As Ian Musgrave, a Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at the University of Adelaide, explains on Gizmodo, people think this is a big deal because previously, some doctors recommended only taking the drugs after a meal in order to protect your stomach. Painkillers are among drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which after chronic use can actually damage your stomach lining and even lead to ulcers and gastritis.
But Musgrave said it's really not something to worry about. "Overall, changing from taking NSAIDs like ibuprofen with food to just water -- unless there is stomach upset -- may improve pain relief and is very unlikely to harm people who take the drug occasionally and as directed," he said. "Those who use ibuprofen and other NSAIDs for chronic pain relief, however, should consult their doctor about how best to take it."