While there are certain foods and ingredients (such as salt or sodium) can directly affect blood pressure (BP), the mechanism of your digestive system when it digests the foods that you eat also have an effect. Your BP can fluctuate during and after eating. And it is normal since the cells of your digestive system need more oxygen supply to work in digesting foods. But while typically eating can increase your BP, sometime BP may decrease after eating.
As well we know, the heart is a vital organ of the body. It has crucial function in your cardiovascular system. It regulates the distribution of the blood all around the body.
But it doesn’t work alone. It is supported by lots of blood vessels. The blood flows through these blood vessels. And the blood that flows through your arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to cells of the body) can cause force against the artery walls. This creates pressure inside the arteries called as blood pressure.
Basically, the fluctuation of your BP is dependent on what your body needs. Each time when any cells of your body need more supply of oxygen and nutrients, your heart will respond naturally.
For instance, when you get moving physically either with walking or running, the cells of your muscles require more oxygen to support your activity. For this reason, your heart will increase its heart rate in order to pump more blood faster.
And this fast distribution of blood through your arteries increases the pressure against your artery walls. Therefore, your BP will increase during exercise.
And did you know that your BP can vary throughout the day? The daily pattern of blood pressure fluctuation throughout the day may vary from person to person. But in general, the time of when you want to go to sleep, during sleep, and until about 2 hours before you wake up in the morning is the range of time when your BP is typically at its lowest levels.
After you wake up, it then gradually increase until it reaches its optimum level in the middle of afternoon. Then it decreases gradually in the evening and night. For more in-depth information on how your BP fluctuates throughout the day, visit this section!
Each cell of your body needs to get plenty of oxygen and nutrient supply to keep functioning, either for cells of your stomach and other parts of the digestive system. Like other organs of the body, your stomach and intestines have lots of arteries called arterioles (they are the smallest blood vessels of your arterial system).
Most foods that you eat are not in a form that your body can absorb and use as nourishment. Therefore, they need to be digested.
Foods you eat will be processed and converted into smaller molecules of nutrients. The digestion starts from mouth, gastric (stomach), and eventually completed in your small intestine.
Most of smaller molecules of nutrient from foods that you eat are absorbed in the small intestine which then will go into the bloodstream. The nutrient then will be distributed through blood to build & nourish all cells of the body.
The way of the digestive system to digest foods that you eat involves lots of complicated mechanisms. In general, it needs the balance of coordination between circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems.
During digestion, your heart needs to work harder by increasing its heart rate in order to compensate for more blood that flows through arterioles of your stomach and small intestine.
For this reason, typically your BP will raise after eating. Therefore, exercise after eating is not recommended.
Since there is more blood that flow to your stomach than to your brain, you may tend to feel sleepy. That’s why, it’s also recommended to allow a few minutes before you continue your daily activity.
But don’t worry, this is only temporary. The effect of digestion process on your BP is similar like the temporary raised BP when you exercise. As the amounts of foods that need to be digested decrease – your BP will gradually return at its normal levels on its own.
In addition, while the mechanism of your digestive system to digest foods you eat can cause temporary raised blood pressure, some foods can directly affect your BP and put it at dangerous levels (stage I and stage II hypertension).
Foods high in salt and saturated fats can raise BP and LDL (bad cholesterol – it stands for ‘low density lipoprotein’), see also good and bad foods for your BP and cholesterol in this section!
As you age, the ability of your body to respond a sudden change of blood pressure (such as when after a meal or when you get moving from lying down to standing) decreases.
Typically, blood pressure increases naturally after you take a meal – as noted before. But there is also condition medically called as postprandial hypotension. It is a medical condition to call low blood pressure that occurs after getting a meal.
Doctors often describe this kind of hypotension as a condition when the blood vessels and heart don’t respond as well as they should after eating. It is more common to be found in elderly people.
The symptoms may include lightheadedness, dizziness, disturb-vision, chest pain, and nausea. If you have a postprandial hypotension, the following lifestyle approaches may help: