The Weekly Woo: A Drinking Problem

Time for The Weekly Woo… and it’s a day early! Taking apart an article from #foodbabe from 2012…

In this article, Hari states that it aids digestion to not drink water with your meal. Let’s examine her claims and advice…

“When you digest foods without complications, the feelings of happiness, contentment, clarity, optimism, and lightness appear in your body. To maximize those wonderful feelings it is really important to understand how drinking can effect digestion.”

Right off the bat, pure bullshit. I don’t recall ever seeing a scientific journal publishing a paper on someone feeling more optimistic and filled with clarity because of their digestion.

“When several studies were published about how consuming cold water increases your metabolism a few years ago, you could literally hear the ice plumping into glasses across the country. People thought – “Wow, if I just drink cold water all day, I can lose weight!” – well this bit of wisdom is a double edged sword. While drinking cold water does speed up your metabolism (about 4 extra calories per 8 ounces of water), it does so by using energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature. This diverts energy that should be used for digestion.”

Your body can, indeed, walk and chew gum at the same time. I believe Hari forgot laws of thermodynamics as they apply to the body, as a calorie is a unit of heat. Your body can both bring the cold water to equilibrium with your body temperature via burning stored fat and digest food at the same time without any problems. Your stomach does one, your fat cells handle the other.

“When you have bad digestion – you could actually gain weight in the long run, because toxins can be built up in your digestive organs which can inhibit the bodies (sic) ability to breakdown fat, cause insatiable cravings and mess with your body’s ability to determine if you are full or not. “

First, exactly what is “bad digestion”? This hasn’t even been established to be a thing. This is just something she pulled out of her well formed derriere because there wasn’t a major corporation to hold hostage today. Second, this word ‘toxins’ that she always throws around? As she always eats so perfectly, there are allegedly no toxins in her diet. But, since your body is an amazing system, any and all waste products are eliminated. Seriously, the toilet paper industry is a thing. This happens. And third, breaking down fat happens via bile made from the liver, and it’s not a place where ‘toxins’ are stored.

Okay, maybe alcohol and sugar. Tomayto, tomahto… alcohol and sugar, pina colada.

But again, she hasn’t defined these toxins. Not even once.

“Drinking liquids during your meal dilutes your naturally occurring digestive enzymes and stomach acids which makes it harder to breakdown food. Stomach acids are dissipated with the act of consumings (sic) liquids with solids because water is excreted faster than solids.”

This assumes that it’s only liquid that dilutes stomach acid. Add anything to a system and it dilutes the chemical or biological agents that are already in it; whether you’re chewing a cupcake, sipping a smoothie, or guzzling water? It all dilutes the stomach acid because there are now contents in your stomach. The kinda neat trick is that your body keeps making more of it as needed.

“Focus on hydrating yourself between meals vs. during. You’ll still be adequately hydrated throughout the day with this method and allow your food to be digested without complicating matters for your stomach and intestines.”

I never realized that digestion was complicated. At this rate, I believe she has way, way over-complicated it.

“If you must drink with your meals, sip on a warm beverage. Good options are room temperature water with lemon or herbal tea – the temperature will be closer to your body’s normal heat and ease digestion vs disrupting it. Ginger is my favorite type of tea to drink with or after meals because it naturally moves food from the upper part of the digestive tract into the lower”

First, we’ve covered that temperature isn’t an issue. Second… moves naturally? Any fluid moves naturally from upper to lower digestive tract. It’s a combination of gravity and the way your digestive system moves food through it, any liquid truly will be fine.

Some extra support from a few decent sources…

Lastly, as a runner, my advice? Drink whenever the hell you’re thirsty.

-Science Babe

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About SciBabe 79 Articles
Yvette d'Entremont, aka SciBabe, is a chemist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and their four pets. She bakes a mean gluten free chocolate chip cookie and likes glitter more than is considered healthy for a woman past the age of seven.

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