilution,” remarks Patil.
Although, none of this means that you shouldn’t consume water when required. Our body constitutes 70 per cent water and to efficiently maintain that we need to consume at least 10 to 12 glasses of water every day. If you drink little water while eating or even before eating, it won’t do any harm as our stomach is also adept in absorbing water.
Many people argue that drinking water during meals can help in weight loss by curbing excessive eating. While these claims seem plausible, there’s not enough evidence that support it. “We don’t recommend people to follow this practice as there is not much truth to it. Instead, weight loss can be achieved at a much faster rate by increasing fibre intake in the diet,”suggest Patil.