What happens to your blood pressure after eating?
The body regulates blood flow to organs or tissues depending on needs. When you eat a meal, the digestive system needs more blood flow to digest and process food, sending the signal to your heart to increase blood pressure and deliver a sufficient amount blood to the stomach and digestive system. For this reason, it’s much better to measure your blood pressure with an empty stomach.
Is This Spike in Blood Pressure Considered Normal?
The rise in blood pressure after eating happens to everyone, and as soon as your digestive system has processed your meal, your blood pressure returns to normal levels.
On the other hand, blood pressure while your stomach is empty can actually plummet – causing that light-headed, weak feeling we’re all probably familiar with. To boost your blood pressure back up to where it needs to be, just eat a small snack or drink a nutrient-rich beverage.
How long does it take for blood pressure to regulate after eating?
After eating a meal, you should wait about two hours before doing anything strenuous. This will allow adequate time for your body to digest food and blood pressure to return to normal levels, and your heart will be ready to direct blood to muscles needed for exercise without the demands for digestion.
Low Blood Pressure After Eating
Up to one-third of older people may experience a fairly common condition called postprandial hypotension. This temporary drop in blood pressure can cause a feeling of dizziness after a meal, caused by the heart’s failure to properly respond to eating a meal. Instead of increasing blood flow to the digestive system while maintaining blood pressure in the rest of the body, it decreases everywhere except the digestive system.
In turn, this can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, and result in fainting or falling – similar to what you might experience with blood pressure on an empty stomach.
Postprandial hypotension can be caused by a genetic mutation, and can also occur after trauma such as an accident or stroke. Most commonly, it comes from age related changes that interrupt the body’s normal reaction to variances in blood pressure. Additionally, chronic conditions like diabetes, nerve damage, or Parkinson’s disease can also cause postprandial hypotension.
What should you do if you experience low blood pressure after eating?
If you experience lower blood pressure after a meal, try drinking 12 to 18 ounces of water before eating. This might help to make the drop in your blood pressure less noticeable.
You should also eat smaller meals several times a day instead of one large meal, and avoid foods that require speedy digestion. White rice, potatoes, and white bread are passed too quickly to the small intestine, so cutting down on these foods and replacing them with high protein whole grain foods and beans can help slow digestion and reduce low blood pressure after eating.
In addition, resting after a meal for an hour can allow your body the resources it needs for digestion, without the added stress of activities it can’t handle. If you often experience low blood pressure empty stomach, consider keeping snacks on hand to help curb your appetite.
If you feel faint or dizzy after eating or while your stomach is empty, discuss this with your doctor. They should be able to help you determine what the cause of your low blood pressure after eating is, and what steps might need to be taken to solve the problem.