Is drinking water with meals really a bad habit?

Drinking is a simple and natural gesture, so simple that it is often underestimated. As the scientist and Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi stated “Water is the stuff of life. It is matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” Well, if water is a fundamental resource for the planet, it is also for our health because it allows the body to carry out all normal metabolic processes. Our body, made up of about 75% water, in fact, constantly needs liquids and essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, chloride and phosphate.

“Many of the body’s physiological functions depend on hydration. Hydrating means maintaining normal body temperature, keeping the skin and mucous membranes elastic and compact, producing saliva and the tear film of the eye; keep the fluid tissues of the body healthy (blood, lymphatic system, pleural fluids); lubricate joints and soft tissues” explains Raffaella Cancello, nutritionist, Lifestyle Medicine Service, Obesity Center and Research Laboratory on Nutrition and Obesity, Istituto Auxologico Italiano.

The adequate daily water intake is 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women., but these parameters can vary according to everyone’s lifestyle. A particularly active individual will need to replace more fluids than their sedentary equivalent.


When you lose more fluids than you take in, you run the risk of dehydration. Often, albeit unknowingly, we find ourselves in one state of semi-dehydration, a non-dangerous condition in the strict sense, but which can negatively affect various aspects of our lives. Poor hydration can, for example, decrease concentration levels. Our brain is made up of about 90% water: lack of fluids affects decision making, memory and even mood. Drinking little can also have negative effects on an aesthetic level causing eczema, acne, psoriasis and water retention, responsible for the dreaded cellulite.

In short, in the face of the classic signs of dehydration, the advice is certainly to drink water, at a rate of approx two and a half liters a day. But is there an ideal time to hydrate? Many people, for example, to avoid abdominal bloating or digestive problems, prefer to avoid drinking water during meals. Does this fairly widespread “conviction” have a scientific foundation or is it just an unfounded myth?

drink water bad habit

According to experts, hydrating during meals would be more than useful.

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According to the gastroenterologist Olivier Spatzierer, there is no article in the literature that attests to this thesis. “Some people think that when you drink water, digestive secretions are diluted, affecting digestion. But the body is a machine that works very well and ours digestive system adapts according to what you eat. It certainly won’t be two or three glasses of water that will change this routine!”, reassures the expert.

Hydrating during meals would also be more than useful according to Alexandra Dalu, nutritionist. “The water will soften the food bolus and therefore it will help digestion”. According to the specialist, author of the book “Les 100 idées reçues qui vous empêchent d’aller biendrinking water during lunch and dinner allows, among other things, to regulate the acidity of the stomach which is triggered naturally when we eat. “Drinking forces us to take breaks, to eat more slowly, to chew better,” adds Alexandra Dalu.

A satiating drink

Those who fear the effects of a bloated belly can rest easy, as it could be the opposite! “Drinking with a meal sends a satiety signal to the brain. Hydration will saturate the mechanical receptors responsible for stomach fullness,” says the nutritionist. Ingested water will therefore increase the feeling of satiety and consequently allow you to eat less. “Two large glasses of water ingested 30 minutes before each meal act as a natural appetite suppressant,” Dalu continues.

drink water bad habit

Drinking with a meal sends a satiety signal to the brain. Hydration will saturate the mechanical receptors responsible for stomach fullness

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Which water to prefer?

“It would be good to choose water enriched with calcium, bicarbonate or magnesium because these minerals help to better digest and break down fatty acids. If you are prone to bloating it is best to avoid carbonated water,” says the nutritionist. “Finally, beware of too cold water which can disturb digestion”. Once these very simple rules have been applied, all you have to do is toast. With water, of course.

Is drinking water with meals really a bad habit?