Summer months are full of myths we’ve always heard and -even though we don’t know where they come from-they seem to be difficult for us to let go of. Who are we to tell a parent otherwise, who wants to ensure their child doesn’t get cramps if he goes into the water within an hour after eating? What do we know? But we are ready to take apart this and other summer myths. Let’s start…
You stop digestion if you go into the water after eating
Digestion is not affected in any way by the water, just don’t take a vigorous swim. What actually happens is that, during the digestive process, the blood flows to and concentrates in the belly. When the temperature changes when we come into contact with the water, the brain tells the blood to spread along the surface of the skin and to go to the muscles to counteract the sudden cold. And this is what could cause you to feel sick, not an interruption to the actual digestive process.
What is true is that taking a dip after eating and getting the back of the neck and wrists wet is good for slowly balancing out our body temperature.
Siesta or stroll
Taking a walk after a filling meal will not help you digest food and, indeed, can actually be detrimental. In order for digestion to happen correctly, it is important that we don’t do much exercise, since this can cause dizziness or fainting.
But beware, we aren’t saying that you should stretch out on the couch. Taking a walk (always in the shade, especially during the hottest hours of the day) is always good, even though it doesn’t help us assimilate our food better.
And even though all our body wants after eating is a little nap, it is not the best option. In any case, our naps should never be longer than 10 minutes if we don’t want to wake up in a bad mood. And we shouldn’t stretch out flat, as this does make it difficult for our body to digest food, increasing the acid reflux in our stomach.
That is why they recommend having dinner at least two hours before going to sleep. Late in the day, our bodies are tired and digestive capacity is reduced, which is why we have to help it along.
Ice-cream, coffee, liqueur or herbal tea
They’ve always told us that a liqueur after a copious meal helps to assimilate food, but nutritional experts confirm that alcohol and the sugars it contains do more damage than good to the stomach. But let them try to take away our after-dinner digestif 😉
What does help digestion are herbal teas, especially those that contain mint or licorice, and coffee. But although caffeine can stimulate food metabolism, it is not scientifically proven to aid with digestion. Two cups a day will be enough, especially if we have problems with acid reflux, and it’s best to skip milk or other dairy products, because it will slow down the process.
Fruit, lettuce and milk at night
We are used to eating fruit after a meal, but nutritionists always advise us to eat it before. This is because the sugars and water in fruits can slow down digestion, although it is not bad for us. The stodgiest foods, and thus to avoid in the evening, are bananas, avocados and custard apples, due to their high calorie content.
Eating salads at dinner is another common–and controversial–custom, as we are told that lettuce and cucumber hinder the digestive process. But the truth is that it depends on the tolerance of each body’s digestive enzymes.
And the famous glass of milk that helps us to sleep better? It really could help, due to being rich in tryptophan (which helps us get to sleep). However, it can also slow down digestion, like other dairy products.
As you can see, many of these myths can be squelched and we could sum it up with: “if it hurts you, don’t do it.” The digestive process depends on each person’s assimilation capacity and, therefore, what slows down the process for one person may not affect another. We need to find what feels right for us, identify what helps us and take the consequent actions.