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No, drinking water on empty stomach after waking up won’t treat or prevent asthma or heart disease

A Facebook video viewed more than 4.5 million times gives several “natural” health tips, each starting with “Did you know?” 

One is that staying hydrated by drinking water on an empty stomach immediately after waking up in the morning prevents and treats asthma and “heart issues”.

Africa Check has previously debunked other claims in the video: that mullein leaf clears tar, mucus and phlegm from the lungs, and that putting a clove of garlic in the ear relieves ear infection and headache. We’ve also debunked the claim that drinking water “at the correct time” has health benefits.  

But will drinking water first thing in the morning prevent and treat asthma and heart disease? We checked.


Does drinking water treat and prevent asthma?

Asthma is a lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. Common symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing. 

Prof Keertan Dheda, director of the Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity and head of the University of Cape Town’s pulmonology division, said there was “no truth in this story whatsoever”. 

Steps can be taken to avoid asthma attacks, but the disease itself can’t be prevented, according to Mayo Clinic. “It isn't clear why some people get asthma and others don't, but it's probably due to a combination of environmental and inherited (genetic) factors.” 

Asthma is treated with an inhaler that lets you breathe in medicine to prevent or relieve symptoms, or with tablets. 

What about heart disease?

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, refers to conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease or aortic diseases.

A 2021 study in the European Heart Journal by researchers from the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found keeping the body properly hydrated might reduce the risk of heart failure and slow the decline of cardiac functioning. 

But we found no evidence to support the claim that drinking water on an empty stomach after waking up in the morning can treat or prevent heart disease. 

“This is not evidence-based medicine,” Dr Nqoba Tsabedze, academic and clinical head of the University of the Witwatersrand’s cardiology division, told us. 

Rather, the risk of heart disease could be reduced, Tsabedze said, by regular exercise and sleep, avoiding animal fats and processed food, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, lowering salt intake, not smoking, and stress management.

Depending on the heart disease, treatment includes diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, medication, medical procedures or surgery.

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