Proper digestion is one of the vital processes in the body. Your digestive system breaks down the food you eat into nutrients that are then passed through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream for the body to use. In this way, vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates are transported throughout the body, thus ensuring proper function of all the organs. If your digestion is compromised, your body cannot digest foods or absorb nutrients properly.
It’s true that your digestive health is directly linked to the food you eat, but there’s one simple rule you can follow prior to each meal to improve your digestion and reduce the risk of bloating – drink water.
WATER AND DIGESTION
According to a number of health experts, drinking water before each meal can significantly improve your digestion on several levels. First of all, drinking 1-2 glasses of water half an hour before your meal stimulates mucus production in your stomach. Your stomach lining is made of mucus, 90% of which is water. Plus, your stomach contains acid and protein-digesting enzymes, which the mucous lining protects your stomach tissue from. Stimulating your mucous lining before meals will help you avoid heartburn.
Second, sufficient water intake improves the digestive processes in all stages, from mouth to stomach to intestines, and prevents constipation. If there isn’t enough water, your body cannot digest food properly. The process known as hydrolysis transforms starches, proteins and fats into the smaller molecules of nutrients that your cells depend on. In addition, water helps your body absorb solids and pass waste through for elimination in the intestines. Your saliva, which prompts digestion of starches with the enzyme amylase, is also mainly made of water.
So, when your body is lacking water, the entire digestive process becomes compromised.
Although drinking water before meals is highly recommended, be careful to avoid it during meals. While it’s true that proper hydration improves the function of your entire digestive system, too much water during meals can actually interfere with the natural levels of acid and bile your stomach depends on to properly digest food. What’s more, too much cold water during meals can actually slow digestion and even cause cramps in those with stomach sensitivity.