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Why Not to Swim After You Eat?

Hello everyone,

Wanted to pick something simple and fun for a summer topic. This is something that you have all heard people say over the years, mostly our mothers. And if you were like me, you didn't know why, but thought that there was some mystical magical force that would come down and cause some major problem if you swam after you ate. Here is the real reason.

Our bodies have approximately 5 liters of blood, or 1.5 gallons. This blood circulates and provides oxygen to our tissues. Now, during certain times, our bodies will purposefully allow blood, or shunt blood, to certain area of the body more than others. For instance, after we have eaten, our body will shunt more of our blood to our GI tract to allow for digestion and absorption of nutrients. Another example, is during times of exercise, such as running or swimming, our bodies will shunt most of our blood to our muscle to allow them to have more access to oxygen. However, our bodies only have that limited amount of 1.5 gallons of blood and it has a hard time sharing the blood when you are trying to do two this at once, such as digest food and exercise. Therefore, it will attempt to move blood to both places, the GI tract and the muscle, but they will both be short the amount that they need. This is what would cause the muscle to lack the proper oxygen they need and cause cramping. That is why you were told not to swim after you eat. If the exercise to far too intense and the muscle require all of the blood, then your body goes into a defensive mode, because it does not think that you are exercising and attempting to enjoy yourself, it thinks that you are furiously running away from saber tooth tiger. It will then shunt all the blood to your muscles and take it away from the GI tract, and without the proper blood to digest food and absorb nutrients, the body simply say we need to get rid of that food for now, and that is why you vomit with a full belly and then exercise.

Hope that was fun and gave a little insight to how awesome the body is. Thanks for reading.

And if you have a minute to click here and give a quick review of our office, I would appreciate that very much as it helps others find us on Google and allows them to find good care.

Dr. Mckim


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