Dr Tom Smith: Christmas meal times

When's the best time for Christmas dinner, health-wise? Midday or evening?

Definitely midday. Any experienced GP will tell you that the busiest time of the year for strokes and heart attacks is the early hours of Boxing Day morning. That's because a late fatty meal, plenty of alcohol and total relaxation (if not a drunken stupor) afterwards conspire together in the average overweight middle-aged man or woman to produce blood clots in arteries. It's even worse if you smoke that favourite cigar. Eat at midday and go for a walk afterwards, and by the evening you have hugely reduced your risk. The problem with eating late on Christmas Day is that you won't take that vital exercise afterwards - and that's the last straw.

What's wrong with crushing tablets to help me swallow them? My doctor says I mustn't do it.

Modern medicines are designed for maximum uptake of the active drug by particular areas of the gut. So the surface of the tablets you are taking is treated to ensure the active ingredient passes unchanged through the acid of the stomach and the digestive juices of the duodenum into the small bowel. From there it is taken up into the liver intact. Crushing the tablets will alter that protection, often destroying the medicine before it has a chance to enter the bloodstream. So if the instructions are to swallow it whole, do so. If you find it hard, place the pill lengthwise at the back of your tongue then have a gulp of water. It will go down without you noticing.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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