Why You Shouldn’t Drink Water Immediately Before and After Meal

If you ask any medical specialist, or experts for different types of alternative medicine, whether you should drink plenty of water, all of them will agree that drinking plenty of water is very important for your health. Indeed, a body of an average adult person contains 60% of water. Water content is higher in children, and it lowers with aging. Water is involved in almost all metabolic processes, and humans cannot survive more than a couple of days without water intake.

However, there is a debate on when to drink water, during which period of the day, and when we should drink water in relation to meals, medications, etc.

Why You Shouldn’t Drink Water Just Before Meal

Drinking water just before meal falls under common controversies. The presence of large amount of water in your stomach and bowels before meal can have several negative effects. In order to digest the food, the small intestine, pancreas, liver, and the stomach produce enzymes. These enzymes brake down the large molecules into smaller ones, so that they can be absorbed through the intestinal wall, into the bloodstream. If you take a lot of water before meal, there is a chance that the water will dilute those enzymes, so the digestion can be slowed down and inefficient. This is particularly true for persons who often have bowel or stomach problems, and for persons with indigestion issues.

Another negative effect of water intake before meal is related to persons who are too skinny and trying to put on some weight. Scientists have shown that water intake before meal decreases food intake, and consequently the number of calories you intake during the meal. In older individuals, this problem is even more pronounced.

Persons who suffer from chronic heart failure also should not take water before meal, as some scientists are worried that it may increase the amount of fluid in the circulation which heart needs to handle.

Why You Shouldn’t Drink Water Immediately After Meal

One of the reasons you should not be taking a large amount of water after meal is the same as the above stated issue with enzymes dilution. Enzymes in small concentrations cannot perform their work properly, and you can experience bloating, indigestion, and even abdominal discomfort and pain. Of course, after a meal you usually get thirsty, especially if the food is too salty. Nevertheless, you should not drink water excessively in order to quench your thirst. Drinking water little by little is the best approach. That way, you will let your enzymes do the job, and you will not be thirsty.

Another issue is the increase of abdominal pressure when drinking a lot of water. If the content of your meal is very dry and you take a large amount of water right after that, the food will absorb the water, and you will end up thirsty again. Then you drink even more water, and your abdomen becomes bloated. This causes the increase in abdominal pressure, which is not good for the blood vessels and the heart. Especially, symptoms can get worse in persons with swelling of the legs caused by vein problems.

There is an interesting fact about thirst. When you are thirsty and you start drinking water, do you notice that moment when you are suddenly not thirsty anymore? You probably do. The thing is that the feeling of thirst disappears the moment you satisfy your need for water. Scientists have no idea how the organism knows exactly when to stop the thirst. Very recently, researchers have discovered that maybe some receptors in our tongue play a role in this mechanism, but that is a very fresh idea and it requires years of investigation


Van Walleghen EL, Orr JS, Gentile CL, Davy BM. Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):93-9.

Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition reviews. 2010;68(8):439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x.

Daniels MC, Popkin BM. Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2010 Sep;68(9):505-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00311.x.


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