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A number of Facebook posts suggest various timings on when one should drink water. We fact-checked and found the suggestions to be False. There are no scientifically proven benefits of drinking water at any specific time. Neither modern medicine, nor Ayurvedic medicinal practice has any specific instructions about drinking water at any specific time of the day.
The posts are similar but presented differently. While some posts clearly mention the specific time to drink water, others put forward a time interval suggestion about drinking water. Some of these posts can be seen here, here, and here. A snapshot is also given below.
Is there a scientifically proven time to drink water?
NO. There is no ‘right time’ for drinking water.
In a 2019 study on water consumption researchers mention, “The timing of beverage consumption in the course of the day may have additional implications for adequate hydration. There is emerging mythology about the correct time to drink water in the course of the day. However, evidence in support of those strategies is limited.
Since, such claims are often wrongly credited to Ayurveda, we decided to consult Dr. P. Rammanohar, Research Director, Amrita Centre for Advanced Research in Ayurveda (ĀCĀRA).
Dr. Rammanohar says, “Thirst is a vega or natural reflex according to Ayurveda. The rule is that one must drink whenever one is thirsty. Thirst should not be ignored. Having said that, Ayurveda does not recommend drinking water in large quantities at a time, except in summer and autumn when there is more heat and sweating. In these seasons, one should replenish one’s body with enough water as it is lost by sweating. In other seasons, one must drink water when thirsty and in small quantities throughout the day. There is no special recommended time for drinking water in Ayurveda.”
1. After waking up: A number of articles that suggest drinking water as soon as you wake up suggest the need for hydration. However, the benefits of drinking water are universal and there is no scientific evidence that suggests our body needs extra hydration after waking up.
Dr. Rammanohar says, “Ayurveda suggests sipping hot water in the morning but it is for bowel movements.”
General Physician Dr. S Krishna Prasanthi, MBBS, MD (PGIMER) agrees, “Human body has a homeostasis mechanism to maintain the hydration levels in the body. The liver and kidney work efficiently throughout day and night to remove toxins. However, if a person has difficulty in passing stools , consuming warm water increases bowel movements and relieves constipation to a certain extent, provided the consumed food has adequate fibre.”
2. Before and After Meal: Once again, there is no particular research that suggests any direct benefit of having water before and after meals. Many people believe drinking water before and after meals helps in digestion, while many others believe drinking water close to mealtimes or during meals will disturb digestion. There is no scientific evidence to support either of the claims.
However, there is a small study that found that drinking water before a meal helped men and women eat less and feel just as satisfied as a group who didn’t drink water before.
Dr. Rammanohar says, “there is no question of not drinking water. Rather Ayurveda suggests drinking water in small sips along with meals. Large quantities of water should be avoided.”
3. After Workout: There are some benefits of drinking water after a workout. However, evidence suggests that there are benefits of drinking water before a workout and during a workout too.
While research has shown that, “Prevention of dehydration after exercise by oral water intake, or oral water intake per se has a role in maintaining post-exercise mean arterial blood pressure.”
However, similar research has proved that drinking water before and during workouts also has benefits.
4. Before a bath: Many people who suggested this believes that drinking water before a bath will help reduce blood pressure. A Washington University article debunks this as a Myth. The article suggests, “Your blood pressure will not be affected because it is under the tight control of various hormones. If you are severely dehydrated and your blood pressure drops below the normal level, that system of hormones will cause you to feel thirsty. In the case of dehydration, drinking water will actually help increase blood pressure to a normal level.”
Dr. Prasanthi says, “This claim too doesn’t have any scientific validity. Blood pressure in the body is maintained by a complex mechanism of Renin-Angiotension-Aldosterone mechanism. While extreme dehydration due to vomitings, diarrhea might result in lowering of blood pressure, there is no specific benefit for drinking water before bath.”
5. Before Sleep: There is little evidence to suggest any specific benefits of drinking water at bedtime. Rather drinking more water before bedtime can result in Nocturia. Nocturia is the increased need to urinate at night. Repeatedly getting up can reduce both the duration and quality of sleep which in turn can lead to risks of stroke and heart attack.
Is there a suggested amount of water you should drink every day?
There are multiple debates on ‘how much’ water should an adult consume daily and suggestions from the public health experts have also changed from time to time. As per an article on Nature, “The amount of fluid needed varies between people and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet and levels of physical activity, so it is difficult to set DRVs(dietary reference values)”
One research has shown that “The recommended total daily fluid intake of 3,000 ml for men and of 2,200 ml for women is more than adequate.”
The same research also mentions, “Higher fluid intake does not have any convincing health benefits, except perhaps in preventing (recurrent) kidney stones.”
Is there a right posture to drink water? Should you drink water only while sitting down?
No. There is no scientific evidence that a particular posture is suggested while drinking water. No such recommendation is also given in Ayurveda.
Dr. Rammanohar says, “Ayurveda suggests that food should be consumed while sitting down to avoid choking. There is no recommendation on how to drink water. But it’s common sense that you should not consume water in a hurry, or drink too much water too fast, or drink while in a wrong position. Those things can cause choking.”
Dr. Prasanthi says, “People who make this claim believes drinking water while standing hampers the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract, and also risks lungs and heart functions. There is a involuntary mechanism in the body called peristaltic movement that begins at the oesophagus, as soon as the food (either liquid or solid) is swallowed. Contrary to the popular claim that the liquid is moved directly under the effect of gravity, it is this peristalsis that propels the distal movement of food. So, there is no scientific validation behind not drinking water while standing. However, one must avoid consuming liquids while lying in bed as it may result in aspiration (liquid food entering respiratory tract and lungs) that may result in infections.
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