To drink or not to drink with meals?

Almost everybody knows that you shouldn't drink during meals. However, in practice, there aren't many who follow this rule. Is it really a big mistake? Or maybe a theory which states that drinking during meals causes negative consequences is not justified?

What's it all about?

Drinking beverages with meals is perceived as the action against the good condition of digestive tract and efficient absorption of nutrients. It is thought that such practice leads to “dilution of stomach juices” and disturbance of digestion. As a result, the body has difficulties, food stays in the stomach for a long time and it still has some problems with using the nutrient potential. Additionally, there may occur heartburn, bloat, flatulence and other unpleasant ailments.

With a critic eye

The justification mentioned above may seem coherent and convincing, but after more thorough analysis, it's easy to see some faults in it. It's easy to understand that on concrete examples. Food products which we eat every day differ among one another with the content of water. And so, some products (e.g. nuts, seeds) contain small amount of water, and others (like fruits and vegetables) are almost in 90% made of water. If it was true that the presence of water in the stomach disables digestion, then we should be warned not only from drinking beverages during meals, but also, e.g. from eating watermelon, as it contains a lot of water. Also, all kinds of soups should be considered unhealthy, as they are the mixture of solid food and liquid – actually, you can call them “pre-watered meals”.

The belief, according to which you shouldn't drink beverages during meals isn't scientifically justified, either. There are no studies which would confirm that such practice really disturbs digestion. The conclusion was drawn on the basis of common sense, although it may be sometimes a good point of reference, but it often leads to a blind alley. It's surprising that even doctors or dietitians incline to not drinking during meals and they support their guidelines with the matter of “diluting digestive juices”, which is not proven...

On the other hand...

When summarizing this topic, it's worth taking under consideration the fact that it happens very often that the beverages we drink during meals make us eat faster and... more. Resigning from drinking during meals makes us chew each bite longer and feel full much faster. People losing weight should consider this fact.

Summary

There isn't any convincing evidence for disturbing digestion processes by sipping during meals. Therefore, you can do that if you want, but you should pay attention to what you pour into the glass. It's also good to remember that drinking beverages during meals may cause that you will eat more – and not everybody is fine with that.