Have you ever heard that drinking beverages with meals is bad for your digestion? Or that can cause toxins to accumulate, leading to a variety of health issues?
That’s why we decided to find out if it’s a fact or just another myth.
The basics of healthy digestion
Digestion starts in your mouth as soon as you start to chew your food. During digestion, food gets broken down within your body so that its nutrients can be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Once in your bloodstream, nutrients travel to different areas of your body. Digestion ends when the leftover materials are excreted.
Depending on what you eat, this whole digestive process can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
MYTH 1: Drinking acidic or alcoholic drinks with meals dries up saliva, making it more difficult for your body to digest food.
- acidic drinks seem to increase saliva secretion
- alcohol does decrease saliva flow by 10–15% per unit of alcohol (this mainly refers to hard liquor — not the low alcohol concentrations in beer and wine)
MYTH 2: drinking water with meals dilutes stomach acid and digestive enzymes, making it more difficult for your body to digest food.
This claim implies that your digestive system is unable to adapt its secretions to the consistency of a meal, which is false.
MYTH 3: fluids increase the speed at which solid foods exit your stomach.
This is thought to reduce the meal’s contact time with stomach acid and digestive enzymes, resulting in poorer digestion. Yet, no scientific research supports this claim.
A study (R S Fisher, 1982) that analysed stomach emptying observed that, although liquids do pass through your digestive system more quickly than solids, they have no effect on the digestion speed of solid food.
Liquids may improve digestion, reduce appetite and calorie intake
Liquids help break down large chunks of food, making it easier for them to slide down your oesophagus and into your stomach. They also help move food matter along smoothly, preventing bloating and constipation.
Drinking water with meals can also help you pause between bites, giving you a moment to check in with your hunger and fullness signals. This can prevent overeating and may even help you lose weight. This does not apply to beverages that have calories.
For most people, drinking liquids with meals is unlikely to negatively affect digestion. That said, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liquids with meals may negatively affect you.
That’s because liquids add volume to your stomach, which can increase stomach pressure like a large meal would. This can lead to acid reflux for people with GERD.
Are you eager to start eating healthier and improve the state of your digestion?