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Nourishing the Mind and Reducing Inflammation-Part 3

In part one, we considered the benefits of vegetables in nourishing the mind and reducing inflammation. In part two, we considered the benefits of chewing to nourish the mind and reduce inflammation. In this blog we will consider snacking and its effects on the mind and inflammation.


Shortly after I began my career as a dietitian, a patient who had been in a car accident was admitted to the hospital emergency room, where I worked. She had a blood workup that included an alcohol level. She was found to have intoxicating levels of alcohol. The patient kept telling the medical staff, “I have not had any alcohol, I do not drink!” Of course they did not believe her. But finally, she convinced someone enough to call me in for a consult, to see if there possibly could be any other way someone could have an elevated alcohol level. The patient was interviewed and found to follow a typical “grazer” dietary eating pattern (eating off and on throughout the day, and in this case, the night also). Could this have contributed to an elevated alcohol level and the resulting car accident?

Cooking Beans

Let’s say, I decided to start a pot of beans for myself. It will take about two hours before the beans are tender and ready to eat. But an hour later my husband, Marty, calls and says he will be home for lunch, so I add another handful of beans. About 30 minutes later, Marty calls again, and says he will be bringing home a friend. So, I throw in another handful of beans. How well will the beans turn out?


It takes about four to five hours for the stomach to fully process a meal. What happens when we eat breakfast at 8am, have a snack at 10am, lunch at noon, followed by a snack at 3pm, supper at 6pm and a final snack at 9pm, before going to bed at 10pm?

The Research:[1] 

Volunteers were given a breakfast of cereal and milk, bread, fruit and an egg. Scans revealed the stomach typically emptied in about four and a half hours.

The next day the test volunteers were given the same breakfast. Then two hours later volunteers were given one of the following: an ice cream cone, peanut butter sandwich, or a piece of pumpkin pie with a glass of milk. Results are outlined in the table below.


Time it took to leave the stomach

Ice Cream

6+ hours

Peanut Butter Sandwich

9+ hours

Pumpkin Pie with Milk

Large amount of residue in the stomach even after 9 hours

Again, the next day, the volunteers were given the same original breakfast. An hour and a half after breakfast, volunteers were given a half slice of bread with butter and continued to be given the half slice of bread with butter every hour and half, until 5pm with nothing else to eat. X-rays showed more than half of the breakfast was still in the stomach after nine hours.

Lastly, the volunteers were given the original breakfast at 8am on the third day. Twice during the morning and twice during the afternoon a bite-size square of chocolate candy was given with nothing else to eat. At 9:30pm, 13½ hours after breakfast, more than half of the morning meal was still in the stomach.

The food remaining in the stomach was tested, revealing the chemicals produced during partial digestion are toxic, such as aldehydes, alcohols, amines, and esters. These can cause intoxication of brain, liver, kidneys, and other delicate tissues.

Could continual snacking day and night have contributed to an elevated alcohol level and the resulting car accident in the emergency room patient? The research say it is possible.

To help the stomach work best, it needs to complete it work before more food is added. This will help nourish the brain properly and decrease inflammation.

In our next blog, One of the Best Ways to Reduce Inflammation, we will consider a really good after meal habit that will help improve brain nourishment and decrease inflammation.

[1] Garnsey, C.  Life and Health. 1936.

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