Monday, September 25, 2006

Tiring Meals

Why heavy meals tire people

Often, after a heavy meal, people have the tendancy to feel sleepy and tired. This has often been attributed to the blood in the body, especially the head, being drawn into the stomach to digest the food, hence making the body tired. This explaination, however, is incomplete.

The truth of the matter lies more with heat. As food is being consumed, it has to travel down the esophagus and various passages to reach the stomach. In the process, it has much contact, and thus friction, with the various passages. This friction creates a sizable amount of heat in the body.

Also, when food is being digested, the chemical reactions generate heat. Thus, consuming a meal actually generates a great deal of heat. This heat, combined with that of normal body functions, may exceed the body's capacity to remove heat, leading to the body's failure. Hence, when food is being consumed, the body's natural reaction is to lower the body's activity rate so as to reduce heat production. Thus, people may feel sleepy or tired when eating. This natural reaction is similar to a person with heatstroke fainting, as both involve slowing the body's activity rate to reduce heat production.

Thus, we should learn to eat in cooler places to avoid dozing off.

I wrote this article a few years ago for my (now defunct) website, under the section "Prevarications". I may post more articles of the same nature in the near future.

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JH said...

How abt getting a cold drink or nice dessert to cool the body down and avoid feeling sleepy? Heh.

Jackson Tan said...

How about adding non-digestible lubricant into our food?

The Negative Man said...

Maybe that is why we use cooking oil...

Jackson Tan said...

I did an experiment today. After lunch, I ate a bowl of ice kacang. Initially I was sleepy, but after the dessert I turned quite awake... for about ten minutes, before retreating into an even greater lethargy.

However, it may be just that the ice kacang is a refreshing finish to a nice meal in a hot day, and has absolutely nothing to do with the cooling of the body.

The Negative Man said...

I recommend, for the sake of "experimentation", that you try various cold and warm deserts. All in the name of (pseudo)science !