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One of the no-no’s of Ayurveda is drinking water with meals. Sipping room temperature water with a meal is helpful, but drinking water in quantity during meals is not allowed.
Sadly, this mandate has obscured a very important practice linking drinking water with better digestion and weight loss.
A new study in the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research suggests that drinking water before meals can increase thermogenesis, which is the generation of heat in the body. In this study, the increased thermogenesis over time yielded a significant reduction in weight, body mass index (BMI) and body composition scores. Wow – all from drinking water!
In the study, 50 overweight girls drank 500ml (a little over 16 ounces) of water 1/2 hour before having breakfast, lunch and dinner for eight weeks. This added up to 1500ml or 50.72oz a day, which was above their normal daily water intake. Their weight loss, body mass index (BMI) and body composition scores were all highly statistically significant.
How Water Works!
The stomach is lined with a bicarbonate layer which is needed to buffer the stomach acids produced during digestion. This buffer layer is made up of 80% water. If the body is dehydrated and this bicarbonate buffer layer doesn’t have the adequate water ratio, the stomach will simply not produce sufficient acid, recognizing that the acid will not be buffered properly.
This lack of digestive acid causes undigested food to pass through the stomach into the intestines were it irritates, congests and swells the lining of the gut and the lymph drainage vessels. The result is poor digestion, weight gain and poor health.
In other words, plenty of water = more digestive acids produced to help break down those hard-to-digest foods that we all love.
Make this Your Water Rule of Thumb
Ayurveda suggests to drink a large glass of water 15-30 minutes before a meal to pre-hydrate the stomach’s water-rich bicarbonate buffer layer. With a hydrated buffer layer, the stomach can produce a significant amount of acid and thus increase thermogenesis as the study suggests. With more acid, the body can digest hard-to-digest foods like wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and soy more efficiently without indigestion.
As predicted in Ayurveda and verified in this study, a large glass of water prior to the meal can support healthy weight loss, body mass index and better body composition – all results of thermogenesis.