Glugging water during meals severely hampers your stomach's digestive powers and causes insulin levels to fluctuate significantly, warns Microboitic counsellor Shonali Sabherwal
To know if you're drinking enough water, it is often said, just check if you are feeling thirsty. If you aren't, your fluid intake is likely to be just about right. But downing glasses of water along with your meals may not be the best time to quench your thirst.
Macrobiotic counsellor Shonali Sabherwal explains why you should not drink water during your meal. "Most Indians have water along with their meals. The usual theory is washing down the food while eating. People have no idea how wrong this practice is and how difficult this can be for their digestion. For those suffering with digestion problems, the ramifications are manifold. Our stomachs have a knack of knowing when you will eat and starts releasing digestive juices immediately. If you start drinking water at the same time, what you are actually doing is diluting the digestive juices being released to digest your food, thereby hindering them from breaking down food."
Research shows that sipping a little water during meals isn't a cause for concern but drinking a glass or two may interfere with digestion. It is best to drink fluids before and two hours after meals as this helps in absorption of nutrients, researchers have found.
Elaborating on what exactly happens inside you when you glug water during meals, Sabherwal says that it gets absorbed by the intestinal walls of the stomach. "This absorption continues till it becomes concentrated enough for the digestive juices to begin digesting your food. However, due to it getting mixed with water, this concentrated substance is now thicker than the food contents present in your stomach. So less gastric juice will be secreted to digest your food. The result is, undigested food leaks into your system as it gets absorbed through the stomach walls. This will also lead to acid reflux and heart burn." Drinking water with meals can also cause a surge in your insulin levels, almost like the way high glycemic food would affect you, Sabherwal cautions. "The more insulin is released in to your blood stream, the higher the chances of you storing fat in your body."
To avoid watering down your meals, Sabherwal suggests a few don'ts. "Make sure your food is not too salty as that would aggravate your thirst and trigger your need to down more water. Besides, eating in a hurry will cause you to gulp your food down. Most likely, you would feel the need to wash it down with water while you are at it. Instead, chew, chew and then chew some more. We secrete a lot of digestive juices (enzymes) while chewing, which makes our stomach's job easier."