Oct 05 2011

Do Cold Drinks Alter Digestion?

A common theme of this blog is that there is a great deal of misinformation out there. The internet is a double-edged sword, providing tremendous access to useful information, but increasingly buried in a mountain of bad, poorly sourced, and often just incorrect information. So the savvy internet user needs to develop the skills necessary to distinguish reliable information from misinformation.

Here is just the latest example – I was recently sent a link to this article on Discover Fit & Health – Stop Drinking Water With Meals–Seriously. The articles carries the “Discover” brand, and many readers might confuse this for an indicator of reliability. The author, Sara Novak , is described as:

…writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.

So she is not some anonymous blogger, nor does she appear to be selling dubious supplements or some multi-level marketing scheme. She is a health journalist writing for a health magazine. And yet she gives her readers this whopper:

The ancient science of Ayurveda says that drinking water during meals, specifically cold water, puts out our digestive fire so that our bodies don’t properly digest the foods we eat. As a result, it’s recommended that you avoid drinking water at least 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after your meal. If you must have a drink, sip on a room temperature beverage.

The “science of Ayurveda?” I think she means the ancient superstition of Ayurveda. Calling something a science does not make it so. I get the sense that Novak has no idea what the definition of “science” is – it’s not any body of beliefs, it refers to the methods by which a body of knowledge is built.

Her only reference for this claim is an article on NaturalNews by Elizabeth Walling – essentially we have one uninformed health writer referencing another uninformed health writer. Also, NaturalNews is a notorious crank site, in my opinion, with no scientific credibility.

The article above is also not an isolated incident. The claim that water, particularly cold water, impairs digestion is common on the web, especially in nutrition circles. I found many sites repeating this myth, including this Nutrition Counseling site, which writes:

If the stomach’s content is colder than body temperature, then foods such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, beans, nuts, and seeds, which are normally predigested in the stomach for 4-5 hours, are pushed out of the stomach to the small intestines in only 20 min.

Author, Marta Tereshchenko, gives no references for this claim.

None of this sounded right to me, so I did some searching to see what has been published with regard to these two claims – that water dilutes gastric enzymes and acid and impairs digestion, and that cold temperature meals accelerate gastric emptying.

The first claim flies in the face of basic human physiology (despite the quaint notion that water puts out our digestive “fires” – seriously?). Digestion is a water-intensive process. Some of the chemical reactions that digestive enzymes engage in actually require water. For this reason the stomach will secrete water, along with the gastric acid and digestive enzymes, to make the gastric juice that breaks down food for later further digestion and absorption in the intestines.

Water (or any drink that is mostly water) serves several functions during meals. It helps to wash food particles down the esophagus and into the stomach. It also helps to break apart large chunks of food and actually helps acids and enzymes get access to the food particles. Drinking a lot of water during a meal will dilute the enzymes in the gastric juice, but this is irrelevant to its function. The stomach is quite capable of regulating its own gastric juice content, and taking water during meals is helpful to this process. (This is textbook stuff – there are a couple of references in this overview.)

So Novak’s advice, based upon superstition and dubious crank web sites, is the opposite of the truth.

What about the claim that the temperature of food affects digestion, specifically gastric emptying? I was able to find a number of published studies that directly addressed this claim. In one study (Mishima 2009) hot meals increased gastric emptying, while cold meals did not. Another (Troncon 1988) found that meals colder or warmer than body temperature delayed gastric emptying (so food stayed in the stomach longer – the opposite of what  Tereshchenko and many others claim?).

This latter study also highlights another variable – liquid vs solid meals. They found a variable response depending on whether or not the meal was liquid or solid and the total volume (which might relate to gastric tone).

A study by Bateman in 1982 found that results were variable, and concluded that they were determined by individual physiology, and not universal. Sun 1988 found a delay in gastric emptying with cold or warm liquids. But McCarther in 1989 found no difference in gastric emptying over a wide range of temperatures.

Interestingly, in 2000 Nakae published a study that found that cold pain delayed gastric emptying – even from dipping one’s hand in cold water. This was probably mediated through a vagal nerve response. This might introduce an artifact into studies whereby the trauma of studying gastric emptying, or the cold stimulus itself (whether or not it is consumed) might delay gastric emptying.

To summarize all of this – the various studies that directly look at this question found variable responses to warm or cold liquid or solid meals, but with a tendency to find delayed gastric emptying in response to food at other than body temperature. This effect, if real, may be a nonspecific vagal response, which can either be due to temperature or any pain or trauma.

What not a single study found, however, was accelerated gastric emptying in response to cold water or food. The actual scientific results, if anything, are the exact opposite of what many of the nutrition sites are claiming.

Conclusion

With regard to the specific questions raised in the above articles, the scientific data indicates that water, of any tolerable temperature, does not have an adverse effect on digestion. Water, in fact, is critical for digestion. So, drink as much as you want (within reason, of course) during meals. If you are thirsty – drink. Thirst is the best indicator that your body wants more water.

It feels good to wash down food with water – and in this case there is a good reason. Liquids help wash down the food, they help break up the food, and aid in digestion.

All of this information is freely available on the internet. It did take some effort and searching for me to find sufficient reliable sources to flesh out this issue, however. But isn’t that the job of a health journalist – to do the leg work to find reliable information?

I get the sense that ideology, and not just laziness, is playing a role here. Both of the articles I referenced above also went further to say that poor digestion caused by cold water will cause “toxins” to build up in the body, and cause many specific health problems. This claim was also unreferenced, and is also completely bogus. Both authors appear to be buying into the “alternative” nutritional propaganda. The positive reference to the “science of Ayurveda” is also another clue that we are dealing with an ideologue, not a diligent broker of legitimate scientific information.

This is part of a disturbing trend – the substitution of carefully referenced scientific information with ideologically motivated “alternative” beliefs. There are common themes to these beliefs – they often follow the naturalistic fallacy (“natural” is always better), and often make vague references to “toxins” as a cause of illness. It is also common to grossly overestimate the role of nutrition in illness, and therefore as an intervention to deal with illness.

In this case the “alternative” approach to information led to specific recommendations (avoid water, especially cold water, during meals) that is the opposite of what scientific information tells us – that drinking water of any comfortable temperature during meals is good for digestion, and certainly is not a problem.

We also learn from this episode to be skeptical not only of information we read on the internet (yes, including this blog – don’t just believe anything I write, check out the references if you are interested), but also of sources that appear trustworthy. Just because a big media company (in this case Discover) is behind an article or an online magazine does not mean that the information or the author has been vetted and is reliable.

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30 responses so far

30 Responses to “Do Cold Drinks Alter Digestion?”

  1. Anthedonon 05 Oct 2011 at 12:25 pm

    “[...]puts out our digestive fire.”

    Oh boy, that cracks me up. Instant classic!

  2. Todd W.on 05 Oct 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Your comment about how the stomach uses water to aid in digestion brings up something else I have heard. This is from memory, so a grain of salt is called for, but I recall that if a person is severely dehydrated, that it is very important to get water and rehydrate before taking any substantial foods. This may be an instance where gastric clearing does speed up, only with the emptying going unpleasantly in the wrong direction, among other health concerns. Thoughts on that?

  3. Steven Novellaon 05 Oct 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Eating while dehydrated will likely make the dehydration worse, as the stomach and intestines will secrete water in the digestion process. Also, the digestion will be impaired by dehydration as not enough water will be secreted. It would therefore be safer, more comfortable, and optimal to digestion to hydrate first.

  4. cjablonskion 05 Oct 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve done a bit of online reading on nutrition and fitness sites, and it’s depressing how much unsupported, garbage information is out there. Publications frequently contradict themselves, often in the same article.

    Pop diet advice seems to be is its own brand of pseudoscience. It reminds me a lot of astrology.

  5. locutusbrgon 05 Oct 2011 at 3:30 pm

    “Eating while dehydrated will likely make the dehydration worse, as the stomach and intestines will secrete water in the digestion process. ”
    That would depend upon the water content of the food being digested. IE High water fruits such as citrus fruits and watermelon would be unlikely to worsen the condition and possibly improve it.
    Dehydration tends to concentrate the fluid present in the stomach High potassium and low pH combine to irritate stomach lining. Eating can stimulate the introduction of the bile salts. The cumulative gastric irritation can lead to vomiting, of course bad news if you are already dehydrated.

  6. bluedevilRAon 05 Oct 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I’m curious how far the naturalnews article went with this material. A friend forwarded me an email a few years back that made similar claims but took it one further. The email claimed that cold water led to the congealing of fats which would then stick to the side of the colon and lead to colon cancer. I wonder if this idea originated from naturalnews or if the email was the basis for the article on naturalnews.

    Here’s a description of the email chain that went out:

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_drinking_cold_water.htm

    Hilarious stuff. I often wonder if a skeptic originated emails like this just to see if people would actually fall for it.

  7. SARAon 05 Oct 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I have also seen a similar email, and also one that touts the miracles of drinking ice cold water.

    I don’t get too many of these kinds of emails anymore. My friends have all learned that if they don’t want a return email detailing all the misinformation, they had better avoid sending it to me or start checking before sending.

    10 or more years ago, before I really knew there was a skeptic movement, my mother gave me the gift of a newsletter that reported the various studies on different vitamins, and natural remedies. I recall feeling like they were fair because they often debunked some claim or another. But at the time, I wasn’t a skeptic and didn’t really know.

    My point is that they could be just as dubious, but because they sounded all “sciency” and often included some kind of debunking, I felt quite comfortable with their claims. And it might be they were a legit source. (I can’t remember the name) But, how was I to know?

    Even now, with the internet, I continue to feel the lack of easily accessible and easily discernible facts on any given ‘natural health’ issue.

    It makes it easier to assume that anyone who touts any information on the benefits of vitamins, herbs, or whatever is wrong. While the odds appear to be in favor of that, it is also not correct to assume all of the information associated with “natural” or “vitamins” or whatever is wrong.

    I don’t have access to all of the studies. And even if I did, I don’t have the training to see whether its a well run study. I rely heavily on blogs like this one.

    Its not really surprising that people are easily swayed by people who provide easily understood information, seem to come from a reliable source and provide references to studies that the reader probably doesn’t have access to, probably wouldn’t understand if he did have access, and certainly isn’t likely to feel the inclination to search out the study in the first place.

  8. daedalus2uon 05 Oct 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Not a whole lot of digestion happens in the stomach, the pH is too low. The low pH inactivates the enzymes in saliva. It is generally thought that the main role of the low pH in the stomach is to try and kill what ever is in the food that is eaten. Our ancestors didn’t always have fire to sterilize food before eating it, fire for cooking is only ~1 million years old. (oh, and also the low pH turns the nitrite in saliva to nitric oxide (can reach ~100 ppm NO in the head space) and acidified nitrite is ~100x more potent an antimicrobial than low pH by itself).

    In any case, pH 2 (very acid) means a hydrogen ion concentration of 0.01 molar. If you dilute that by half, the pH becomes 2.3.

    The bigger problem is buffering by food that consumes acid equivalents. Most proteins and amino acids and even some fatty acids like acetate are protonated at pH 2. That means anything unprotonated (like acetate) will absorb a proton.

    To raise the pH from 2 to 2.3 in one liter of stomach contents (assuming no other buffering) would take a liter of water, or 0.295 grams of acetate.

  9. tudzaon 05 Oct 2011 at 4:44 pm

    When people say “scientific” they sometimes seem to mean internally consistent. Various talks I’ve heard in the Krishna Consciousness movement and some writings by Ghandi use scriptures in that way. It is scientific because, if you take my premises as taken from sacred writings, then this conclusion must certainly be true.

  10. peterdavis86on 05 Oct 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Like the article. I got caught up with the water making digestion worse. With some anecdotal evidence mixed in with some confirmation bias and some laziness plus the multiple times randomly I read it lowers ph therefore slowing down digestion (Another logical slip up. What made me think I knew anything about digestion? Next thing I will research.) gave me a slip up (the minute i read this article i remembered all the times when I’d eat like a whole pizza and a litre of water and have no problems, which outway the amount of times I had problems that I related to the first thing I thought of. Damn correlation generalizing).

    Good lesson. I’ll be on the look out for my mistaken logic.

  11. ccbowerson 05 Oct 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I never understand what is being implied when digestion is “aided” or what “poor” digestion even means. If the issue is that GI contents are moving too quickly to be digested fully, that would result in loose stools. The reference in this post about “poor digestion” implies that it causes toxins to build up. Of course this makes no sense because digestion has little to do with toxins in this sense as the liver is the organ that does the heavy lifting of inactivating toxins.

  12. wetcheton 05 Oct 2011 at 5:33 pm

    As a skeptic and endurance “athlete” (I’m definitely an amateur, but have completed an Ironman-distance triathlon), here is a bit of lore regarding temperature of ingesting fluids: The claim is that drinking fluids close to body temperature will result in more rapid hydration. The mechanism I’ve heard is that fluids will not cross your stomach lining (at least not efficiently) until they’ve warmed up to near body temperature, so ingesting very cold fluids wastes time and energy.

    Of course, on a hot day, running or cycling for many hours, my instinct was always to drink the coldest drink I could get my hands on. However, I’ve tested this claim on multiple occasions over many months (including summer in Arizona), and tend to agree that, for me personally, my stomach appears to empty much more quickly with un-chilled fluids, and doesn’t get upset as easily.

    I have no references to back this up other than my own n=1 experiment, which admittedly is poorly controlled. (Every time I tried to blind myself I fell off my bike).

    Does anyone here know of any evidence for this claim?

    -Chet

  13. ccbowerson 05 Oct 2011 at 5:43 pm

    The comments about pH of gastric contents remiminds me that pH is another favorite of the pseudosciences in healthcare. Its fairly widespread- from claims that cancer can be prevented by altering the pH of the body to colas being toxic due to their pH of near 2.

    Of course changing the pH of the blood even very slightly can result in death, and cola (although true that its pH is 2-3) is not “toxic” because of its pH. I think this was a favorite topic of Kevin Trudeau. Apparently it is because referencing pH is a sciencey-sounding concept that the average person is somewhat familar with, but only on a superficial level.

  14. nybgruson 05 Oct 2011 at 7:30 pm

    the digestion that goes on in the stomach is mainly in proteins. Pepsinogen is released, along with trypsin, and need the low pH to be active. The low pH further protonates and denatures the proteins, unfolding their quaternary structure and allowing more access for the pepsin (which was converted by the acid from pepsinogen) and trypsin to cleave the polypeptide chains into oligopeptides. From there, it moves on to the duodenum which gets a jolt of pancreatic enzymes and bile. The pancreatic enzymes don’t work at a low pH so the Brunner’s glands secrete lost of bicard to bring the pH back up and then continue the digestion/absorption processes.

    So indeed, there isn’t too much in terms of what we’d call digestion in the stomach outside of the breaking up of large proteins, but that step is absolutely vital later on since brush border enzymes can only break down and absorb oligopeptides and single amino acids.

    Furthermore, the stomach does and will secrete copious water (though the intestines do MUCH more) and conversely will absorb much water directly. So drinking a lot of water or eating a few slices of watermelon after a meal won’t matter since the a lot of the excess will simply be taken up directly by the stomach. Alcohol can also be absorbed this way to a limited extent.

  15. ccbowerson 05 Oct 2011 at 10:08 pm

    “the digestion that goes on in the stomach is mainly in proteins. Pepsinogen is released, along with trypsin, and need the low pH to be active.”

    Although this is true, it is my understanding that the need for a low gastric pH is (as daedalus says above) is due to the role of a pH (of 1-2) in killing potential pathogens. The enzymes function at this pH because it is needed for that purpose (otherwise proteases that function at higher pH could serve the same function if low pH was not needed for any other reason).

  16. HHCon 05 Oct 2011 at 10:16 pm

    The Indian tradition discusses the concept of cold as negative. I wonder to what degree Indian land and weather patterns impact this thinking. After all, Indian land mass is warm with the exception of the cold mountain terrain. The contrast in temperature but be great to the average Indian.

  17. rezistnzisfutlon 06 Oct 2011 at 5:01 am

    Great article! As a (part-time) personal trainer, over the years I was often bombarded with questions from clients about one unsubstantiated, bogus claim of misinformation after another that they read or heard about. The internet especially is rife with it, though magazines are quite often just as bad. The good thing is, it’s forced me to counter these claims with actual scientifically backed studies and data that I had to research in order to formulate an appropriate response (teachers often learn more as teachers than they did as students).

    I do find it amazing that so many so-called journalists do not perform their due diligence. It makes me wonder what they’re teaching in school, if these people are truly receiving any sort of formal education. Maybe the publishers think that making wild, outrageous claims in articles sells more magazines and they trust that much of the unsuspecting public will take what they say at face value without concerning themselves with sources. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Also, interesting discussion on the physiology of digestion, especially of proteins, a subject of great concern in fitness and bodybuilding circles. The only thing I have to add is how the BV/BA of particular protein sources can have an effect on digestion, availability of aminos, and the time it takes for those aminos to reach the bloodstream. There is also a lot of discussion in regards to balancing pH levels in regards to dietery intake, though from what I understand, the body is remarkable at balancing pH levels (unless there is some predisposition preventing this, such as with PKU). I admit I’m rather rusty when it comes to my physiology.

    Another sidenote in relation to this article is that, not only has the quality of fitness and nutrition journalism seemed to have reduced, so has the knowledge of many so-called fitness professionals who call themselves personal trainers these days. Unfortunately, there is little regulation or oversight as to the education and training of these individuals and organizations that provide the certifications, and it seems to me that, considering the effect they could potentially have on the health of clients, it’s a rather scary proposition. Also, I find it ironic that with the glut of information and the number of trainers available, there is still rampant obesity in the US that only seems to be getting worse…

  18. nybgruson 06 Oct 2011 at 7:36 am

    @ccbowers:

    That may indeed be true, but it is a “just-so” evolutionary story – unless there is some evidence I don’t know about.

    But to me, it seems just as likely (if not more) that the bacteriocidal function was secondary. Proteins are very nicely denatured at low pH and unicellular life uses phagolysosomes to ingest food and often that involved lowering pH. The enzymes would then have evolved to operate under that functionality, and the bacteriocidal effects were secondary.

    My point is that such evolutionary tales are often “just-so” and should be tread with care.

  19. daedalus2uon 06 Oct 2011 at 12:27 pm

    When I wrote my comment I had forgotten about pepsin and trypsin.

    Nybgrus is completely right, single celled organisms do put phagocytosed stuff into vesicles where pH is lowered and proteases are ported in and the contents digested. It turns out that those single celled organisms are all eukaryotes. All eukaryotes do exhibit autophagy, where cell contents are digested at low pH with lytic enzymes which are activated at low pH. The pH of autophagy isn’t that low, it usually doesn’t get much below 4. All eukaryotes have related enzymes that do the protein hydrolysis during autophagy. All eukaryotes have to have all of their proteins susceptible to degradation by autophagy, and so there is considerable cross-reactivity between the proteolytic enzymes of one eukaryote with those of another. I think this is one reason that eukaryotes can consume other eukaryotes as food.

    The gut of all eukaryotes isn’t super low pH. Ruminants exhibit acidoses if their rumen drops below pH 5 or so and that acidosis can be life-threatening.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464909

    But ruminants require bacteria in their rumens to degrade and ferment cellulose into the volatile fatty acids that they absorb. The high levels of acetate, propionate, butyrate pretty strongly buffer the pH at ~5.5 or so, so it can’t be much different than that.

    There pretty much has to be physiology that regulates the acid/base balance and also the amount of water in the stomach. Thirst is probably one of the major physiological pathways that does that regulation. If you feel thirsty, that is probably your physiology telling you to add water.

  20. tmac57on 06 Oct 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I have a long standing acid reflux problem and cannot wean myself from PPI’s. I do drink a fair amount of water daily.Would that theoretically be better,worse,or neutral regarding acid production?

  21. ccbowerson 06 Oct 2011 at 5:06 pm

    “That may indeed be true, but it is a “just-so” evolutionary story.
    …But to me, it seems just as likely (if not more) that the bacteriocidal function was secondary.”

    If you are stating that we should acknowledge the uncertainty involve in this issue, then I agree. It is perfectly reasonable to think that both the killing of potential pathogens and the role of ezymes may be involved (this is not an either or senario).

    I personally don’t like the use of “just so story” because to me it implies an unverifiable/unfalsifiable narrative (in theory or practically), which is not necessarily true in this case. We do know that pH does play a role in both of these senarios and there is no reason to think that there can’t be an answer. Superficially, I find the pathogen explanation more compelling since infectious disease via this route is a common way in which humans die even today (especially in impoverished areas of the world). I will have to look at the evidence when I have more free time.

  22. nybgruson 06 Oct 2011 at 8:01 pm

    @tmac57: The water, IMO, would be fairly neutral. It would have a very transient effect in diluting the hydrogen ions and raising pH, but that is about it.

    @ccbowers:

    I did not mean to say that you were making fanciful and erroneous claims. However, as I said above, unless you have evidence for one narrative over the other, it is indeed a “just so” story. That’s not to say it is wrong or bad to do – I was just using it as an example of how easy it is to do that and relate that to many of those med anthros and sCAMsters (like Moerman and the “Paleo diet” people).

    For me “just so” means that we don’t have the concrete evidence to back up the story – not that it is in principle unverifiable.

    For me, the protein degradation story is more compelling since we evolved from unicellular life, which incorporated prokaryotic cells (mitochondria, for example) into the cellular structure. Those unicellular organisms developed phagolysosomes long before multi-cellularity, so why would the pH lowering be useful in preventing microbial infection? It was useful for degrading food molecules at that point. As D2U pointed out, the pH of said phagolysosomes wasn’t as low as the stomach of humans. So perhaps that developed as an antimicrobial measure. But to me, the initial need for it and the evolution of corresponding proteolytic enzymes seems more likely to stem from degradation of food molecules.

    But that is my point – all these versions are, at least superficially, equivalent and reasonable. That is why it is a just-so story – all of them. And in fact, I would wager that many of the finer details are in fact unverifiable in principle since we are talking about stochastic evolutionary processes that developed billions of years ago.

    Please, don’t interpret me as trying to be offensive or in any way knocking you. I just have a bugaboo about evolutionary arguments and just wanted to point out an example of why is all :-D

    But if you do find evidence for one of those stories, I am happy to look at it and amend my view on it.

  23. ccbowerson 06 Oct 2011 at 9:42 pm

    @nybgrus

    I largely agree with your assessment re: gastric pH, but I disagree with your definition and use of “just so story.” If we broaden it to include anything for which we have insuffcient evidence, then what does the term add? In my mind it is a aesthetically pleasing narrative that has a component of being not verifiable at least in practice (or in principle). Otherwise a person is simply advocating a theory that turns out to be incorrect (or not), and I think this is a use that is way too broad. If people indeed take this broad interpretation, I would never use the phrase because it loses utility by losing what makes the term distinct from others.

  24. ccbowerson 06 Oct 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Actually I never do use the phrase for the reasons stated above. I prefer to be more specific with a criticism of a specific argument. You did this above by pointing out an alternative explanation that you thought was equally valid.

  25. nybgruson 06 Oct 2011 at 11:45 pm

    @ccbowers:

    That is a fair assessment. Perhaps I should re-think my usage of the term.

    My argument for using it in such a manner though is that such a proposition is not a theory – it is a hypothesis (I’m pretty sure you didn’t flub that intentionally, but I felt it pertinent to point out). The issue there is that people use such “just-so” stories, particularly anthropological/evolutionary, to justify a course of action. So whether the evidence backing it up could in principle be discovered or not is irrelevant to the claim. It is currently unsubstantiated, you are making assumptions and leaps of logic without evidence, and ultimately drawing inference and action based on that.

    I realize you were not actually doing that, but commenters around here and SBM like Geoff and jmcohen do. So I apologize for using you as a springboard to demonstrate the inherent invalidity of using such stories to make a claim – I’m certain I worded it poorly, but I hope I am more clear now. I just think it is important, especially around these parts, to be clear when something is a reasonable story versus an evidence based assertion that can be used to substantiate a claim.

    And once again, I apologize for an lack of clarity, especially currently. Suffice it to say that currently is not one of the best times for my brain to be working at full capacity for both professional and personal reasons. And my sincere apologies for any perceived slight against you.

  26. ccbowerson 07 Oct 2011 at 11:15 am

    nybgrus-

    No reason to apologize. Like many that frequent this site I enjoy the intellectual exercise, and no offense is taken. From reading the comments I have read from you on this site, I gather that we have little disagreement on most topics. I do like to engage in discussions with people I respect.

    The distinction I was making is that “just so” stories are not limited to evolution or anthropology, and it is important not to lump all scientific hypotheses or theories into this category. At one philophical extreme one could argue that all of science is a series of “just so” stories of varying quality. I do not subscribe to such a view (and I don’t believe that you do either), and thats why I went out of my way to narrow the definition.

    I took a few seconds to search any definitions for the phrase, and surprising found little, but wikipedia described it similarly to my interpretation. Not that that is in any way authoritative, but confirms that I am not too crazy (at least when it comes to this)

  27. Daniel Murphyon 07 Oct 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Did you notice that at the end of the article the author Sara Novak also repeats the discredited tale that drinking coffee “deplete[s] the body of water”? Other blog posts by Novak at the same site include “How Does Acupuncture Relieve Pain?” (answer: more ancient science) and “An Apple a Day Reduces Stroke Risk By 52 Percent” which rather overstates the result of a study reported 16 September, 2011 in Science Daily.

  28. Kawarthajonon 07 Oct 2011 at 1:22 pm

    tmac57on 06 Oct 2011 at 2:03 pm
    “I have a long standing acid reflux problem and cannot wean myself from PPI’s. I do drink a fair amount of water daily.Would that theoretically be better,worse,or neutral regarding acid production?”

    tmac, I also have acid reflux and it is very painful. I, like Sara Novak suggests, do not drink during meals because of this. It is not for the reasons that Sara suggests, however. My understanding is that one of the ways that you can reduce the burning sensation (other than meds and controlling the types of foods you eat) is to reduce the volume of stuff you eat/drink at any one sitting. I think that being full puts pressure on the stomach and makes things back up in a nasty way. Not drinking during meals seems to help me, although it does not take away the need for meds completely. You should try it and see if it works for you. I eat and drink separately and try to eat smaller meals several times per day, which helps to keep the volume of stuff I consume down. My understanding is that you would have to drink a large volume of water in order to reduce the acidity of your stomach even a little bit, which might actually make your acid reflux worse.

    Of course, Thanksgiving is this weekend and I will probably eat tons of turkey and drink lots of beer, in violation of this rule, but I have medication to fall back on.

  29. tmac57on 07 Oct 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Nybgrus and Kawarthajon- Thanks for the replys.I may try breaking up my meals to see if that helps.That’s one tactic that I have never tried,although I don’t usually eat a lot at any one meal anyway.I guess I could try cutting out or down on liquids during eating too just to see if there is some effect. I do like drinking water throughout the day because it is soothing to my throat.Maybe I over do it at times.

  30. nybgruson 07 Oct 2011 at 7:56 pm

    @ccbowers:

    Agreed. I think that is a fair distinction to make. I will bear that in mind for the future. And thank you for the compliment – I can say the same about you and a few others here :-)

    @tmac57:

    What Kawarthajon says certainly makes sense to me. The other option I can think of that may help out, in case abstaining from drink during a meal proves difficult, would be to drink a glass or two about 15 minutes prior to a meal. By the time you start eating, most of the liquid will have gone from your stomach and will have hopefully slaked your thirst making it easier during the meal. I would also say that in order to ensure the benefits of this idea, you should refrain from drinking anything until 30ish minutes after the meal, otherwise you’d obviously defeat the purpose. Meals high in fat/protein will require longer for your stomach to empty, so keep that in mind as well.

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