"Don’t walk after meals, don’t even think about smoking after eating and there will be no more cups of tea after dinner!"
This is what you hear your wife/husband/friend/mother say after reading the famously circulated mail about 7 things not to do after meals. We investigate each of them to find whether it is fact or fiction.
Things not to do after meals
Smoking after meals
Fiction, though it is bad for you!
Not only after meals but smoking’s bad even in the mornings and afternoons; before meals, in the office and after work. In short, smoking is bad for you! A cigarette contains as many as 60 carcinogens (elements that cause cancer) along with other sickening ingredients like nicotine, tar etc. Along with emphysema (a lung disease that causes shortness of breath) and cancer there are other risks involved with smoking but there is no direct evidence to ascertain the effect of ‘after-meals- smoking’ on your health.
However, smoking is known to worsen symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS as well as ulcerative colitis (a stomach ulcer). Smoking also has a bad effect on muscles of the colon.
Eating fruits immediately after meals
Fact, it is bad for you!
Eating fruits is recommended by almost everyone. But among all those who tell you to eat fruits, few speak about the right time to eat them. Fruits actually are the easiest to digest; they contain simple sugars. Most fruits except bananas and dates pass through the stomach into the intestine within 20 minutes of eating. It is in the intestines that they are broken down.
When you eat your fruits with meals, the fruit is stuck in the stomach along with the contents of the meals and cannot reach the intestines in time. Lying there they get spoilt and spoil the remaining food in the stomach too. Thus it is recommended that you eat a fruit not sooner than one hour after eating a meal or before your meal and preferably in the morning on an empty stomach. It is in the morning that the body can best use the nutrients in the fruit and get the energy to start the day.
Drinking Tea after meals
Drinking moderate quantities of tea and coffee has its benefits ranging from reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease to putting off diabetes and providing anti-oxidants that will help your body fight aging. However, drinking tea and coffee after meals is not recommended by most nutritionists.
It is said that tea contains polyphenols and tannins that internally bind the iron in the plant foods. This makes it difficult for us to absorb iron. So drinking tea is bad especially for children and women who require iron and are generally iron deficient. It is preferable to drink tea only post at least an hour after meals.
Bathing after meals
Probably a Fact. Mostly is bad for you!
Digestion requires lot of energy thus requires good flow of blood towards this end to the stomach. When we take a warm shower, it raises our body temperature and in order to cool the body there is more blood flow near the skin to allow the heat to be released. Thus the blood required by the stomach is not being available to it and the process of digestion suffers. So it is advisable to wait 30 minutes post any meals to go for bathing.
Loosening the belt after meals
Fiction, not particularly bad for you!
We generally have an attitude that a good meal is that which forces us to loosen our belts. However, loosening the belt is bad, not because it causes the intestines to twist or block but because it means that you have over eaten to a level that you are uncomfortable with the belt becoming a noose. Loosening of the belt may also cause you to feel comfortable once again which means you may continue overeating.
Loosening your belt is basically relaxing your abdominal muscles which means having a bulging belly in the long run. Instead if you tuck in your stomach, you contract your abdominal muscles and are training them to be taut and firm. So eat only to the extent that you can be comfortable without loosening your belt!
Walking immediately after meals
Fact, it is bad for you!
Walking immediately after meals is a bad idea, it can result in acid reflux and indigestion. However, walking about half an hour after meals is known to be good for you. Researchers in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina have found that walking post some rest after meals is a good way to burn energy.
The point to note is when to walk, you should ideally walk for about 10 minutes and only 20-30 minutes after meal to prevent acid reflux and stomach upsets.
A good leisurely walk after meals helps set the metabolism to a good level, gives your muscles a stretch and is a better option than promoting fat deposition by lying on the sofa watching TV. Mayo Sleep Clinic even states that walking post some rest after meals help you sleep faster and deeper.
Sleeping after meals
Fact, it is bad for you!
Sleeping directly after eating is bad for you because as you lie down, some amount of digestive juices from the stomach flow back to the food pipe due to the gravitational force and due to its acidic nature, burn the inner layer of the food pipe. Thus people have a burning sensation in the mouth and throat post lying down directly after a meal. Another reason to avoid sleeping directly after meals is that, when we sleep directly after we eat, there is excessive pressure put on the diaphragm because of the food that is still in the stomach this causes snoring and even sleep apnea (momentary suspension of breathing that may disrupt our sleep routine). Sleeping directly after meals also has a link with obesity so sleep only after 2 hours post your meals.
So after meals do what you love- sit around with your family and have conversations…this will definitely be good for health!