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DON'Ts after a meal: Myth or fact?

Last updated on: March 28, 2012 19:11 IST

DON'Ts after a meal: Myth or fact?

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Courtesy LifeMojo.com

What you do after a meal may interfere with the process of digestion and metabolism -- here's what you should know.

Many factors affect your health. Some you cannot control, such as your genetic make-up or your age. But you can make changes to your lifestyle. The reason lifestyle is so important is because how you live determines your choices and these choices decide how healthy you are. Habits are an important part of your lifestyle. As humans, we like habits and routine, so much so that we often keep repeating certain things even when we know they aren't good for us.

This brings us to our after-meal habits. Many of us indulge in habits that are not essentially healthy after consumption of food. Doing or eating certain things after meals will cause some reaction within your body, which may interfere with digestion. But most of us are not aware of which hold true and which are out-and-out myths.

Myths are obviously the fruit of partial or total ignorance and speculation, handed down from generation to generation. There are many floating around concerning what not to do after a meal. In the following pages, we explore the most prevalent beliefs and set the record straight.

LifeMojo is one of the most trusted sources of information about good health and wellness. To those who want to manage their health themselves, LifeMojo provides necessary information, tips, tracking tools and support to help them stay informed and motivated.


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Do not walk after a meal: Myth

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Walking or strolling after a meal is not bad at all. Rather, leisure walking after a meal helps in the digestion of the food, controlling weight and is excellent for people who are already facing problems of indigestion or flatulence.

But walking immediately after a meal will make it difficult for the digestive system to absorb the nutrition from the food we eat. So wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after your meal and then walk.


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Don't smoke after eating: Myth

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There is no evidence that smoking after a meal increases the risks already associated with the habit. Smoking cigarettes is harmful to your health at any time.

Cigarettes are one of the most lethal carcinogens (substances known to cause cancer) known to man. They are the single most common and preventable cause of cancer in society.


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Tea/coffee help with digestion after a meal: Myth

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Drinking tea or coffee after a meal can interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron (found in plants, as opposed to heme iron found in meats) consumed in the meal. This is because tanin (found in tea) forms a bond to the iron, effectively limiting the body's ability to absorb this important mineral.

It is recommended to limit your tea- and coffee-drinking to between meals or one hour after a meal.


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Don't go to sleep immediately after: Fact

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Immediately sleeping after eating a meal can lead to digestive problems, which in turn lead to gastro-intestinal trouble. This is because the BMR (basal metabolic rate) increases after eating and sleeping immediately would decrease it, interfering with digestion.

Habitually sleeping immediately after a meal will also increase the tendency towards obesity. Wait for at least two to three hours and then go to sleep.

Also, when you sleep, position yourself so that your head is placed at a slightly higher level than the body.


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A bath after a meal refreshes you: Myth

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Again, a bath would decrease the BMR, causing digestive problems, which can cause gastro-intestinal trouble in the long run.


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Avoid drinking cold water: Myth

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Many people believe in the myth that drinking cold water after eating can freeze the ingested food, especially those containing oils, which may lead to cancer.

The truth: the internal heat of your body quickly nullifies any temperature differences among the various items that you have swallowed before they reach the intestine.


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Eat fruits after a meal: Myth

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Some fruits are citric in nature and may cause further reactions on combining with the acids and complex compounds present in the food we eat, leading to stomach upsets or problems with digestion. Therefore have your fruits one or two hours before or after your meal. This will also avoid a spike in blood sugar levels.

Living a healthy lifestyle and learning to eat healthy is easier than you might think. It doesn't cost extra money and it doesn't require expensive equipment, so make a commitment and stick to it.


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LifeMojo is a wellness company, helping people to live a healthier life. LifeMojo provides online and on phone nutrition consultation services to help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.