Question: In the Summer issue of Health Science you stated that consuming liquids with meals will not dilute digestive juices sufficiently to prevent absorption of nutrients. You went on to say that only an unhealthy diet generates thirst at mealtime. What is the ideal time to wait after a meal to begin drinking water? How much water do you recommend an individual drink each day?
Answer: There is no specific amount of water that everyone should drink. Water needs vary with the water content and salt content of the diet and of course exercise and surrounding temperature.
The main point is that a healthy diet is one that has a low sodium and high water content. If I just had two grapefruits, two Minneola oranges and a box of strawberries for breakfast, I am running to the bathroom all morning, should I try to force myself to drink water on top of that? For lunch I had a large salad with an avocado and two big juice beefsteak tomatoes and a big bowl of vegetable bean soup and a mango. I will be running to the bathroom all afternoon, should I drink water on top of that?
Of course, if I ate the cancer-causing, heart-attack-causing American style of eating, with 3 - 8 grams of stroke-causing sodium per day, it would be wise to try to flush out all the dangerous excesses with more water. If you are dying to drink water after a meal and watching the clock, then you did not eat a healthy meal. Healthy meals are naturally rich in water and low in sodium, they do not generate thirst. However, if you have thirst, drink immediately and don’t wait a specific time after eating to do so. When you are thirsty it reflects a degree of dehydration that should be corrected with more water as quickly as possible. I repeat, do not artificially withhold liquid after eating, under the false assumption that is healthier to not dilute digestive juices. When you are thirsty, drink.
I drink about 16 – 24 oz of water with my daily exercise, and rarely drink water at other times because my diet has such a high water content. I have another 8 oz. glass of water in the mid-afternoon. In the summer, I drink even more, especially if I am outdoors, playing tennis in the heat. In summary, frequent thirst and constant drinking is a sign someone is not eating healthfully. The common advice to drink 8 glasses a water a day (64 ounces) may be wise for those eating a standard (disease-causing) diet, but for those of us striving for nutritional excellence that would be overkill.