Eating a healthy diet is vital for proper nutrition and good health. However, for you to achieve your ultimate health and fitness goals, you can’t stop there. Aside from adding on the right exercise to your lifestyle, your after-meal habits can help you maintain a lifelong, good overall wellbeing.
People usually have a tendency to feel drowsy or the need to relax after a full meal. Moreover, each of us has our own little thing we routinely do after eating that we might think are beneficial, as it makes us more comfortable. Little do we know; these post-meal habits may be doing us more harm than good. (See Related: Practical Tips to Start Getting Healthy)
Avoid misconceptions and reevaluate your after-meal regimen. Below are practices that you should not do immediately after eating a full meal.
1. Drinking cold water
When you drink cold water after a meal, it causes your stomach to contract. As a result, it makes it harder for your digestive system to break down the food you have taken in.
Moreover, cold water solidifies the unwanted fats contained in your food intake. And you should eliminate the bad fats from your body, as it increases the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, cold water can trigger migraines to those who have already experienced the condition.
Drinking cold water may also cause a sore throat and thicken nasal mucus, which may give you a stuffy nose.
2. Having tea or coffee
Drinking tea or coffee after a meal declines your body’s ability to absorb essential minerals, particularly iron. Decreased iron absorption may cause anemia, dizziness, and poor appetite.
It is best to try waiting for at least 1 to 2 hours after finishing a meal before indulging in a cup of tea or coffee.
Moreover, tea contains polyphenols, which inhibit starch digestive enzymes in the digestive tract and may affect protein digestion in the blood. The improper digestion of protein makes the blood stickier and reduces the good circulation in the bloodstream. As an effect, it may result in blood clots, cardiovascular diseases, headaches, and lethargy.
3. Smoking cigarettes
Smoking after a meal prevents your body from absorbing nutrients from the food you eat. According to studies, if you smoke one cigarette right after a meal, it is as dangerous as smoking ten cigarettes altogether.
Why? The digestive system tends to be the most active right after a meal. Therefore, the body’s absorption rate is high.
If you smoke a cigarette immediately after a full meal, your body will absorb the nicotine found in your cigarette in even much higher quantities. Nicotine makes your blood thicker and stickier, which may damage your blood vessels and block the blood flow to your heart. This, in turn, increases your risk of a stroke or heart attack.
4. Lying down
Whether you lie down just to relax or take a nap and sleep, enabling your body in a horizontal position after eating may produce harmful effects to your health. For one, the food you eat passes down through your digestive tract with the help of your digestive organs and the force of gravity. And by lying down, you are preventing the continuous downward motion, as the food is forced to proceed horizontally.
Hence, it may cause the reflux of digestive acids and give rise to chest discomfort, heartburn, and indigestion. Moreover, it may result in weight gain, as lying down after eating will not burn the calories you have consumed from your food.
It is recommended you allow at least 2 to 3 hours to elapse after you have finished a meal before you can lie down or go to bed.
Consuming a big meal may leave you with a sense of sluggishness. Thereby, decreasing your performance in running. Moreover, it may give you stomach cramps and digestive disorders. Also, a full stomach can make you feel uncomfortable and may trigger nausea and vomiting.
After a meal, your digestive system needs a huge amount of blood to aid in proper digestion. On the other hand, the muscles used in running also require ample blood flow to transport the oxygen and energy they need to work. In other words, when you do both activities at the same time, neither the digestive tract nor your muscles will be able to perform efficiently.
Thus, if you want to run after a meal, consider waiting for at least 4 to 5 hours to allow food to be fully digested first.
6. Taking a shower
Taking a shower or bath increases your body temperature. Consequently, when you take a bath after a meal, your blood flows through the different parts of the body instead of focusing on digestion. And the digestive tract requires maximum blood flow and a high amount of energy to be able to break down the food you just consumed.
In turn, the digestive system may not properly perform and may overwork to digest everything you have taken in. This may lead to stomach upset and bad gut health.
If you need a bath or shower, allow at least a 30 to 45-minute window after eating before you take one.
7. Brushing your teeth
Brushing your teeth immediately after a meal is okay as long as you are sure you have not eaten or drunk anything acidic. Otherwise, you will brush off not only the food particles but also the enamel from your teeth.
Highly acidic foods can weaken your tooth enamel. Dentists suggest you wait for at least a full 30 minutes after a meal before you brush your teeth. That way, your tooth enamel has already re-hardened and will not wear off in the brushing process.
Other than proper diet and exercise, post-meal patterns can also greatly affect your health and fitness. Some of the habits mentioned above will not harm you, provided that after finishing your meal, you must wait for a certain length of time before doing it.
Moderation and self-discipline are always the keys to a long and healthy life. (See Related: Eye Health: 4 Simple Eye Care Tips to Prevent Computer Vision Syndrome)