About 30 minutes before meals, and 30 minutes or one hour after meals is ideal
Most times we usually drink water immediately after taking meals or in the course of meals. Well, as it turns out, medics say this is an unhealthy habit. So, when exactly should one drink water and how much?
Nepo Gasagwa is a resident of Kacyiru, Kigali. He takes two litres of water every day. His daily routine is one litre in the morning before breakfast, half-a-litre after lunch and another half-a-litre before he goes to bed.
He, however, says sometimes he takes food while drinking water at the time, though he adds it makes him so satisfied in a short period of time, yet it is a habit he just cannot stop.
Medics, however, say as with Gasagwa, this is a bad way to drink water.
“Various studies show the practice of drinking water immediately after or before a meal severely hinders digestion by diluting the essential gastric juices and digestive enzymes, which results in incomplete digestion of food,” says Faustin Machara, a nutritionist at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
He also says that It is recommended to drink 1- 2 glasses of water 30 minutes after a meal and to drink as much as you want two hours after the meal.
Dr Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Wellness Center Ltd in Remera, Gasobo, explains that if there are solid particles in the food you are eating and you take water immediately after eating, water mixes with solid particles which make it hard for the enzymes that are responsible for chemical digestion.
“When you ingest the food, physical digestion takes place; there is also chemical digestion taking place. Physical digestion starts from the mouth and the chemical digestion starts immediately from the mouth to the oesophagus until the stomach,” he says.
Kamanzi adds that gastric acid is responsible for chemical digestion, so taking water immediately after food complicates both chemical and physical digestion from the mouth to the stomach.
“When digestion is compromised, issues like heartburn arise due to mixing solid food with liquids (water or juice) which makes it difficult for gastric acid to separate solid particles and water. Heart burn occurs due to increase in gastric acids, such as hydraulic acid,” Kamanzi notes.
He also says heart burn comes as a symptom but after a long time a person develops ulcers since the stomach walls are damaged as acid secretion rises.
Kamanzi says drinking water or another liquid like juice immediately after meals changes the composition of food and therefore some food particles remain undigested.
Also, taking water wrongly confuses the body hence making digestion not to take place in the right way, he explains.
When you should take water
Kamanzi says the right time to take water is in the morning immediately after waking up.
“It is advisable to take a litre of warm water because in the night the body is regenerating the cells, digesting the food, blood circulation takes place and it is also when metabolism is done,” he says.
Kamanzi also says the body is like an industry trying to manufacture different products, explaining that as the products are being processed, there are waste products and that is how our bodies work at night, which is why water is very essential in the morning to help eliminate the waste.
According to Kamanzi, taking water in the morning has a positive impact on the functioning of the brain as water nourishes, activates and gives power to the brain.
He recommends that water should be taken about 30 minutes before meals, and 30 minutes or one hour after meals.
“For some people who feel nausea whenever they try to take water in the morning, they should go for a checkup because they could be suffering from amoebiasis (intestine disease). It is an obligation for people to take at least one litre of water every day,” Kamanzi explains.
He says water helps in proper kidney function.
“If you are not taking enough water, you are at a risk of developing kidney failure and kidney disease,” he says.
Kamanzi cautions that if one does not take enough water they risk developing diabetes insipidus (a condition characterized by large amounts of dilute urine and increased thirst).
He says lack of enough water in the body leads to constipation which comes with other complications like hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus).
“Whenever you do not take enough water, you lose essential composition of your body cells such as those of the skin and muscles, among others,” he adds.
However much water is important in our bodies, Kamanzi does not advise taking cold water because it causes respiratory and gastro disorders which changes the functioning of the body. Cold water also causes influenza and bronchitis.
Emmanuel Nshimiyimana, a pharmacist based in Kigali, says a normal person not below 75kg should take 3 litres per day at different times.
Nshimiyimana also says when one takes very cold water, bacteria easily enter the mouth because they love cold places, which sometimes leads to throat pain.
He adds that lack of enough water is characterised with dry lips, over tiredness, lack of blood in the eyes and excessive headaches.
Shadrack Uwayezu, a pharmacist, notes that drinking water helps one to relax, release stress, fatigue and depression.
“Three quarters of the body is made up of water, so if a person is not a fun of drinking water that means there is something not operating well with their bodies,” she says.
Uwayezu adds that because pure water has no calories, no sodium and contains no fat or cholesterol, it is the best supplement for someone with diabetes. Plus, it also has no caffeine, which is a dehydrator. Sugary juices and sodas, on the other hand, do contain water but cannot be counted as part of the “eight-glass-a-day” rule. These drinks must be avoided to prevent increased glucose levels.