When the food coma hits in…
The human body is an amazing phenomenon. For every one of us, it is the most intimate and favourite object we know of. However, not everyone is aware of its capability, and the anatomy behind it. Have any of us wondered why we feel sleepy and drowsy after a full course meal in the afternoon? It feels very strange. While food is supposed to keep us energetic, it ironically, makes us tired, or better still push us into a “food coma”. Scientifically, it is known as “postprandial somnolence”. There are various hypotheses to prove this weird post-meal effect. The most popular answer for this mystery is founded by Dr Tomonori Kishino, a professor of health science at Japan’s Kyorin University. He claimed that there are changes to the blood circulation post-meal, where there is an increased blood flow to the small intestine to fuel digestion. This eventually corresponds to a drop in blood flow to the brain, triggering feelings of sleepiness. Although as simple as it seems, our chemistry tutor will be able to channel these fun facts to students, and answer questions that students take only a few seconds to come up with.
What is the role of the stomach?
After a heavy meal in a quiet environment, in the office or in the library, we suddenly become a celebrity, but in a humorous way. Why? Who to be blamed? The culprit becomes the stomach, with a burble and gurgle. It catches a lot of attention and disturbs us from the full concentration that we are having. Ingestion and digestion is one of the few processes that we often don’t think about. Yet, our stomach is home to a large orchestra of hormones stimulated by epithelial cells that line the stomach and small intestine. These hormones have a range of functions that we will look into soon. Our chemistry tuition will cover a few hormones that are responsible for regulating the pH of the stomach. These hormones then directly enter the blood, eventually affecting the functions of other organs of the digestive system including the liver, pancreas and then our brain. Not only is it a hormone-generating machine, but it also functions as one of our immune system’s first lines of defense. Beside digesting our food, the stomach acts as a wall of defense, and helps to protect our entire body. The acidity of the stomach helps to sterilise the food that we are eating. It kills off bacteria, and potential food toxins. Such details of the stomach may not seem like a big deal to learn about. However, when it comes to exams, the details might feel like a pain to the brain. Therefore, our chemistry tutor will ‘digest’ these details into simpler details, such that it is a good ‘ingestion’ to students’ brains.
What are the hormones involved for pH regulation?
Our stomach contains gastric juice, (not Sprite or Coca Cola, but that with chemical acid, that can be controlled at cellular level by targeting the biochemical mechanisms of acid production. The secretion of acid in the stomach is triggered by histamine binding to H2-histamine receptors that are present in the cells of gastric lining. There are two types of pH regulators. One would be Ranitidine which blocks the H2-histamine receptors and reduces the secretion of acid. The other one would be the omeprazole, also known as the gastric proton pump, reduces the production of stomach acid. Truly speaking these words can be hard to memorise. However, our chemistry tuition would introduce acronyms that will easily allow students to capture these names with ease. Now, that we know the history behind digestion, we will always remember to stick out our ear to listen to our stomach gurgling after every meal we eat, wouldn’t we?
Click HERE to read next
Chemistry Tuition Singapore @ MY CHEM CAFE
Principal Chemistry Tutor: Mr. Jacky Wong