Is it true that one shouldn't take a bath after lunch? If so, does it depend on

  • how heavy the lunch is?
  • whether one is taking a bath or a shower or bathing in a river?
  • how warm or cold the water is?

Often, I tend to be in a situation where I go for lunch first and then for bath. So I was wondering, whether it interferes either with digestion or with anything else.

Two contexts for this question (in response to the suggestion in the comments) :

Note : I am not looking for answers for the contexts below, but rather for the questions above.

  1. I have heard a vague saying somewhere, that after a lunch, maximum blood flow is directed to the intestines and a bath might interfere with the digestion. (Purely anecodatal hearsay). I noticed that we burp a bit during the bath, if you have a bath after lunch.

  2. We were once touring a hilly area. We had food at a roadside joint and soon after jumped into the cold river (yes, very cold). After we were back at our room, two of my friends had a severe stomach upset, and two others quite uncomfortable, although I was fine.

  • 3
    Hello and welcome to Health.SE! I edited your question a bit so it's easier to read. If you disagree with any of that, feel free to edit again. Also, I removed the last part - this site is for answers based in science.
    – YviDe
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 17:37
  • I have a further question which I think would make it a better question for this site - as it is, the question is a bit vague, could you say what exactly you heard? That it's bad for digestion, or something else? Maybe you can add a source where this is claimed.
    – YviDe
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 17:39
  • @YviDe : I added a bit of context based on your suggestion in the comments. Hope it looks fine now.
    – Whirl Mind
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 17:11

1 Answer 1

  • Is it true that one shouldn't take a bath after lunch?

No. That's a long hold myth, nothing more.

Although it might have all the pedagogical value of scare stories in general:

So telling kids they might drown because they’ve just eaten is one way of getting them to listen to you. But from the evidence, it doesn’t appear to be backed up by science.

Bathing is less demanding than swimming? Most of these beliefs centre around swimming which might be a cause of discomfort, even minor cramps:

Eating-Exercise Connection: Even though this particular example is a myth, the relationship between eating and exercise is important. Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in how many calories you burn and how effective your workout is.

If you take to mean lunch in the South of Europe, where drinking alcohol with meals is customary, than the picture might change a little bit:

But meals that include a drink or two are another story. In 1989, for example, a study in the journal Pediatrics looked at almost 100 adolescents who drowned in Washington and found that 25 percent had been intoxicated. One year later, a study of hundreds of drowning deaths among adults in California found that 41 percent were alcohol related.

The Bottom Line Swimming after a meal will not increase the risk of drowning, unless alcohol is involved

But it seems to persist since even health organisations like the Red Cross once did give out advice along those lines. Not any longer:

False: Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming This one seemed almost universally accepted when I was a child and is still believed today. The myth involves the possibility of suffering severe muscle cramping and drowning from swimming on a full stomach. While it's true that the digestive process does divert the circulation of the blood toward the gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles, the fact is that an episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been documented. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Red Cross makes any specific recommendations about waiting any amount of time after eating before taking a swim. There's a theoretical possibility that one could develop a cramp while swimming with a full stomach, but a person swimming in a pool or controlled swimming area could easily exit the water if this happens. As with any exercise after eating, swimming right after a big meal might be uncomfortable, but it won't cause you to drown.

For possible origins of this myth:

No one is quite sure when or why parents began telling their children to wait an hour after eating before setting so much as a little toe in the pool or lake. Two popular theories abound, one biological and the other social.

And scientists have objected these theories for quite a while now:

In 1961 exercise physiologist Arthur Steinhaus took a position against this belief in the Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. He labeled the very idea of stomach cramps “questionable.”

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