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Can You Feel Nauseous From Not Eating

by Clara Wynn
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Can You Feel Nauseous From Not Eating

Can You Feel Nauseous From Not Eating

Can You Feel Nauseous From Not Eating? When we think about feeling sick, we usually imagine getting food poisoning from spoiled leftovers or a bad egg sandwich at lunch; catching the flu from someone who coughed on us; or coming down with something nasty like mono, the Norwalk virus, salmonella or E. coli. But did you know that not eating could actually cause nausea? The reason is probably because our bodies have evolved over time to recognize when it’s being starved. In fact, your body has so many mechanisms in place for detecting when you’re hungry that if you don’t eat for a while, your brain will begin sending signals to get you to eat — even if all you really want are some crackers. It does this through a process called negative feedback regulation, which is basically a system of checks and balances. For example, let’s say you’ve been skipping meals due to stress. Your body has begun signaling your brain to keep up the pace of feeding yourself, but your brain keeps ignoring those messages because it knows you haven’t eaten recently. So instead of going into starvation mode and slowing down its metabolism (which would help conserve energy), your brain begins telling your muscles to start burning fat reserves. If your body isn’t used to doing this, it causes muscle soreness and fatigue as well as other unpleasant side effects such as headaches.

So how does your body know whether you’ve eaten enough? There are several ways: First, hormones play a big role in regulating appetite. When levels of leptin drop, for example, your body sends out a message saying “I’m hungry.” On top of that, there are also neurotransmitters involved in controlling hunger, such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. When these chemicals are released after eating, they send a signal to your brain that you’re full. And then there are gut hormones that tell your brain whether your stomach contains enough food. One of these, ghrelin, tells your brain that it should continue feeding itself to avoid going too long without eating. That said, it’s important to note that while all of these factors affect how often you eat, none of them directly tell your body to stop eating altogether. Instead, the goal is to take control of these things and manage your cravings.

In addition to hormonal changes, there are other reasons why you might feel nauseated from having skipped a meal. Let’s talk about two specific ones: gastric reflux disease and gastroparesis. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach contents back up into the esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach). Most people experience heartburn, which is discomfort in the chest area that comes from excess stomach acid backing up into the throat and/or upper part of your windpipe. GERD affects approximately one third of American adults.

While most cases of GERD resolve themselves within a few weeks, sometimes a person ends up developing complications like a stricture, in which a narrowing develops at the point where the esophagus meets the stomach. As far as why we get it, research suggests that GERD results from eating high amounts of fatty foods, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, living near a nuclear plant, taking certain medications or having a hiatal hernia (a condition in which the lower portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest cavity).

Gastroparesis happens when digestion slows down. People with this disorder have difficulty swallowing because their digestive tract moves slowly along the way. They also tend to overeat due to feelings of weakness and depression. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, indigestion, flatulence, nausea and vomiting. Unlike GERD, however, gastroparesis doesn’t involve regurgitated stomach fluid, just undigested food. A variety of conditions can lead to gastroparesis, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism, neurological disorders, infections, cancer treatments, toxins, stroke and dementia.

While it’s true that not eating can make you feel nauseous, it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. After about three days, your stomach will become accustomed to not receiving nutrients. During this period, you’ll still experience bouts of hunger and sickness. However, eventually, your body will adjust and return to normal.

If you want to learn more about how your body works, try reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, a book available at any library or on the Web. Or visit http://www.bodycheckbook.org/.

Next, find out what you need to do to prevent nausea related to hunger.

Preventing Hunger-Induced Nausea

Sometimes, simply knowing what to expect can help relieve symptoms. For instance, if you know that you’re prone to heartburn attacks, you can prepare yourself ahead of time. Eat bland foods, stay away from fried foods, drink lots of water throughout the day and lie down before you eat. Also, consider using antacids to treat the symptoms early on rather than waiting until later in the afternoon when your stomach already feels bloated. Another thing you can do is exercise regularly. Exercising stimulates the production of endorphins, which are naturally produced in your brain during strenuous activities and give you a sense of well-being. Taking a short walk every day will also help release tension and anxiety. Lastly, try to relax. Stress makes everything worse, especially when coupled with a poor diet. Once again, your best bet is to consult with your doctor if you suspect that you have a medical problem.

The bottom line is that if you’re prone to experiencing nausea, you shouldn’t skip meals completely. Just follow these tips to curb your cravings:

Eat smaller portions. Skipping meals can leave you feeling famished. To avoid this, split larger meals into four or five small meals each day.

Keep snacks handy. Snacking between meals helps regulate blood sugar and prevents hunger-induced cravings.

Avoid sugary carbs. Sugar triggers the release of insulin, which increases the amount of glucose floating around in your bloodstream. These sugars act as fuel for yeast growth, causing vaginal thrush. Yeast thrives in warm, moist areas, like the vagina and rectum, making women prone to yeast infection. In men, yeast infections occur in the foreskin, penis, anus, urethra and testicles.

Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body and reduces the amount of water in the intestines, leading to constipation. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and can increase sexual urges, causing frequent urination.

Eliminate caffeine and nicotine. Caffeine and nicotine stimulate the production of adrenaline, which can cause dehydration. Both substances also raise blood pressure, putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system.

Don’t smoke. Smoking raises carbon monoxide levels in the blood and decreases oxygen flow to the lungs, leading to lung problems.

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