Do you feel sleepy after having a large meal? Most of you would answer 'yes'. After having a filling and tasty meal, a person is said to go into a food coma. In medical terms, it is called 'postprandial somnolence'. So, what is exactly a food coma and what are the causes of it?
What Is A Food Coma?
Food coma is a condition that can happen after eating a filling meal, which makes you feel extremely tired or lethargic and can last for several hours.
After eating a large meal, you would want to hit the bed and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging. Almost everyone has gone through this, but very few of us would know that it is called a food coma.
What Are The Causes Of Food Coma?
There are a whole lot of different theories about the causes of food coma. These are some of the popular ones.
1. Foods That Contain Tryptophan
Several health experts say that the post-meal sleep is credited to the high levels of L-tryptophan. It is an amino acid found in certain dairy and meat products. When the amino acid is consumed along with carbohydrates like rice or potatoes, it boosts the production of serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and when it's released, you are likely to feel more relaxed and lazy. Serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, and it is converted to melatonin. This hormone helps the body prepare for sleep.
2. Eating High-fat Meals
Researchers say that eating a meal that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates can cause post-meal sleepiness. They say that a complex combination of satiety signals is sent to the sleep centres of the brain after having a large and solid meal that is high in fat. These signals reduce the hunger signals and arousal in the brain and increase sleepiness.
3. Blood Flow Shifts From Brain To Digestive Organs
Health experts say that food coma is caused by a slight shift in the blood flow away from the brain to the digestive organs.
While you are eating, your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) gets activated. This parasympathetic nervous system is triggered when the stomach becomes full after eating a large meal. As a result, the blood flow is directed more to the working digestive organs instead of the brain.
This slight diversion may cause you to feel sleepy and tired. PNS also regulates certain functions in the body like slowing down the heart rate and regulating digestion and blood pressure.
Ways To Tackle Food Coma Or Postprandial Somnolence
1. If you feel unwell or bloated after eating, consider having a peppermint herbal tea to settle your stomach.
2. Another way to tackle food coma is by balancing your meal. Your plate should be filled with equal amounts of vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Include green leafy vegetables too which are packed with fibre, essential for digestion.
3. Have a smaller meal that will keep you alert after lunch, especially when you are at the office. Keep your portion size in control.
4. After a solid meal, make yourself active by enjoying a short walk to increase blood circulation and stimulate your muscles.
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