Does Drinking Water Affect Food Digestion?

The human body uses water for the functions that sustain life. This makes water one of the most essential nutrients your body needs. People can survival a considerable amount of time without food, but remarkably few days without drinking water. On average, you can expel up to 10 cups of water each day, according to nutrition specialist P. Kendall at Colorado State University Extension. Drinking water with a meal can offer some benefits to digestion as well.

Young woman drinking glass of water. (Image: Adam Gault/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Why Water Matters?

The body is made up of 60 percent water. This fact alone tells you how crucial water is to life. Every physiological function and organ depends at some level on water. It helps flush toxins, transports nutrients, controls body temperature and provides moisture to membranes. You lose water every minute through sweat, breathing and waste removal, so you need to refill the water supply to maintain body functioning. Digestion is one of the processes that benefit from water intake.

How Much Water Do You Need?

Mayo Clinic recommends up to 9 cups a day, but different individuals may have different needs. The traditional approach follows the rule of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But research has found that your body needs more fluid than just this standard recommendation of 64 ounces of water a day. Men should drink 3 liters or about 100 ounces of fluids a day and women up to 2.2 liters or around 74 ounces. This can include other fluids, such as coffee, juice or tea, to equal the total liquid you need. Timing your intake will put the water to use as a digestive aid.

Digestion and Water

It is not necessary to drink water in order to digest food, but it may be useful. Drinking water while you eat can help break down food. Water during a meal is not essential to food digestion, however. It does help flush waste from the intestines and may help relieve constipation. A better approach to improving digestion would be to cut back on fatty foods and increase the number of fruits and vegetables you eat.

Expert Insight

Water can be a tool that helps you manage your weight and in that way play a role in digestion. Water takes up space in the stomach.This means that drinking a glass of water before eating and with a meal can help you eat less. Adding water to your meals can help meet your daily requirement and create a beneficial habit.

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