“You are what you eat” is an adage known to everyone. But what we do before a meal also has a great impact on our health.
Give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to eat breakfast before leaving the house, or pack a few snacks in your bag to ensure that you have energy for the morning as you go out the door. Here’s a simple list to help remind you how important it is to fuel your body, especially before engaging in any of these common daily tasks:
1. Take anti-inflammatories
Aspirin, paracetamol, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can’t be taken on an empty stomach. Not only does it reduce their effectiveness but it causes serious health problems (such as gastric bleeding) as well. Read here about other medicines not to be taken on an empty stomach.
- Advice: Milk lowers the negative effects of NSAIDs. If it’s not available, you can wash the drug down with plenty of water.
2. Drink coffee
Even decaffeinated coffee stimulates the production of acid that might cause heartburn and other digestive tract issues if drunk on an empty stomach. Skipping breakfast even after coffee may lead to a serotonin deficiency and a gloomy mood for the rest of the day.
- Advice: If you’re unable to give up the habit of drinking coffee first thing in the morning, consume it with milk or cream: milk fat will reduce the negative effects. Choose natural coffee over freeze-dried.
3. Drink alcohol
Without eating, the alcohol absorption rate increases by a factor of 2 and is the same as during its intravenous injection. In contrast, the removal of alcohol breakdown products slows down, which provokes a severe hangover. The rapid effect of alcohol on the body doesn’t go without negative consequences for your liver, heart, and kidneys.
- Advice: If the situation doesn’t allow you to refuse a drink, give preference to cooled noncarbonated drinks as they are absorbed more slowly. Better yet, eat at least a small sandwich, ideally one that contains butter.
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4. Chew gum
The digestive acid produced while you’re chewing gum destroys the lining of an empty stomach; overindulgence with gum may lead to gastritis. It is also scientifically proven that people who chew gum prefer junk food (French fries, candy) rather than fruit and vegetables.
- Advice: Chewing gums containing natural sweeteners (xylitol, sorbitol) are less harmful than those with sugar, cyclamate, or aspartame. Avoid chewing gum for more than 10 minutes, even on a full stomach.
5. Go to bed
Hunger and low glucose levels prevent us from falling asleep and cause superficial sleep and early awakening. Interestingly, a lack of sleep increases the level of hunger hormones. This is the reason why we eat more on the following day after skipping dinner.
- Advice: Gorging yourself before sleep is also a bad idea. The best solution is dairy products because they contain magnesium and calcium. These elements will ensure a sound sleep.
6. Intense training
There is an opinion that exercising on an empty stomach burns more calories. In truth, that doesn’t influence fat loss. Muscle loss, on the other hand, is real. The exercise intensity is also reduced since the body lacks energy.
- Advice: Replace intense training with aerobic exercise. If you have digestive issues, you’d better have a snack before any type of exercise because physical activity induces production of gastric juice, which is harmful to an empty stomach.
We all know that hunger makes us buy more food than we actually need. In fact, an empty stomach makes us more acquisitive even in non-food stores. According to research, the internal message of “I want food“ gets pared down to simply ”I want,” and the famished person obeys that message by buying things.
- Advice: Besides a shopping list made in advance, paying with cash can also help you save money. Further research shows that people tend to spend less when they pay with cash instead of a credit card.
8. Drink citrus juice
The acid and tough fibers contained in citrus fruits irritate your empty stomach, which is especially dangerous for those who have gastritis or are at risk of developing it.
- Advice: Freshly squeezed citrus juice will bring nothing but benefits if you dilute it with water in a 1:1 ratio (for those with hyperacidity) or 2:1 (for all others). By the way, there are other foods besides citruses that shouldn’t be eaten on an empty stomach.