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Can You Throw Up From Not Eating All Day

by Clara Wynn
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Can You Throw Up From Not Eating All Day

Can You Throw Up From Not Eating All Day? You’ve got a big presentation at work tomorrow morning. You’re feeling anxious about it. Your lunch date with a friend was canceled last night. Instead of ordering out or running to the store for takeout, you decide to pick up some fast food on your way home from work. But when you get there, you just can’t bring yourself to order anything. The drive-through window looks like an obstacle course — a maze of choices you have no interest in trying. Finally, you pull into the nearest gas station and park. It’s not exactly what you had in mind for your evening, but it’ll do. And besides, you figure since you skipped breakfast, maybe you should skip dinner too. You sit down in the parking lot, pop open the glove compartment door and dig around until you find the payphone. Then you call a family member who lives nearby. She tells you she’s going over tonight with homemade lasagna and garlic bread. “I’m really stuffed,” you say. “Maybe I’ll see her later.”

The next day, you wake up and notice something strange. A dull pain radiates across the lower half of your body. You feel nauseous. As you head toward the bathroom, you think back on the previous night. You remember sitting in the car after work, then calling your mom. Maybe you were hungry. If so, why didn’t you just order something? Wasn’t she supposed to make dinner? Why did you skip that as well? What was wrong with you? After all, you knew better than to go without eating. What would happen if you ate every meal for days on end? Would you throw up?

In this article we will discuss how the lack of nutrients affects digestion, and look at what happens once the body runs out of fuel. We’ll also examine whether people actually can vomit from skipping meals.

What Happens When You Don’t Eat

When someone skips a meal, he or she isn’t simply depriving themselves of nourishment; instead, they are missing out on one step in the digestive process. Digestion begins in the mouth, where saliva contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Saliva also serves to moisten food particles so they blend together more easily. Once food reaches the stomach, a series of chemical processes begins. There, gastric juices produced by special cells called parietal cells begin breaking down protein molecules into smaller pieces. These enzymes help to digest carbohydrates and fats. In addition to these enzymes, other chemicals called prostaglandins act as cellular messengers. They stimulate blood flow near the stomach lining, which allows more oxygenated blood to reach the small intestine. This increases the rate at which the contents of the stomach move through the intestinal wall.

Once the food has been broken down into smaller chunks, it is ready to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the small intestine. Here, specialized cells known as enterocytes absorb the nutrients from the mixture. One important function of enterocytes is to secrete hormones that affect appetite and metabolism. For example, two such hormones are cholecystokinin (CCK) and peptide YY3-36 [Source: Stadler].

CCK stimulates the release of bile acids from the gallbladder, while PYY3-36 suppresses appetite. Enterocytes also produce insulin, which helps sugar molecules pass into the bloodstream. Lastly, the muscle layer along the walls of the small intestine secretes yet another hormone, motilin, which stimulates peristalsis.

Peristalsis is the rhythmic contraction of the muscles lining the bowel wall. Together, these muscular movements propel the undigested food onward to the large intestine, where bacteria break down its remaining parts.

Now let’s put everything we’ve discussed into context. How does skipping meals affect our ability to digest food? In short, it depends on what kind of meal we miss.

Skipping Meals Can Affect Digestion

Many studies have shown that skipping meals leads to weight gain. Skipping meals causes the body to slow down its metabolic rate, resulting in decreased energy expenditure. Furthermore, because the body doesn’t receive any nutritional value from the foods eaten during periods of fasting, it must conserve calories elsewhere to ensure survival. Thus, even though someone may lose weight temporarily from skipping meals, his or her overall caloric intake will eventually increase due to reduced physical activity.

While skipping meals might seem counterintuitive, it could even cause problems for those who regularly indulge in junk food. Research shows that consuming high amounts of fat and refined sugars causes inflammation in the gut. This inflammation disrupts the balance between good and bad bacteria living there, leading to diarrhea and constipation. Inflammation may also play a role in the development of ulcers and Crohn’s disease.

So far, we’ve only looked at the effects of skipping meals on healthy adults. What happens to children who aren’t getting enough to eat? Children are especially vulnerable to malnutrition because their growing bodies require more calories than most consume. However, kids’ metabolisms are slower than adults’. Their digestive systems are less efficient at absorbing nutrients, and they need extra help keeping their bowels moving. To compensate for this, pediatricians recommend that parents feed their children frequent snacks containing complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

For babies, the best type of snack is breast milk, which contains all three components mentioned above. Breastfeeding is beneficial not only because it provides nutrition, but also because it signals to the baby’s brain that food is being ingested. Infants whose mothers nurse often tend to grow up healthier and smarter than those whose moms seldom or never breastfeed. Babies who eat solid foods before bedtime tend to wake up sicker than those who enjoy a nighttime feeding.

Since babies don’t start developing regular eating habits until they’re several months old, they may experience temporary vomiting episodes as a result of skipping meals. However, it’s unlikely that these symptoms will persist beyond infancy unless an underlying medical condition exists.

On the next page, we’ll learn what happens to your digestive system when you abstain from eating for extended periods.

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