Swimming right after eating is actually not as harmful as you thought

We've all heard that it's best not to go into the water right after eating. But why? And above all, is it true? This myth might a bit exaggerated.

Swimming right after eating is actually not as harmful as claimed
© Ana Rocio Garcia Franco GETTY_IMAGES
Swimming right after eating is actually not as harmful as claimed

Summer is upon us and with it comes swimming and good meals as well. But according to a widespread belief, these two activities that we all love do not go well together. Our parents, relatives and friends have already warned us all about the danger of going swimming right after eating. This preventive measure would aim to give the body time to digest the amount of food ingested. But what are you really risking?

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Digest or swim, you have to decide

The advice ‘do not swim after eating’ comes from a belief that the stomach and limbs compete to use oxygenated blood. It would thus be preferable to ‘spare’ your body by not imposing extra exertion on it. Especially when you have ingested a large amount of food.

Digest or swim, you have to decide :Jodie Griggs GETTY_IMAGES

However, those who take the risk to test this theory themselves, risk more discomfort than real danger, as per Dignity Health. There won’t be any drowning, but watch out for stomach cramps! It’s relatively risk-free if you only had a small meal or a snack.

Another belief that floats around is that the body temperature rises during digestion. This phenomenon can ultimately promote the risk of discomfort from thermal shock when swimming in colder water. But digestion does not cause the body to heat up enough to actually increase the risk of hydrocution. Because it is indeed this risk that must be taken into account.

Hydrocution, the real danger

The real danger of summer is therefore not bathing during digestion, but hydrocution. It occurs following a sudden cooling of the body when a person enters cold water when their body temperature is hot. And since we are often used to basking in the sun for long minutes, even long hours, before diving into icy water, this risk exists. This thermal shock can lead to drowning.

thermal shock can lead to drowning. Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa GETTY_IMAGES

Hydrocution occurs when you enter the water suddenly. It is therefore necessary to gradually immerse yourself, in order to avoid any thermal shock! Another imperative that our parents have always advised us: wet the neck, chest and face before starting to swim. A habit that allows the body to ‘taste’ the temperature of the water and gradually get used to it.

The SNSM association shared:

If the fact of going to the water after a meal will therefore a priori not lead to hydrocution, this can nevertheless complicate the rescue of the person in the event of vomiting, in particular, the need to keep the airways free.

This article is translated from Gentside FR.

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