Drinking Water before or After food? A Wrong Habit – Ayurveda Proof

Mr Tarun asks – Most of the Ayurvedic personnel say different things. Some doctors advise not to drink water before food, in between food & at least for 1 hr after food. Some say that don’t take it before & after food but can be had in between meals. Can you please clarify this ? In my case I am drinking water in between meals & not before & after meals. Is this okay ?
Personally I too have seen in many online platforms, many Ayurvedic doctors suggesting to drink water after food. Let us nail this subject with authentic traditional reference once and for all. Let us empty out all doubts regarding this topic for once.

How much water should we actually drink?

I have written about this, in detail here.
To sum up, You are supposed to drink water only when thirsty. Thirst is a natural urge. Natural urges should be attended only when they arrive, as per Ayurveda. For example, we need to eat food only when we are hungry.
(Related article – why I skipped my lunch today? )
We need to urinate and defecate only when there is an urge for it. The purpose is to maintain the body’s natural circadian rhythm. To attune body to the nature based on signals given by nature. So, the point is, a normal person does not need excess of water to drink. However, in certain diseases, there are exceptions.

When to drink water, in relation to meal? 

Many Ayurveda doctors, many science websites including ‘Discovery’ have advised not to drink water in between a meal. But as per Ayurveda, you are supposed to drink water between the meals only. (Let us get into its reference a bit later.)

Drinking water before food – As per Ayurveda, drinking water before food dilutes and weakens the Agni (digestion strength) as water is coolant in nature. This coolant property of water is directly opposite to digestion strength. Hence taking water before food is not ideal.

Drinking water after food –
It affects both the quality of food and digestion strength. It gives a touch of coolant effect to whatever the food is eaten. Hence a person tends to become obese over a period of time, by this method. Hence it is not ideal.

Drinking water in between food –
It helps to moisten the food, it helps to breakdown food particles into smaller pieces, it quenches thirst, hence it is ideal.

Sanskrit verse

water before or after food

Reference: Ashtanga Hrudayam, Sutrasthana 5th chapter

Meaning –
Water should not be consumed / water should be consumed in very little quantity, by those suffering from poor digestive function, tumours of the abdomen, anaemia, enlargement of the abdomen, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, diseases of the duodenum, dropsy.
Except during Sharad (autumn) and Nidagha (summer) even healthy persons should drink less quantity of water in the other seasons. 13-14

Jalapana Phala

Jalapana phala- (effects of drinking water with respect to meals)
Drinking water before meals – causes emaciation, weakness.
Drinking water after meals – causes obesity
Drinking water in between meals – healthy habit

If water is not to be had, then how to take medicines before meals?
While taking medicines, water, in required quantity can be had, 20 minutes before meals.

72 thoughts on “Drinking Water before or After food? A Wrong Habit – Ayurveda Proof”

  1. Excellent article doctor, there were so many confusions regarding this. Though I used to drink excess water somewhere I felt this is not correct and the article is here to solve confusions.
    Can you please write a article on the ancient Indian utensils like bronze and copper, recently there is a rave about goodness in cooking with these utensils, I definitely want to buy some.

  2. please clarify how much litre to be taken in a day?.As per Japanese and ancient Chinese system drinking about 650 ml water early in the morning without brushing cleanses your lymphatic system and cut off much diseases. even i found this is useful for acidity and haemorrhoids. please clarify.

  3. Dear Dr hebbar
    Really it is good arcticle to resolve persons confusion regarding intake of water ,

  4. Sir the thing is still not clear to me. For how long before & after meal the water isn’t to be taken. You haven’t mentioned the gap which is the most important aspect of this question put up by me. Waiting for your answer. Thanks

  5. sir thanks for being informative but i have to clarify that whether the temp. of water to be taken is also mentioned in our ayurveda or we shd drink lukewarm water

  6. This is a wonderful article,especially the clarification to drink when thirsty. This is the true virtue of Ayurveda to answer nature’s urges. There has been so much written on the amount of fluids to have per day, and it makes perfect sense..liquid before or after food will douse the fire of agni. Thank you for the time clarification for before and after food. Ayurvedic practitioners, students, and lay people are blessed with your knowledge. I keep a file of all your postings to assist me with my practice.
    With Gratitude.

    • Hello Suzanne Maio, I feel my work satisfying when I receive comments from good Ayurveda practitioners like you, saying that they feel enabled to help their patients better with my articles. Thank you very much and wish you all the success. 🙂

  7. If drinking water before or after the meal supposedly dilutes the Agni, will it not have the same effect, if taken during the course of the meal?

      • Currently, there are 120 comments waiting for my reply. I cannot spend more than half an hour per day on this. My general time to reply to comments is one week.

    • During the course of meal, the Agni will start interacting with the food to initiate the process of digestion. Hence, water consumed at this point would be used up by the food particles to disintegrate. There will be only less interaction between agni and the water at this point of time.

  8. Dear Dr Hebber,

    The above article on “When to Drink Water in Relation to Meal” has been explained brilliantly in a very simple manner and solves all queries we had until this time. Your efforts and hard work are commendable.

    Best regards,
    Kunwar Singh

  9. Sir, I take warm water (approx 4-5 glasses) in the morning without brushing my teeth or gargling & in my case too this has worked wonders in my acidity related complaints along with the medicines of course. I have followed only simple rules of Ayurveda & benefited by following them only. Didn’t read any book on Ayurveda for these simple rules. More than the medicines it’s the lifestyle & diet that helps us which is what I have analyzed. I think my body was able to revive because I never indulged in too many medicines also. After 2001 never took a single medicine(not even chyawanprash) till 2010. These last 3 yrs have been horrific as I haven’t taken medicines for such a long time(didn’t take it in large quantity till last 3 months also where I doubled my dosage as my body began to cope up after that & now is recovering faster) previously in my life. Now everything has come back. The pain towards liver side too has come down. Just a little problem is remaining which too will go away in this month itself I think. Long live Ayurveda & thanks Sir for sharing your knowledge with the whole world.

  10. dear,sir,
    very good artical,i like it very much,please write about how many time we take food and how much please clear it.please

  11. Hare Krishna. Namaskar, Doctor. Thank you very much. Would you kindly touch on the topic of hot water during meals and between meals? i understand it has a different effect than cold.

  12. It is mentioned that drinking water either before, or after, meals dilutes the ‘Agni’. If so, please explain how drinking water during the course of the meals does not dilute the ‘agni’.

    • While taking food Agni is indulged in reacting with food and the water that is taken will be used up to moisten and disintegrate large food particles into small chunks.

  13. Dr JV Hebbar,

    I salute you for the exemplary work you are doing by publishing articles on various aspects of health and Ayurveda. Particularly, this article on the time of consumption of water is highly helpful.

    On behalf of many of your admirers, I request you to enlighten us on the “Water Therapy” being propagated and practiced in the recent years. I wonder how intake of around 3 ltrs. of water at a time in the morning helps in improving health!

    With respectful regards,

    Nitin K. Parekh

  14. Namaste, a very thought provoking article, I thank for your efforts in giving good basic and at times details articles of ayurveda, I m a radiologist but with interest in herbal and ayurvedic medicine,regards

  15. good morning Dr. Hebbar,
    Thanks for very helpful article.
    Use full in our daily life.
    I want to know about hives- reason and medicine and what type of care should be taken in Ahar-food ?

    • Dear Ms Sneha, as per Ayurveda, Hives occur due to imbalance of Kapha and Pitta.
      Regular use of turmeric, curry leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger is useful to avoid hives.

  16. Very useful information. Instead of going with the stream you have put the facts with proof for all to see. Thank you Dr. By the way is it possible to increase the Agni(Digestive power).

    • There are many ways to increase agni.
      Fasting once in a while, regular exercise, including safe spices such as ginger, pepper, etc are a good ways to improve agni.
      Many Ayurvedic medicines are also used for this purpose.

  17. Hi Sir,
    Im having problems with my digestive system, seems like my digestive fire is low or weak so i get bloated and fluctuance couple hours after meal.i really want to correct this by drinking water in appropriate times to i can increase my digestive fire, i also find it hard to gain weight. i want to ask Dr, If drinking water soon before and after a meal is bad for our digestion.could you tell me is the water or any other liquid that taken in between meal have limited quantity?could i drink 250ml of water or any other liquid in between the meals?

    • Hi Arnaz, Like I have explained in the article, drinking water soon after or before food is not ideal. However, you can have 250 ml of water while taking a meal (in between).

    • Hot water in small quantities can be had before food. But as a general rule, it is best to avoid any water – hot / cold just before food.

    • Hi Dr,
      Okay then, Thank you very much for all of your answer to me.i will add this weight gaining foods into my diet

  18. Hi, all the allopathic ENT doctors disapprove of putting ear drops in ear, fearing infection. If the oil is genuine and pure, I do not see a problem with oil ear drops.

  19. “In western country most of there foods contains less liquids like pizza, bread, pasta, burger, sandwich etc.. so they will always have a liquid along with there meal like green tea, coak, soup or beer etc.. In india meals, Normally our food contains lot of water in itself example: idli, dosa with sambar or chutney , rice with sambar,rasam,butter milk etc..
    so a typlical indian meals dont need water in between meals (unless if something is more hot, salty or spicy…) also if we eat slowly and chew nicely we dont need water in between.” this is explantion from one of the ayurvedic doctor. but it was accepted that we should not have water immediately before or after meal.
    Problem with me is i am convinced with above statement and what you said regarding water in between meal is also logical. At last i am confused.:-)

    • Hi, liquid in any form is good to have between meals and water before or after meals is not good. That is the bottom line.

  20. I would like to clear up a misunderstanding. “In between meals” does not mean “during a meal”. It means between breakfast and lunch or lunch and tiffin or between tiffin and dinner or between dinner and supper. In yoga we were taught that we should avoid drinking water half or one hour before or after a meal and during the meal. One hour before or one hour after the meal one may drink water. Drinking water during the meal
    fills up the stomach and some people do it to diet. It is not a good practice as it affects the proper digestion of food. I usually drink water only when thirsty the doctor says.
    Hope I have clarified the matter.
    Regards to all. Happy eating! Happy Deepavali!
    L.Kalavathi B.Sc.(Hons) Physics, MBA, CAIIB, MA(Yoga)
    Retd. Bank Official
    Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
    30th October, 2016

  21. Thanks for the educational article. I do have a query. I take a ayurvedic herb
    as a natural medicine to help me regularize my bowels.it is to be taken with water, after food. After how long should I take my medicine after my meal for it to be effective?

    • Sir, According information collected from different sources, it is learnt that a small amount of water can be taken before start of food. Again small amount of water can be taken between different varieties of food taken. And also at the end of meal small amount of water can be taken. Before half of an of taking food and up to half of an hour after taking food, no water should be taken. This will help generation of sufficient saliva which will help digestion. If water is taken up to taking food, during the course of eating food and immediately after taking food, saliva can not be generated. Saliva only help digestion of food and not water.

  22. Dr, Got confused by L.Kalavathi comment as i didnt see your reply on it, in between food means you are referring to during food only right?

  23. Dr. Hebbar, your depth of understanding of Ayurveda makes you present complex facts in such an easy to understand manner… Brilliant Sir ! God bless .

  24. Hi,
    1. The rule of not drinking before / after meals – is for healthy people without health complaints, to maintain their health.
    In people with acidity or any disorder, the rule may change.

    2. The ill effects explained does not show up on a short span. They are the long time effect.

  25. Sir..from few days i have indigestion problem…any heavy food like chicken, fatty item when evr i take i hv indigestion issue along with acidity or gas problem sometimes

  26. Dr Hebbar I agree with you, from my understanding also drinking water before breakfast will avoid the person to take breakfast as the hydrochloride acid in his stomach is diluted.

  27. Thank you very much Sir, for this valuable information,
    I had to ask that in ayurveda is it not mentioned that we should
    drink no drop of water with food
    as Rajiv Dixit said or is it false that we should not drink a drop of water with food.

  28. Thank you Sir.
    When now I drink water between food consumption I feel good.
    Previously I was misguided by Rajiv Dixit, many of his claims would be wrong then.

  29. Thanks so much, doctor. A lot of confusion prevails both with regard to when and how much to drink. Authentic information from you

  30. Amazing article undoubtedly Sir! But i have doubt. Is it not true that water is neutral in nature, it is neither alkaline nor acidic which means that it will have little or no impact on the digestive juices ( cannot dilute them like a base does) then how will it reduce the digestive fire? How can water have a cooling effect on the digestive strength then?

    • the digestive juices operate in an acidic medium. If water is added to acid, acid gets diluted. There is difference between dilution and neutralization.
      The very nature of water is – coolant. Hence, wherever cold water is used, it exhibits coolant effect.


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