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‘Cheese Comas’ Are An Actual Thing, Nutritionist Confirms

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‘Cheese Comas’ Are An Actual Thing, Nutritionist Confirms

It's Christmas, you've just polished off half a bottle of wine and an entire cheeseboard, so now you're going to go for a brisk long walk before settling down in front of the TV, right?

We didn't think so.

If you've ever found yourself feeling drowsy and desperate to hit the sofa after consuming copious amounts of fromage then you're not alone - cheese comas are an actual thing, and we have evidence to prove it.

"Cheese is very high in fat and protein," explains nutritionist Kelly Mulhall, founder of The Natural Balance. "Unlike carbohydrates, these two macronutrients require a lot more energy for the body to break them down during digestion. That is why you fuller for longer if you eat a high protein meal."

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We hope your Christmas is filled with cheeseboards (Credit: Shutterstock)
We hope your Christmas is filled with cheeseboards (Credit: Shutterstock)

Put simply, when too much blood flow is going towards digestion, less blood flow is available for the rest of your body, resulting in sleepiness, light-headedness, or just a need to sit down.

"You feel tired because the body has got its hands full trying to secrete enough digestive enzymes and stomach acid to break down that wheel of melted camembert and quince jelly," she adds.

"In order to denature (break down) the protein, it requires quite a bit of energy, which is moved away from other areas of the body, including the brain."

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Cheese is very high in fat and protein which takes more energy to break down (Credit: Unsplash)
Cheese is very high in fat and protein which takes more energy to break down (Credit: Unsplash)

Camilla Gray, nutritional therapist at OptiBac Probiotics, adds: "The hormone CCK that's released after eating high-fat foods, is associated with inducing sleepiness.

"After eating a high-calorie meal, signals are sent to the sleep centres in your brain. These signals decrease both arousal and hunger in the brain whilst increasing sleepiness."

And that's not all. According to Kelly, cheese is high in an amino acid called tryptophan with is the building block of both the happy hormone serotonin, and a precursor for the sleep hormone melatonin, which can make you feel more drowsy.

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"It's possible that this can be one of the reasons you feel tired," she says. "However it's worth noting that the evidence for the theory is limited.

Say yes to cheese (Credit: Pixabay)
Say yes to cheese (Credit: Pixabay)

While most of the time you just need a quick lie down or a good nap to get over a cheese coma, if you find the tiredness to be extreme or it happens on a regular basis alongside other symptoms, it might be worth getting checked for a lactose intolerance.

"If you are experiencing bloating, gas and nausea alongside fatigue, it could be that your body is reacting to the dairy in an allergic way," adds Kelly.

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But don't say no to that extra slice of brie just yet - eat cheese as part of a balanced meal or go for that walk, and most time you'll snap out of it in no time.

Better yet, give in to that nap. It is Christmas, after all.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros

Topics: Tasty Food, Cheese

Naomi Chadderton (FL)
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