In a mission to find out what really happens to your digestion when you lie down after eating and how to best avoid the symptoms that may result from it, I contacted Peyton Berookim, MD, MA, FACG, AGAF, a double-certified gastroenterologist at the Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California.
What happens to your digestive system when you lie down after eating?
If you can relate and also like to go straight out after dinner (or any meal – I see you, fam), Dr. Berookim says that while it’s nothing to lose your sleep, there are a few things you need to know about digestive function may be affected. “When you lie down after eating, there is a chance that the food you just ate – which has passed through your esophagus and into your stomach – will make its way back, now with some of the stomach acids, and up to your throat, “says Dr. Berookim. In other words, your digestive system is like Missy Elliott around 2002, reversing and reversing the natural flow of breakdown in your food. When this happens, you may experience symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.
“This could present as a burning sensation in your chest and throat, a sour taste in your mouth or as a belching,” Dr. Berookim continues. He adds that reflux has the potential to irritate your airway and lead to a cough, which may even mimic some mild asthma symptoms.
In addition, a study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism mentioned additional benefits of sitting upright while eating as opposed to reclining. After studying the effects of protein ingestion in both postures, the researchers concluded that feeding in an upright position as opposed to a supine position “accelerates gastric emptying and increases the postprandial increase in plasma amino acid availability by increasing and amino acid absorption. percentages.” Simply put, this means that you can promote optimal digestive function and Absorption of nutrients if you eat protein-rich foods while sitting upright against reclining. (Not to mention reducing the risk of developing the heartburn and reflux symptoms mentioned above if you stay upright after that meal.)
Is it ever recommended to lie down after eating?
Many people tend to lie down after eating, especially after a big, hearty meal (* decide my craving for Thanksgiving *). But as comfortable as it is at first to feel to undo one or two buttons, put your feet back and lean on your back, is this ever better for digestion?
“There are no real types of conditions or scenarios in which we recommend lying down after eating,” says Dr. Berookim. “It just goes against the natural direction of gravity that promotes healthy digestion.” In addition, he states that people with certain medical conditions should be especially careful to stay upright after their meals. “People who have underlying gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or conditions such as septal hernia should definitely not lie down after eating,” says Dr. Berookim, as this is likely to worsen the discomfort.
TL; DR: Dr. Berookim confirms that, as a general rule, it is always best to sit up after eating. (The exception, as he told us before, applies to people who have heartburn and reflux can actually benefit from standing while eating, as it can help minimize stomach pressure that causes unwanted symptoms.)
How long should you ideally wait to lie down after eating
Whether you’re on the beach and want to lie down on your towel after a fresh lunch or at home ready to curl up to watch the latest Netflix release after a late meal, Dr. Berookim recommends specific time frames to wait before you do.
“It is usually advisable to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before lying down completely,” he says. However, if you are resting in a corner, semi-upright position and / or have a few pillows to stack, you do not need to watch the clock so diligently. “If you are just going to lie on the couch but with your head held higher, then it is usually okay to do it shortly after eating,” he explains.
However, when it comes to catching your ZZZ after dinner, the ideal time is a little longer. “Generally, we recommend eating early enough to leave two hours after dinner to go to bed,” continues Dr. Berookim. And if you happen to encounter GERD, a study published in American Journal of Gastroenterology found better results by waiting at least three hours – and even more significant benefits if left for four hours.
The bottom line; Lying down immediately after a meal can cause digestive problems – especially for those who are already struggling with conditions such as heartburn and reflux. However, you do not have to stay * completely * upright, be rigid as a plank, or completely rule out post-meal relaxation. While Dr. Berookim reiterates that it is not ideal to lie down immediately after eating, “if you want to lie down, aim to do it at an altitude of 45 degrees,” he advises. Also, if the symptoms described above occur even if you change your post-meal relaxation routine, Dr. Berookim says cutting down on fizzy drinks can also help.
Oh Hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on modern wellness brands and exclusive Well + Good content. Join Well +, our online wellness community and unlock your rewards right away.