When it comes to drinking water, your SW Portland dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts knows that everyone has an opinion on what’s the right amount to drink a day. However, while the conversation on drinking water usually involves how much you should drink a day, another important question asks when is the best time to drink water? Some claim that drinking water helps improve digestion, while other are concerned drinking a full glass after a meal negatively impacts digestion and can cause weight gain.
There are a number of studies that have helped reaffirm the idea that drinking water immediately following a meal isn’t good for you. While downing a glass of water won’t harm your health after a meal, it does have an impact on your digestion.
What studies have determined happens after drinking water right after eating is a dilution of the essential enzymes in your stomach needed to properly digest food.
There’s no hard rule or guideline that says you can’t drink water during a meal – drinking plenty of water when eating actually helps to keep you hydrated and protect your oral health – but experts warn that drinking too much water once the meal is over could prove problematic for your digestion.
The Case Against Drinking After a Meal
Drinking a full glass of water immediately after a meal causes acidity by diluting the gastric juices in your stomach. Your stomach absorbs the water you drink, but when you drink in excess following a meal you’re diluting the enzymes required for digestion. This can cause a drop in the number of digestive enzymes in your stomach and make it more likely that undigested food leaks into your system causing acid reflux and heartburn.
A little more about gastric juices – These acids not only enable your body to breakdown and digest food, they also eliminate and kill infectious microbes that might have interfered with your food. Basically, you need these juices to ensure a healthy stomach and body.
However, when you drink water immediately following a meal, you reduce the effectiveness of your digestive system. This could cause some people to experience cramps after a meal.
Since you’ve stagnated the digestive process, food will remain in your stomach for longer than it would normally. This also slows down digested food being passed along to the small intestine where many vital nutrients are absorbed.
Drinking water right after a meal leaves behind undigested food and the glucose in the food can easily turn to fat when stored. The process also causes a surge of insulin in your body which in turn increases the blood sugar level in your body.
With the excess of glucose from foods being transformed into fat and being stored by the body, there’s is some merit to the idea that drinking too much water after a meal can increase your risk of obesity.
When to Drink Water
In order to maximize the effectiveness of drinking water on the body, there are certain times of day that are more beneficial than others.
- Immediately after waking in the morning. Your mouth produces less saliva during sleep when compared to the rest of the day. Saliva plays an important role in both digestion and protecting your oral health.
- During a meal. Drinking during a meal helps to improve saliva flow, which not only aids in digestion but also helps to flush lingering food particles and harmful oral bacteria from your mouth that can contribute to tooth decay if allowed to remain.
- Before bed. Saliva flow drops during sleep. If you suffer from dry mouth or low saliva flow your oral health could suffer during the night, especially if you have digestive issues that cause acid reflux or GERD. Drinking water before bedtime will help keep you hydrated and your mouth moist.