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Water with meals… good or bad?

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2018-07-11

It’s no secret. The message is clear…

The facts are there to support the dictate:

  • up to 70% of your body is water (depending on your age, gender and health status)

  • nearly half your brain is water

  • hunger is often a mis-signaling for thirst

  • with age, water content decreases (meaning drinking more water can actually slow the aging process!)

But do I drink enough?
How much is enough?

Is quality a concern?

And when should I drink it?


It’s one of those topics I find best to think about incrementally. If I consider the safety of our drinking water, the water I used to shower this morning, the container from which I drink my water when I workout, and how much water I’m drinking through the day all at the same time, it’s daunting. So I’ve approached my relationship to water over time, addressing the how, the why, the what and the when as I am ready.

Today, let’s consider the when.


Truth be told, I naturally have no desire to drink when I eat. So much so that I often forget to serve my family and friends water with meals. I’m only reminded that others want water with their food by their intermittent leaps up from the table to visit the filter in the kitchen, prompted by my oversight.

I’d always assumed that my distaste for drinking and eating at the same time came from an instinct that the two were misaligned. And while this may be true for my digestive system, it’s a myth that holds no credence.

Legend is that drinking water with a meal will dilute stomach acidity.

The dilution of stomach acidity then inhibits our ability to breakdown foods, particularly proteins (and a whole host of issues can ensue from there.) Yet it turns out that water won’t significantly affect the digestive juices and therefore will not interfere with digestion. In fact, the opposite may be true!

Water consumed before meals stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the involuntary contraction and relaxation of muscles that moves food through the GI tract.

Some research shows that drinking water boosts metabolism for up to an hour after being consumed. And consider this: drinking water will help balance weight!

Your body’s signals for satiety are based on many factors. One of the most simple anatomical factors is the expansion of the stomach. That can be achieved with both food and water.

You are unique!

The claim that water impairs digestive juices assumes that your body cannot adapt its secretions to the consistency of a meal. This is just not the case for most of us, unless, of course, digestion is already impaired in some way. If you, like me, find that drinking water when eating is not palatable, pick up your water bottle at other times of the day than meal time! Tune-in to your body and let it inform you what works for you.

You may be surprised how many other health conditions can virtually disappear with the introduction of more water into your daily routine.

These include heartburn, arthritis, chronic pain (back and otherwise), irritable bowel issues, high blood pressure and more. Its surprising, but ultimately it makes perfect sense! Look at the importance of water in your body:

  • water moistens the tissues throughout the body

  • water helps to regulate body temperature

  • water assists in the protection of our body organs

  • water prevents constipation

  • water lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver, flushing toxins out of the body

  • water lubricates your joints

  • water dissolves minerals and other nutrients, making them more accessible to the cells

  • water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells

Water, water, water!

But usually the tricky part is not the knowing that you “should” drink more (I think we all know that), but instead the action of doing it.

To inspire, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips to help you include more water in your daily routine (10 tips plus one bonus to be exact).

10 tips for more water

Print it and pin it so you’re reminded through the day. (Right on your water cooler or next to your kitchen sink would be a good place!)

Your Water Action Step!

Pick one tip from the Top 10 Handout that’s new to you and give it a whirl for a few days and watch your water intake increase.


I’d love to hear it! (I’m always looking for ways to help clients heighten their hydration).

Share your tip with me at the FxNA Facebook page or let me know which tip you plan to try.

Let’s clink (water) glasses on it!

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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