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Should you drink water before or after meals? Here is the best time to drink water

Water is the elixir of life. This simple drink provides our body with essential hydration while eliminating unwanted toxins. Regular water consumption is vital for all body functions and overall well-being. Our skin and hair also require a constant supply of water to maintain their shine and radiance. Many of us start our day with a glass of water and this is widely considered a good practice. However, to meet the daily requirement, we have to maintain drinking water at intervals. And a question that often arises is: when is the right time to drink water – before, during or after meals? The answer is not very simple. Here’s what the experts say:

Should you drink water before meals?

Too much water can hinder digestion. Photo credit: Pixabay

Some of us have a habit of drinking water just before lunch or dinner. Perhaps we are thirsty or perhaps we think that by doing so we will free up our palate/system. However, this practice could affect digestion and nutrient absorption. According to nutritionist Dr Anju Sood, “There is a certain fluid to solid ratio in our gastric system. If you consume water before meals, you not only disturb the fluid component by diluting what you eat, but you are also speeding up the digestion process as the food now enters the large intestine much earlier than it should.” Rather than drinking a full glass of water immediately before a meal, leave a gap of 20 to 30 minutes between breaks.
Read also: Can fruit juices harm your health? Avoid it in these 5 cases

Is it okay to drink water with meals?

Water glasses are often kept at the tables. Photo credit: Pixabay

Now, it’s quite common for many people to drink water along with their meals. Most restaurants also ensure that water glasses are always filled during the meal. However, according to some experts, you should avoid drinking too much water during meals. Water can dilute essential enzymes needed for proper digestion of food. Dr. Anju says, “Some people who drink water with meals have also shown a tendency to have an expanded colon.” However, this mainly applies to drinking plenty of water with a meal. There’s nothing wrong with sipping a little.

Avoid carbonated drinks which can make bloating and indigestion worse. Drink plain or infused water with a little lemon, mint and/or ginger. This should be room temperature or slightly warm, but never cold. Shilpa Arora, a macrobiotic nutritionist and health coach, says that chilled or cold water “dampens energy and weakens the kidneys. Never drink cold water with meals as it solidifies any oily substance you’ve consumed. Pretty soon, you it will turn into fat and sludge in the body, creating an imbalance.”
Read also: Turmeric Milk Tea – A golden elixir for good health. See how to make it and how it benefits you

Should you drink water after meals?

Chilled water is not very good for your system. Photo credit: Pixabay

Does this mean we should drink water after eating all of our food? Most experts advise against doing this. Water can hinder the ongoing digestion process. This can also affect insulin levels as glucose from undigested food is converted into fat, which can then affect blood sugar levels. According to nutritionist Shilpa Arora, “Our body produces enzymes and digestive, pancreatic and other chemical juices that digest food. Drinking water closer to meals would dilute these enzymes and digestive juices leading to indigestion and misuse of nutrients.” You can maybe have a sip or two of water after you’re done. But don’t swallow the whole glass.

Some cultures have the habit of drinking warm water after meals. As mentioned above, the water you sip shouldn’t be too cold. In small quantities, drinking hot water after meals can be good for the intestines. This is traditionally based on Ayurvedic teachings. You can read more here.

Another question people often ask is drinking water after eating fruit. There are many misconceptions on this matter. Click here to learn what the experts suggest.
Read also: 5 breakfast foods you should stop eating now and what to eat instead

Disclaimer: This content, including advice, provides general information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical advice. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for further information. NDTV assumes no responsibility for this information.

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