On a mission to uncover what actually occurs to your digestion once you lie down after consuming and the way to greatest keep away from the signs that may come up from doing so, I reached out to Peyton Berookim, MD, MA, FACG, AGAF, a double board-certified gastroenterologist on the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California.
What occurs in your digestive system once you lie down after consuming?
When you can relate and in addition love going straight to sprawling out after dinner (or any meal—I see you, fam), Dr. Berookim says that whereas it is nothing to lose sleep over, there are some things you need to find out about how your digestive perform could also be affected. “Whenever you lie down after consuming, there’s a chance that the meals you simply ingested—which has made its means by way of your esophagus and to the doorway of your abdomen—will make its means backwards, now with among the acids of the abdomen, and up into your throat,” Dr. Berookim says. In different phrases, your digestive system makes like Missy Elliott circa 2002, flipping and reversing the pure circulation of breaking down your meals. When this occurs, chances are you’ll expertise signs of heartburn and acid reflux disease.
“This might current as a burning sensation in your chest and throat, a bitter style in your mouth, or belching,” Dr. Berookim continues. He provides that reflux has the potential to annoy your airway and end in a cough, which can even mimic some slight bronchial asthma signs.
Furthermore, a examine printed within the journal Utilized Physiology, Diet, and Metabolism reported extra advantages of sitting upright whereas consuming versus reclining. After the researchers studied the results of protein ingestion in each positions, they concluded that feeding in an upright physique place versus a mendacity place “accelerates gastric emptying and will increase the postprandial rise in plasma amino acid availability by growing protein digestion and amino acid absorption charges.” In easy phrases, this implies you can promote optimum digestive perform and nutrient absorption if you happen to eat protein-rich meals whereas seated upright versus reclining. (To not point out scale back your threat of experiencing the heartburn and reflux signs cited above if you happen to stay upright following mentioned meal.)
Is it ever advisable to recline after consuming?
Many individuals are likely to lie down after consuming, particularly following an enormous, hearty meal (*cue my cravings for Thanksgiving meals*). However as comfy as it could initially really feel to undo a button or two, put your ft again, and relaxation in your again, is that this ever preferable for digestion?
“There aren’t actually any forms of situations or eventualities wherein we suggest reclining after consuming,” Dr. Berookim says. “It simply goes towards the pure route of gravity that promotes wholesome digestion.” As well as, he mentions that folks with sure medical situations ought to take specific care to stay upright following their meals. “Individuals who have underlying gastroesophageal reflux illness (GERD) or situations akin to hiatal hernia ought to undoubtedly not lay supine after consuming,” Dr. Berookim says, as doing so is more likely to exacerbate discomfort.
TL; DR: Dr. Berookim confirms that, as a common rule, it’s all the time greatest to sit down upright after consuming. (The exception, as he beforehand informed us, applies to individuals who expertise heartburn and reflux may very well profit from standing whereas consuming since it may possibly assist reduce the abdomen stress that produces undesirable signs.)
How lengthy you need to ideally wait to lie down after consuming
Whether or not you’re on the seaside and wish to lay again in your towel after a recent lunch, or at residence and able to curl as much as binge watch the most recent launch on Netflix following a late meal, Dr. Berookim recommends sure time frames to attend earlier than doing so.
“It’s often really helpful to attend at the least half-hour after consuming earlier than reclining totally,” he says. Nevertheless, if you happen to relaxation in an angled, semi-upright place and/or have some pillows to stack up, you don’t have to look at the clock as diligently. “When you’re simply going to put on the sofa however with a better elevation of your head, then it’s often okay to take action shortly after consuming,” he clarifies.
But relating to catching your ZZZ’s after dinner, the perfect time-frame is a bit longer. “Basically, we suggest consuming early sufficient so that you simply go away two hours after dinner to go to mattress,” Dr. Berookim continues. And if you happen to do occur to battle with GERD, one examine printed within the American Journal of Gastroenterology discovered higher outcomes by ready at the least three hours—and much more important advantages by holding out for 4 hours.
The underside line? Mendacity down straight after a meal has the potential to set off digestive misery—significantly for many who already battle with situations akin to heartburn and reflux. Nevertheless, you don’t essentially have to remain *utterly* upright, be stiff as a board, or rule out post-meal stress-free utterly. Whereas Dr. Berookim reiterates that it isn’t superb to be supine straight after consuming, “if you wish to recline, goal to take action at a 45-degree elevation,” he advises. Additionally, if the signs outlined above manifest even if you happen to do swap up your post-meal rest routine, Dr. Berookim says that chopping again on carbonated drinks may additionally assist.
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