Maybe you’re enjoying a much healthier diet and better habits these days as part of the Solluna lifestyle — that’s great! But you could still be hindering your digestion in ways you’re not aware of. Improper digestion can lead to discomfort, bloating, weight gain, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and heartburn. Often, it’s not what we eat, but what we do right after, that negatively affects your digestion. Let’s explore them so you can make the appropriate changes to your habits and feel good after every meal.
What NOT To Do For An Hour After You Eat
Lying Down & Sleeping
It may feel good to lie down after eating a filling meal or take the odd post-lunch nap on a lazy weekend. But if you want to keep your digestive system chugging along at top speed without any complications, avoid sleeping or even lying down immediately after meals.
Lying down after eating increases your chances of your digestive juices creeping back up into your esophagus causing heartburn. When you stay awake and upright, the digestive juices are more likely to stay where they need to be and efficiently break down your food.
This fact also affects how much and when you should be eating. Sleeping causes your digestive system to slow down, so having a heavy meal right before bed could cause you to feel bloated, uncomfortable, and full even the next morning. While you should eat light to heavy throughout the day and dinner should be your heaviest meal, giving yourself some time to remain awake and upright before slipping between the sheets promotes optimal digestion. A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people who eat close to bedtime were likely to develop acid reflux symptoms that cause heartburn and indigestion. (1)
Learn more about the connection between sleep and your gut.
Exercise is one of the keys to feeling good and staying healthy, but you should avoid it right after meals. It may be tempting to do so if you’re not stuffed, but strenuous exercise can use up some of the resources your body needs to digest your food. The easiest answer to why you shouldn’t work out right after you eat: you can make yourself sick. When you engage in exercise after eating, you could experience nausea, cramps, or even diarrhea.
When you attempt to work out after a meal, your blood starts to circulate in a way that gets blood—and oxygen—to all those hard-working muscles. That means blood flow to your stomach is drastically reduced and food can’t be properly digested. It just sits there, waiting for you to slow down again so your body can finish the job.
Think of what might happen if you tried to paint a picture and read a book at the same time. That level of multi-tasking is nearly impossible, and if nothing else, it’ll be a long, slow process. It’s best to do one thing and then move on to the next. Eat, digest, and then exercise. You can also exercise before eating.
A study conducted in Japan found that subjects who ate a meal immediately before high-intensity exercise experienced greater levels of nausea than those who didn’t eat. (2) Even though you’re waiting an hour to work out after eating, remember to fuel your body with the appropriate foods before and after you exercise.
We’ve recommended this before, but it bears repeating: don’t eat fruit after a meal. Experts say that eating fruit after meals tend to cause digestive distress. (3) Fruit digests the fastest of any type of food, and when you toss it down shortly after a meal, it just sits on top of it and ferments there, creating gas, discomfort, and possibly even weight gain. When you eat fruit alone and a couple of hours before anything else (or two to three hours after your last meal), your body can digest it and utilize it for fuel without the gas, bloating, and other discomforts.
Drinking Too Much Water
It’s fine to sip a little water with your meals if you feel it’s necessary, but don’t gulp down a big glass of it during or right after your meals or you may dilute the digestive juices so much, it makes it harder for them to do their job.
Also, steer clear of ice water. It can be refreshing on a hot day, but when you’re drinking even a little water with your meals, the ice could cool the digestive fire and do more damage to the digestive process than hot, warm, or room temperature water would. Hot herbal tea is another alternative if you feel like you want to drink something with your meal, but you should still limit your intake of liquids while you eat.
This Thrive article explains the ice water vs. warm water topic in more detail and provides additional self-care tips for city-dwellers. One study found that digestion was impaired in participants who drank cold liquids with their meals. (4)
Taking a Shower or Bath
This is one that may really disrupt your routine, but once you make the change, you may find that you feel much better all day. If you frequently eat breakfast and then take a shower, or you eat dinner and take your shower to wind down after your day, your digestive health may be suffering. Ayurvedic medicine teaches that bathing, which interferes with body temperature, right after a meal weakens digestion, leading to digestive distress. (5)
Here’s why: When you step into the shower, your body temperature increases, and the blood is pulled toward the surface of the skin, the hands, and the feet. It’s pulled everywhere it doesn’t need to be for digestion, like the stomach area, in order to regulate your core temperature. Instead of your body jumping on the task of digesting the meal you just ate and doing it efficiently, it suddenly becomes distracting. The warmth encourages your body to regulate its temperature by allowing blood to flow away from the vital organs, and digestion is slowed down.
Maximize Your Digestion
Once you’ve changed your habits and you’re not hindering your digestive health anymore, you can do some more things to help boost your digestion and feel even better.
- Eat a salad or raw celery sticks before each cooked meal to add enzymes that will assist in breaking down your food. Try one of my simple and delicious salad recipes!
- Take digestive enzymes with your cooked meals or food pairings that you know are not ideal.
TRY SOLLUNA’S FEEL GOOD DIGESTIVE ENZYMES to reduce gas & bloating while also absorbing more nutrients!
- Try to avoid drinking a lot of water right before your meals.
- Avoid stressful topics while eating or right after eating — stress can disrupt digestion.
- Incorporate plant-based prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics to balance your digestive flora and improve your gut health.
TAKE A LOOK AT SOLLUNA’S FEEL GOOD SBO + PROBIOTICS and start feeling good!
- Reference: The American Journal of Gastroenterology 100, 2633-2636 (December 2005) | doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.00354.x Study can be found here.
- Reference: Kondo, T (2001). Exercise-Induced Nausea is Exaggerated by Eating. Appetite, 36(2), 119-125. Study from the Appetite journal here.
- Reference: NDTV Food (2018, July 24) Eating Fruits Right After Lunch? You Should Read This [Web log post]. Retrieved (10/11/19), from here.
- Reference: Sun WM, Houghton LA, Read NW, Grundy DG, Johnson AG (1988). Effect of Meal Temperature on Gastric Empying of Liquids in Man. Gut, 29(3), 302-5. Study here.
- Reference: (2019, Sept 18). The Real Reason Why You Should Never Take a Bath After Eating. India Times. Retrieved from here.
Water Consumption: I find it hard not to drink with meals- food seems to naturally make me thirsty, even salad. And if one is not to drink with meals or a lot before/after a meal, when is the ideal time to get your needed water intake?
I’ve read that you shouldn’t drink whater thirty minutes before you eat and wait an hour after you eat to drink liquids!
Exactly… It’s like darn if you do, darn if you don’t. I’m not trying to be negative, especially knowing that the intent of the article is meant to be positive and it is positive; But, I have been really mindful of drinking lots of water, eating better, etc and I feel like my efforts are useless after reading it and other articles like it…
Can you please provide the articles and or sources which you are concluding this information from.
Kim Snyder is an expert in digestion. Try anything she says and you will see for yourself that it works.
Courtney you should buy her book, it lists all of the sources and studies that support her info in the index.
Same thoughts. You are not supposed to drink water before, during and after meals. Then when do you drink water???
Just because Kimberly wrote something in her book does not mean there should *not* be extra sources used by her staff to verify article content.
The quality of these newsletters has suffered. I am more interested in research conducted about health, not “Why You Do Not Need a Boyfriend”. If I wanted to read an article such as this, I would be on Cosmopolitan’s website. I will be unsubscribing soon.
I don’t understand why fruit would not be digested when eating with other foods in your stomach. Since raw fruit already contains all of the enzymes needed to break itself down, and it’s been thoroughly chewed so the enzymes are released, why would it rot instead of breaking down?
To answer the question of when to drink water. You wasn’t to drink up to 15 min before a meal and ideally 1 hour after a meal. KS mentions it in her first book/several blog posts and if you want other sources Natalia Rose, Anne Wigmore, etc. I’ve found, over time, that it gets easier and easier to have water this way and I actually don’t get thirsty until about an hour after a meal. Also, it’s fine to have a sip or two of water during a meal but try to keep it at a minimum.
Hope this helps.
Oh! I was wrong. My mom has been telling me to always take a bath before breakfast. Since I was stubborn to just follow her, I asked for a valid reason but she had none to offer so I just continued with my daily habit. Definitely, mother knows best even when they don’t have a proper explanation for it, it’s just their motherly instincts working. Sorry mom.
These are all right on the money. I’ve been going swimming after eating heavy meals, and not only has it made my indigestion worse but made it harder for me to lose weight. Been switching to exercises first before a meal and the results have been great! Very useful and life-changing article.
Hi Kimberly I have been a vegetarian for the last 9 years and I don’t eat dairy on a regular basis, only once per month when we have a pizza night. I love your book “The Beauty Detox Foods” and I love your recipes and tips. My question is why do I get bloated after meals even worse when I eat raw meals and drink smoothies? I am taking the digestive enzymes and drinking apple cider vinegar before meals.
Hi Eliane, it’s hard for me to comment as to what’s happening in your body, but I do know some people have trouble with so much fiber, especially in raw form that’s not broken down by cooking. One option is to avoid the tougher veggies (like cabbage, kale, etc) — and just eat lighter lettuces, fruit, avocados, etc in raw form. Then, lightly cook the tougher, more fibrous veggies and see if that helps!
Excellent writing. It’s great that you focused on the digestive system as a whole and the vital blood supply needed to do its job.
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Thank you,very much!exactly what I needed to know,was not properly absorbing protein,now I help my body by drinking and not drinking water more intelligently,Be BLESSED!
Thanks so much Lenny and lots of love and support back to you! 😉
Try different things.
I used to swallow big amounts of water when taking supplements after a meal, so I changed that to taking just the water I needed to swallow them 15 or 20 minutes AFTER eating.
Made all the difference in the world, no one gave me that advice I just thought to myself “what’s the best way around this problem?” and I just tried something rather than nothing.