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.”

  5 reasons why drinking water during your meals is bad for you
Find out why drinking water with your meals is the worst thing you can do for your health.


Probably one of the most common sights you see on a daily basis is that tall glass of water next to your plate of food. While some people think it is necessary to have a glass of water –especially cold water – with your meals, this habit could be highly damaging to your health. Here are six reasons why you should avoid drinking water along with your meals:

1.Dilutes gastric juices:

Your stomach contains digestive acids that help in the digestion and breakdown of food. Apart from this, these juices are also responsible for killing any infectious agents that might be ingested along with food. Also known as the ‘digestive fire’ (according to Ayurvedic texts) these digestive enzymes are essential for our overall well-being as they also allow the stomach to contract and pulverize the food we eat. When this fire is diluted with water, it not only dulls the entire system but may cause cramping of the intestinal wall in some individuals. This stagnation of the entire digestive process allows food to remain in the stomach for longer and slows the process of passing digested food into the small intestine for the absorption of nutrients. In a statement to TOI Shonali Sabherwal, Macrobiotic counselor said, ‘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.’

2.Reduces the amount of saliva:
Your saliva is the first step to digestion. Not only does it contain enzymes that help break down food, but it also helps stimulate the stomach to release digestive enzymes and ready itself for the process of digestion. When you drink water during your meals, your saliva gets diluted. This not only sends weaker signals to the stomach but also stops the breakdown of food in your mouth – making digestion that much more difficult.

3.Causes acidity:
If you suffer from constant bouts of acidity, then this habit might be to blame. Since drinking water dilutes your digestive system, it leads to a chain-reaction of ill-effects. According to Shonali Saberwal, the stomach continues to absorb water till it gets saturated, after that, this water starts to dilute gastric juices; making the mixture much thicker than normal. This leads to lesser digestive enzymes being secreted, causing undigested food to leak into your system causing to acid reflux and heart burn.

4.Increases the amount of insulin in your body:

According to Shonali Saberwal, drinking water while you are eating  can also lead to a surge in your insulin levels, much like high glycaemic foods would. This is because when your body is not able to digest foods well enough it tends to convert the glucose filled part of that food into fat and stores it. This process then requires a surge of insulin in the body increasing your overall blood sugar levels.

5.Makes you put on weight:

Another common side-effect of drinking water with your meals is the fact that you do tend to put on weight. As explained earlier, there is a surge in insulin levels and food is broken down to make fat which is stored. Apart from that, in Ayurveda it is believed that a weak digestive fire is one of the leading reasons for obesity. Not only does this lead to an imbalance between the vata, kapha and pitta elements in the body, but it also leads to the disruption in the way your body works.

While the practice is bad for health, there are a few ways you can overcome the need to drink water during your meals, here are some tips:

Have meals with less salt.

 Since salt is a compound that does tend to make one thristy it is best you lessen the intake of this condiment.  Don’t gulp down food, chew it well.Chewing your food has a number of health benefits, and one of those is the fact that your saliva helps hasten the process of digestion. Moreover well chewed food is easier to breakdown and assimilate, allowing your digestive system to do its job well. Apart from all this, one great benefit of this practice is the fact that as you chew, the amount of saliva produced increases, beating the urge to drink water.Drink water 30 minutes before your meal.According to Dr Gauthaman, CEO orrVita ayurveda and yoga centers, a person should ideally drink room temperature water before their meals if they wish to lose weight and have a healthy metabolism. This practice also beats the urge to drink water during one’s meals.