Do You Really Have To Wait 30 Minutes After Eating to Swim? A Doctor Answers

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Playing The Truth Behind The Age Old Warning That Swimming Right After Eating Is Dangerous

If you've grown up hearing that you shouldn't get in the pool directly after eating, you're not alone. So many of us grew up hearing that you should wait 30 minutes after eating to swim, but is there any truth to this? We brought in family medicine physician Dr. Jen Caudle to answer. 

FAQ: Do you have to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim? 

Dr. Caudle says probably not. "This idea goes as far back as 1908, when the boy scout handbook said that boys had to wait 90 minutes after eating to swim because of a risk of drowning. Let's start with where this idea came from. When we eat, blood flow goes to our stomach and intestines to help us digest. The theory was that there would be so much blood flow going to the intestines and stomach that there wouldn’t be enough blood flow going to your muscles, and your muscles might not work properly, which could cause cramping, and in the worst case, drowning," Dr. Caudle explains.  

"You wouldn't get enough blood flow to your limbs to keep you afloat or help you swim. It is true that when we eat, blood flow goes to our intestines, but it's not as though we don't have enough blood flow going to extremities and limbs and other parts of our bodies.  However, it is possible that you might cramp up if you eat a big meal and vigorously swim laps afterwards, so you might want to wait to avoid discomfort. If you're planning to just splash around a bit, that's not a big deal," she adds.  

Plus, Dr. Caudle addresses other FAQs on the best way to clean a wound, feeding a cold, starving a fever, whether cracking knuckles causes arthritis, using a q-tip to clean ear wax and gargling with salt water for a sore throat. 

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