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Heidi

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Mom, desperately trying to get the health thing right! I started this blog so that I can pass along all the great things that I learn everyday on damage control for our wonderful bodies. It is tough to keep up sometimes with all the things going on in our daily lives so hopefully some of the helpful hints that I provide can make your life easier and healthier. I welcome your comments and tips as well! I am a vegetarian, animal rights advocate and avid animal rescuer.
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2011-08-30

Food Comas! What Our Bodies Really Do After A Meal! Guest Blogger Today-Patricia Walling-

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Today I am excited to share with you a guest blogger! This is a fascinating article that dispels everything I thought about why we get so tired after eating a meal and the what are bodies are really doing after eating that turkey on Thanksgiving!! 


 Why do People Get Food Comas?


Have you ever just wanted to fall straight asleep after a large meal? Do your kids often curl up and fall asleep after meals? Often we call this happenstance a food coma, but the scientific term used in medical coding for it is actually post-prandial somnolence, which pretty much just means “after-meal sleepiness.” Typically, a food coma can send people who have just eaten into a drowsy state that can last from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. People used to think that blood from the brain was sent to the stomach for digestion after eating, and that this decreased blood flow from the brain was the reason for sleepiness after a meal. However, it has been proven that this does not happen at all, and that blood is diverted from muscle tissue to the stomach during digestion. Additionally, the brain is provided with adequate amounts of oxygen and blood flow in a regular fashion during digestion.

What is actually going on basically that in order to produce energy from food, some energy must be expended in order to break that food down in our digestive system. There are two specific things about this process that produces a food coma. First, the nervous system responding to digestion in the stomach will use up some energy in order to try and battle off any incoming germs or bacteria. Secondly, and this is the biggest factor in a food coma, the central nervous system will use energy break down sugars entering the blood, which is why there can be such an intense crash after a sugar high because of the amount of energy spent processing that much sugar. As food arrives in the stomach, the nervous system begins to kick in and activates the breakdown of the foods into usable energy. After eating, the body feels it has achieved its goal of attaining food and no longer must be on point to capture another meal, so some recharging is alright.

Eating foods that are higher up on the glycemic index, i.e. take less time to release sugars into your bloodstream, will cause glucose (sugar) to be metabolized quickly from the intestines into the bloodstream. To keep glucose levels stable, the pancreas delivers insulin to the bloodstream, which is what your body uses to break down sugars into energy. Insulin tells the body to absorb sugars, but it causes the body to stop processing an amino acid called tryptophan. You may have heard about tryptophan as being the reason why everyone falls asleep after large turkey dinners, but it turns out this compound is about as equally present in other meats like beef and chicken too. In any case, since tryptophan levels in the body usually stay pretty constant, the body will have an overabundance of it when insulin is delivered. This causes the brain to convert tryptophan into serotonin, which makes for that feeling of contentment you have after a good meal. Then in turn, serotonin can be converted into melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you sleepy.

If you want to avoid getting food comas, say if you need to do some work after a meal or something, you can try eating more foods that are lower on the glycemic index like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Eating smaller portions can also help prevent food comas as it will allow the stomach to more easily process it into usable energy. You can also alleviate food comas by doing physical activities after eating such as jogging, walking, yoga, or Pilates. These exercises can help move glucose into your muscle without the associated feelings of drowsiness.

About my guest blogger:

Patricia Walling is a web content designer in Washington state for

several websites regarding the field of medicine and careers in health
care. A self professed perpetual student, she finds herself drawn to
researching even the most esoteric information she comes across that
she doesn't already know something about. She likes travel, cats,
dogs, and children, and above all is interested in healthcare, its
history, and its future.

9 comments:

betchai said...
that's what I thought too that we get sleepy after eating because blood from the brain rushes to the stomach :( so glad to learn the real thing behind sleepiness after a meal.
I would definitely say that it's a blood sugar issue. If you are eating foods that are difficult on your body, meaning your body has trouble digesting something either because it's unhealthy or just something your body has an aversion or intolerance to, then you'll go into a food coma. Also, eating too much at once will do it. For instance, my mom can't eat pasta. It always makes her sleepy afterward.
linda said...
Indeed!I need to do some work after a meal Because i am looking fat. i like to eat pasta.
Chris said...
just more reasons to cut out sugar, as hard as it is to do. I have my times when I'm very determined, and then I have lapses and end up feeling terrible with aches and pains. Great article.
Kloggers/Polly said...
Hello Heidi .. One of the most interesting things that I have ever heard was an Italian Chef talking about turkey (you mentioned - Thanksgiving). He said that he would never consider eating turkey and and something like that it was the only foul bird that is not suitable for food. Turkeys are not suitable for cats or dogs and can make them very ill - their bodies cannot cope with turkey meat it is like a poison to them.
So perhaps we all need to avoid turkey!
EastCoastLife said...
I skip my lunches if I have work to complete by evening time. That was to prevent a food coma. Thanks to your article, I know how to overcome a food coma now.
Hi

great information in this post and I think there are two specific things about this process that produces a food coma.
nice one, i usually use fresh vegetables and fruits in my diet to keep up with my physical health and inner strength. Plus yoga is the best exercise to keep up with the physical and mental health. so you would surely feel a very positive change if you start using vegetables and Yoga exercise.

~Emily
Celine said...
Hi Heidi,

Excellent article once more, I have spent the day on your blog, and it is a real gem for me!

Thanks!!!!

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