How to speed digestion?

Table of Contents

It’s not fun to talk about it, but we’ve all experienced it before–enjoying a nice meal only to regret it later when our stomachs hurt due to indigestion. Some of the symptoms of indigestion include: bloating, belching, gas, burning or pain in the stomach or abdomen, and even nausea. None of these are pleasant, but the good news is that they often can be prevented by taking some simple steps toward better digestion. Here are the top 7 things you can do:

Eat foods containing probiotics, which are good bacteria that can be found in some foods as well as in your digestive tract, where they promote digestive health. Look for yogurts, such as Activa, that are labeled as containing live active cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus. Other foods that contain probiotics include kefir, buttermilk, and probiotic drinks, such as GoodBelly, which is a line of non-dairy, non-soy and vegan probiotic juice drinks. I recently tried a sample of the GoodBelly Probiotic Coconut Water and loved the flavor.

Do not lie down right after eating. Our bodies are made to digest food in an upright position and lying down while your body is trying to digest food can lead to indigestion. Wait 2-3 hours after a meal before going to bed.

Eat slowly. When you eat too quickly, you actually swallow a good deal of air, which can upset the digestive process.

Make sure you are getting plenty of fiber in your diet, but don’t go from eating very little fiber to lots of fiber overnight as that can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Instead, add more high-fiber foods into your diet slowly and drink plenty of water with them.

Keep a food journal to identify foods that trigger indigestion for you personally. Often foods or beverages that are high in acid, caffeine, or alcohol or that are spicy are trigger foods.

Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes or belts while eating as this can compress the stomach and make heartburn more likely.

Try chewing gum after your meals. It will help to stimulate the production of saliva, which helps to neutralize stomach acid and decreases the likelihood of experiencing indigestion.

If you make these changes, but are still experiencing the symptoms of indigestion, make sure to see your doctor. This could be a sign that the indigestion is a symptom of another problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, or gallbladder disease.

Digestive problems are a very common reason for going Paleo, but people who try Paleo for help with their digestive symptoms often focus exclusively on food – what foods make them react and what don’t. But specific foods aren’t the only reason why your digestion might be in trouble – and one of the other potential factors is posture.

If you think about the way most people sit all day, it’s just as evolutionarily weird as what they eat. Human bodies aren’t adapted to hunching over in a chair with our necks sticking forward all day. Our circulatory systems and muscle structures just aren’t built for it. When we try to cram our bodies into that mold, we get all kinds of problems, including back pain, mobility issues, and less-obvious consequences like digestive problems.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that posture can affect the way you digest food. After all, your posture determines how easily blood can flow around your body, and digestion requires a lot of blood flowing to your gut – if something is impairing that blood flow, then your digestion will be sluggish and you’ll get that “brick in your stomach” feeling. If you’ve ever tried to get up and go for a run too soon after eating, you know the uncomfortable consequences of getting the blood flowing away from your stomach too fast.

“Improving posture” in this sense doesn’t mean sitting up straight by your grandmother’s standards or balancing books on your head. It means holding your body in a way congruent with your basic physiological processes. And you don’t have to guess about the fact that this is important, either – there are actually studies on it. Posture after eating has been found to help with everything from carbohydrate intolerance (e.g. FODMAPs intolerance) to IBS and bloating? Here’s the rundown.

Posture and Carbohydrate Malabsorption

Carbohydrate malabsorption, including FODMAPs sensitivity and lactose intolerance, is a major cause of digestive problems. Some of it has to do with the gut flora and various other factors, but posture also matters. A group of scientists from Japan has been studying the effect of postprandial posture (that’s the way you sit or stand after eating) on digestion:

  • In this study, the researchers compared lying down to sitting up after a meal. They found that the women who lay down digested their food more slowly and had much less malabsorption. Meanwhile, the women who sat up had significantly more malabsorption.
  • Another study by the same group found a similar result for milk sugar (lactose): lying down improved digestion of lactose and reduced malabsorption compared to sitting up.

The author’s hypothesis to explain this was that lying down essentially helped flip one of our oldest evolutionary switches by shifting the subjects out of “fight or flight” mode and into “rest and digest” mode. “Fight or flight” mode is exactly what it says on the tin: your blood is rushing to your muscles and your stress hormones are high to maximize your strength and reflexes. By contrast, in “rest and digest” mode, blood is flowing to your digestive system, which gives your body a hand up with the extremely energy-demanding process of digestion.

Chronic stress (always being in fight-or-flight mode thanks to your commute, your lousy boss, your credit card bills, your ever-growing to-do list…) is one of the big evolutionary mismatches in the modern world: we weren’t physiologically built to be in “fight or flight” mode all the time, and digestion is just one of the many casualties.

What the researchers found is that posture might be one way to cue our bodies to shift from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest, and alleviate some of the modern chronic stress burden, with the ultimate result of improving digestion. This suggests that if you have problems with FODMAPs or lactose intolerance, lying down and relaxing after a meal or maybe even just reclining might help improve your digestion. In fact, if it really is just about the “rest and digest” mode, then just staying calm during and after your meal (no lunch at your desk, no eating in a rush) could possibly do the trick even without the posture.

Posture, Gas, and Bloating

The studies above suggested that posture might be more of a cue to your body to turn off the stress hormones and focus on digestion – this would help with malabsorption because the more resources (blood flow, energy…) you can dedicate to digesting your food, the better you’ll be able to do the job. But it’s not all about cueing! Posture can also physically help with bloating and discomfort by either strengthening or weakening abdominal muscles, particularly the diaphragm.

For example, this study found that patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who complained of bloating and gas had unusually relaxed oblique abdominal muscles, possibly caused by unusual diaphragm contractions. For people who don’t get bloating, the diaphragm relaxes when their stomach is full, which creates more space in the stomach. For people who do get bloating, the diaphragm contracts, which pushes everything in the stomach into a smaller space, causing the bloating.

Patients can learn to control these muscular responses using a technique called biofeedback, which dramatically helps to resolve the bloating. Specifically, they were told to:

  • Relax the diaphragm
  • Increase the activity of the front abdominal muscles, especially when they breathed out.

If your shoulders always look like this, your diaphragm is probably not very happy with you.

Poor posture comes into this because a slouched or hunched-over posture constricts the movement of the diaphragm and weakens the abdominal muscles. You can see this for yourself if you slump over and then try to do diaphragmatic breathing: it doesn’t work. Sitting and standing correctly, on the other hand, gives your diaphragm space to move properly (here’s a video showing what “correctly” means for diaphragm purposes).

Once again, this is a modern problem – we just aren’t built to slouch around in front of our computers all day. So “good posture” in this case is really just correcting a mismatch between what our bodies are adapted to (holding our torso upright using our own abdominal muscles) and the typical modern pattern (slouching and letting the chair do it for us).

This study backs that up. Gas trapped in the intestines can cause bloating and discomfort; in this study, the researchers found that standing upright with good posture was the best position for passing the gas and getting rid of the discomfort, thanks to the way the upright position triggered gas propulsion in the gut.

The upshot: if you have problems with gas and bloating, practicing good posture can help by keeping your core muscles strong and letting your diaphragm do its thing. Learning to do “belly breathing” or diaphragm breathing might even be able to help you train your diaphragm to relax when your stomach is full, like the patients in the biofeedback study.

Summing it Up

One of the basic concepts of Paleo is that we’re not built to digest certain foods, like grains and legumes. But we’re also not built to digest our food under certain conditions, like constant, chronic stress or computer-focused postures that compress our bodies into weird positions. Digestion doesn’t end when you swallow: paying attention to your posture can pay off further down the road. Taken all together, here’s what the studies above suggest may be helpful:

  • Before you eat, try some quick stretches to release any tension in your body and help get out of “fight or flight” mode if you’re in it. While you eat, pay attention to your body; don’t hunch over your food with your shoulders tensed and body language that says “I’m ready to fight a tiger:” your body might just take it literally! Maybe try lying down or relaxing completely after eating if you’re having a strong reaction to something.
  • Practice sitting and standing with good posture to strengthen your diaphragm and core muscles and prevent bloating. Don’t slump over in your chair all day. In fact, if you can get out of the chair, that’s even better! Maybe try learning diaphragm breathing so you can have even more control over the muscle responses.

Various yoga poses (particularly spinal twists) may also be helpful, although there’s not a lot of scientific evidence for specific poses having specific effects. But if nothing else, yoga is also great for relaxation and reducing stress, and it has shown some benefits for IBS, so it can’t really hurt. So if you’re eating Paleo and it’s not completely helping with your digestion, why not try “sitting Paleo” and “standing Paleo” as well?

Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

The holiday season is upon us, and maybe you’re wondering, “How am I going to digest all this wonderful food?” My colleague Emilia Petrarca, for instance, says that she and her family traditionally lie on the floor after finishing their Thanksgiving dinner. (Petrarca notes that back when her parents were dating, however, and her mother was first exposed to this tradition, “she thought it was really weird and definitely wrong.”) Is anyone else doing this?

Complete digestion — from when the food is consumed to when it leaves the body as waste — normally takes about 53 hours, but it depends on the person and the food and can range from 24 to 72 hours. It takes longer for women than it does for men (47 versus 33 hours in the large intestine), and protein-rich food takes longer than fiber-rich food does. Also, for women in the luteal phase (the second half) of their menstrual cycle, large-intestine digestion can take twice as long as it does otherwise.

Here are some suggestions I like for enhancing this digestive arc.

Digestifs

A digestif is technically any alcoholic drink served after a meal in the name of digestion (e.g., cognac, grappa, sherry, vermouth, sambuca, Jägermeister). Bitter herbal-liqueur digestifs (amaros) contain specifically carminative (i.e., anti-gas) herbs, such as basil, cardamon, fennel, and licorice. Fernet-Branca is a popular brand. Do they work? Sure — anything that tastes bitter is believed to encourage the body to get things moving. (Bitters in sparkling or flat water can also be useful.)

Lying down (or not)

It’s probably best not to lie down immediately after eating (unless it’s a beloved and time-honored family tradition, in which case it’s totally fine). When you do lie down, though (ideally at least three hours after a meal), consider lying on your left side, since that position promotes better digestion by protecting against heartburn and allowing gravity to more efficiently pull waste down through the colon. This is due to the asymmetry of our internal organs.

Taking a walk

There is a general consensus on the value of going for a walk, ideally two hours after finishing a large meal, despite how generally cold and unpleasant it always seems. I wonder if a holiday tradition could be the “group silent walk,” where everyone just enjoys everyone else’s company — in silence. I feel like that could be an asset.

Ginger

Ginger in all forms (including tea) is always helpful, digestion-wise: it encourages saliva flow, stimulates stomach contractions, and promotes gastric emptying.

Water (room temperature, maybe with peppermint)

Green tea and plain old (room temperature) water are also good, in particular for preventing constipation. (Cold and ice water may slow things down a bit, according to Ayurvedic medicine.) Regardless, you might consider adding some peppermint oil to whatever you’re drinking, as it’s also considered a digestive aid, specifically for irritable bowel syndrome.

Yoga

I like these two yoga exercises that I keep seeing mentioned in digestive contexts:

The vajrasana pose (or, the diamond/thunderbolt pose — essentially, kneeling on the ground and sitting upright), which can be done as soon as 5 to 15 minutes after a meal, and which is thought to aid digestion by stimulating the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. As one video guide notes, “It is the only pose that can be done on a full stomach.” Following my Friendsgiving meal this past weekend, I can confirm that this pose is pleasant and feels good. Here’s another video on how to do it.

Also, this hand-yoga position: the pushan mudra (“the gesture of digestion”), which is thought to be associated with the stomach, liver, and gallbladder. According to one nice guide, there are a couple variations on the pushan mudra you may want to try, depending on what you’re trying to prevent (one is for acid reflux and burping, and another is for gas, bloating, and constipation). The gesture can even be done while a meal is happening, and throughout the day, whenever you feel like it. (You could also combine it with the vajrasana.) Here’s a quick video guide, too.

The bhadrasana (“butterfly”) pose is also believed to be good for digestion. It could be useful to cycle through all three of these poses. Or if not strictly useful, then at least a fun conversation starter (or ender).

Well, good luck.

We spoke to the yoga master at The Reynolds Retreat to get some expert advice on how we can use stretching to help our food go down.

1. TWIST (Matsyendrasana in yoga talk)
This move stimulates the digestive fire of the belly and is good for excessive stomach fat.

How to do it…
– Start in a seated position – extend right leg and bend left leg, sole of foot to mat.
– Keeping your back straight, support your body with a straight left arm, and place your palm on the mat, close to your bottom.
– Inhale and raise right arm.
– Exhale and take a twist to the left leading with chin to look over left shoulder bringing right arm to rest on the outside of left leg.
– Hold for three breaths
– With each inhale, lift to find space and with each exhale, move slowly deeper into the twist.
– With a final inhale raise your arm and release the twist. Remember to repeat on the opposte side.

RELATED: 9 WAYS TO HELP EASE IBS

2. SEATED FORWARD BEND (Utkata Pashcimottasana)

Both Seated Forward Fold benefits the digestive system by massaging the abdominal organs and stimulating the entire abdominal and pelvic area, including the liver, pancreas and spleen.

How to do it…
– In seated position, inhale and lift both arms above head.
– Exhale and forward fold, nose to knees. Hold for three breaths.
– Inhale and unfold, stretch arms above head.
– Exhale and release arms back down by sides. Repeat three times.

RELATED: HOW TO STRETCH YOURSELF YOUNGER

3. HEAD TO KNEE POSTURE (Janushirasana)
Benfits your digestions in the same way as above.

How to do it…
– In a seated position, draw in left foot to groin and extend right leg to your side flexing toes towards you.
– Inhale, lift arms above head and rotate from waist towards extended leg.
– Exhale, forward fold and take your nose to the knee of extended leg. Hold for eight seconds.
– Inhale and unfold stretching arms above head and rotate back to centre.
– Exhale and lower arms to side. Repeat on the other side

RELATED: YOGA FOR CARERS

4. BELLOWS POSE (Bhastrikasana)
This pose helps ease constipation, indigestion and rid excess fat.

How to do it…
– In reclined position lying on your back, raise your arms above head on an inhale.
– Exhale and raise your right knee to chest, interlace your fingers together around your shin and hold for three breaths hugging your knee to your chest.
– Exhale and release arms above head and release leg. Repeat three times on both sides.

Is poor digestion cramping your style? Don’t let it go on another day. We’ve got 5 ways to improve your digestion naturally.

If gas, bloating, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea are part of your everyday life, you’re not alone.

In our modern day society digestive problems have become a part of our daily routine. Albeit often an inconvenient, painful or embarrassing one.

We don’t talk about digestive disorders and we rarely seek advice to help such a common problem. The most common problems associated with the digestive tract are diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and heartburn. These can be caused by many things, such as an unhealthy lifestyle, poor nutrition, a food sensitivity or even an infection. And just as there are many causes, there are many ways to help your digestive system work smoothly.

As dietitians we believe that real food (and a healthy lifestyle) is powerful medicine and that with just a few adjustments to what you eat, when you eat and how you eat you can noticeably improve your digestion.

Here are our top 5 ways to improve your digestion naturally:

1. Add probiotics to your life: Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system. These bacteria are microorganisms called “probiotics” which means ‘for life’. These microscopic ‘bugs’ live in your intestines where they produce vitamins and short-chain fatty acids that feed and nurture other beneficial bacteria , are nonpathogenic (non-disease causing) and directly contribute to a healthy gut flora (the community of bacteria in your gut). These bacteria aid in digestion (breaking down the foods you eat), help prevent infection and reduce chronic inflammation. You can get more probiotics by taking a supplement (here’s one of our favorites – use coupon code: realfoodrds10) or eating raw fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.

2. Change your eating habits: The way you eat has a large impact on how your digestive system works. By changing a few of your eating habits you may be able to improve your digestion dramatically. These are some of our favorite non-food digestion hacks:

  • Eat in a relaxed environment and focus on eating. Just eating.
  • Turn off the television and phone so you can fully focus on the food you are eating and the act of eating. Notice how your food looks, tastes, smells and feels in your mouth. This is called being mindful..
  • Try not to eat when you are upset or in a bad mood. Your brain and your digestive tract are interconnected so these feelings can impact the effectiveness of your digestive system.
  • Be sure to chew each mouthful of food thoroughly before swallowing it to lessen the impact on your digestive system. Chewing your food into smaller particles is an essential, but often overlooked, step in digestion. The more you chew your food, the better it will be broken down which will help with the digestive process. This is because breaking down your food mechanically is actually considered to be the first phase of digestion. The smaller the particles the easier the food travels down the esophagus. As you chew your food, saliva is released from glands in your mouth and which then begins the chemical digestion of the food before it even reaches your stomach. Additionally, the presence of saliva triggers the stomach to produce acid and its own digestive enzymes in preparation for the arrival of your meal.
  • The act of chewing is often the most overlooked step in the digestive process but not one to be taken lightly.

3. Stay hydrated: Water is important for digestion! We need water to digest solid food and absorb nutrients properly. Without water, the entire body’s performance decreases which can lead to dehydration and decrease blood pressure which can cause constipation.

  • Drink enough water each day. The average person should aim to consume approximately 80 ounces of water (or other non-caffeinated fluids) each day.
  • But…..you need to drink this water between meals rather than with meals to avoid diluting stomach acid which is vital for optimal digestion.

4. Rejuvenate with a REAL Food Reboot: Excess toxins can be a cause of digestive problems for many people, causing either diarrhea, constipation or in the case of many with IBS – both! Eliminating the foods that create inflammation in your body while replacing them with whole, nourishing and nutrient-dense foods is one of the best ways to reset your digestive and help you troubleshoot what’s really going on in there.

  • Ditch the artificial sweeteners. These have been shown to drastically alter gut bacteria which we already know is a very important part of healthy digestion and overall health.
  • Eat fewer processed foods. These foods tend to be empty calories with little to no nutrient value and are often full of refined sugars, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives that cause harm to your kidneys and liver and are addictive.
  • Eliminate gluten from your diet. Gluten is a common allergen and gut irritant (even for those without gluten allergies like celiac disease).
  • Avoid processed soy. Soy interferes with the absorption of nutrients and causes a hormone imbalance in the body when consumed in large quantities (i.e. as soy protein isolates in processed foods and beverages).

5. Boost your stomach acid. That’s right. Boost it. The truth is that high levels of hydrochloric acid, or ‘stomach acid’, are often not the cause of heartburn as we’ve been lead to believe. In fact, it’s often too little stomach acid that’s to blame. In order for food to be released from the stomach into the small intestine where most of the digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs, food needs to be in a liquid state. So if you don’t chew each mouthful thoroughly and you have low stomach acid that means your stomach needs to do more ‘mechanical’ digesting – or more churning and squeezing, to break the food down. This mechanical digestion takes more time which means food is left in the stomach longer where it can start to ferment, causing pressure to build (read: gas and bloating). What you now have is the perfect storm with regards to heartburn because the increased pressure exerts force on the esophageal sphincter (the muscle that closes the esophagus off from the stomach) making the acid you do have more likely to splash back up into the esophagus. Here are three simple ways to boost stomach acid naturally:

  • Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to the water you drink between meals.
  • Drink 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water before each meal.
  • Chew your food. Chew each mouthful until it is nearly impossible to discern what was in the bite you took. This may mean upwards of 15-20 chews per bite.

The ‘Take Away”

You are not alone. We’ve all experienced digestive problems at one time or another. Some digestive issues are harder than others to troubleshoot and fix, but many of them can be fixed with some simple adjustments to how you eat, when you eat and of course, what you eat.

We can all use better digestion – tell us in the comments what small change you’re going to make right away to improve your digestion and start feeling amazing.

Your Digestive System & How it Works

On this page:

  • What is the digestive system?
  • Why is digestion important?
  • How does my digestive system work?
  • How does food move through my GI tract?
  • How does my digestive system break food into small parts my body can use?
  • What happens to the digested food?
  • How does my body control the digestive process?
  • Clinical Trials

What is the digestive system?

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract—also called the GI tract or digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus. The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs of the digestive system.

The small intestine has three parts. The first part is called the duodenum. The jejunum is in the middle and the ileum is at the end. The large intestine includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. The appendix is a finger-shaped pouch attached to the cecum. The cecum is the first part of the large intestine. The colon is next. The rectum is the end of the large intestine.

The digestive system

Bacteria in your GI tract, also called gut flora or microbiome, help with digestion. Parts of your nervous and circulatory systems also help. Working together, nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood, and the organs of your digestive system digest the foods and liquids you eat or drink each day.

Why is digestion important?

Digestion is important because your body needs nutrients from food and drink to work properly and stay healthy. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water are nutrients. Your digestive system breaks nutrients into parts small enough for your body to absorb and use for energy, growth, and cell repair.

  • Proteins break into amino acids
  • Fats break into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Carbohydrates break into simple sugars

MyPlate offers ideas and tips to help you meet your individual health needs.

Your digestive system breaks nutrients into parts that are small enough for your body to absorb.

How does my digestive system work?

Each part of your digestive system helps to move food and liquid through your GI tract, break food and liquid into smaller parts, or both. Once foods are broken into small enough parts, your body can absorb and move the nutrients to where they are needed. Your large intestine absorbs water, and the waste products of digestion become stool. Nerves and hormones help control the digestive process.

The digestive process

Organ Movement Digestive Juices Added Food Particles Broken Down
Mouth Chewing Saliva Starches, a type of carbohydrate
Esophagus Peristalsis None None
Stomach Upper muscle in stomach relaxes to let food enter, and lower muscle mixes food with digestive juice Stomach acid and digestive enzymes Proteins
Small intestine Peristalsis Small intestine digestive juice Starches, proteins, and carbohydrates
Pancreas None Pancreatic juice Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
Liver None Bile Fats
Large intestine Peristalsis None Bacteria in the large intestine can also break down food.

How does food move through my GI tract?

Food moves through your GI tract by a process called peristalsis. The large, hollow organs of your GI tract contain a layer of muscle that enables their walls to move. The movement pushes food and liquid through your GI tract and mixes the contents within each organ. The muscle behind the food contracts and squeezes the food forward, while the muscle in front of the food relaxes to allow the food to move.

The digestive process starts when you put food in your mouth.

Mouth. Food starts to move through your GI tract when you eat. When you swallow, your tongue pushes the food into your throat. A small flap of tissue, called the epiglottis, folds over your windpipe to prevent choking and the food passes into your esophagus.

Esophagus. Once you begin swallowing, the process becomes automatic. Your brain signals the muscles of the esophagus and peristalsis begins.

Lower esophageal sphincter. When food reaches the end of your esophagus, a ringlike muscle—called the lower esophageal sphincter —relaxes and lets food pass into your stomach. This sphincter usually stays closed to keep what’s in your stomach from flowing back into your esophagus.

Stomach. After food enters your stomach, the stomach muscles mix the food and liquid with digestive juices. The stomach slowly empties its contents, called chyme, into your small intestine.

Small intestine. The muscles of the small intestine mix food with digestive juices from the pancreas, liver, and intestine, and push the mixture forward for further digestion. The walls of the small intestine absorb water and the digested nutrients into your bloodstream. As peristalsis continues, the waste products of the digestive process move into the large intestine.

Large intestine. Waste products from the digestive process include undigested parts of food, fluid, and older cells from the lining of your GI tract. The large intestine absorbs water and changes the waste from liquid into stool. Peristalsis helps move the stool into your rectum.

Rectum. The lower end of your large intestine, the rectum, stores stool until it pushes stool out of your anus during a bowel movement.

Watch this video to see how food moves through your GI tract.

How does my digestive system break food into small parts my body can use?

As food moves through your GI tract, your digestive organs break the food into smaller parts using:

  • motion, such as chewing, squeezing, and mixing
  • digestive juices, such as stomach acid, bile, and enzymes

Mouth. The digestive process starts in your mouth when you chew. Your salivary glands make saliva, a digestive juice, which moistens food so it moves more easily through your esophagus into your stomach. Saliva also has an enzyme that begins to break down starches in your food.

Esophagus. After you swallow, peristalsis pushes the food down your esophagus into your stomach.

Stomach. Glands in your stomach lining make stomach acid and enzymes that break down food. Muscles of your stomach mix the food with these digestive juices.

Pancreas. Your pancreas makes a digestive juice that has enzymes that break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The pancreas delivers the digestive juice to the small intestine through small tubes called ducts.

Liver. Your liver makes a digestive juice called bile that helps digest fats and some vitamins. Bile ducts carry bile from your liver to your gallbladder for storage, or to the small intestine for use.

Gallbladder. Your gallbladder stores bile between meals. When you eat, your gallbladder squeezes bile through the bile ducts into your small intestine.

Small intestine. Your small intestine makes digestive juice, which mixes with bile and pancreatic juice to complete the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Bacteria in your small intestine make some of the enzymes you need to digest carbohydrates. Your small intestine moves water from your bloodstream into your GI tract to help break down food. Your small intestine also absorbs water with other nutrients.

Large intestine. In your large intestine, more water moves from your GI tract into your bloodstream. Bacteria in your large intestine help break down remaining nutrients and make vitamin K. Waste products of digestion, including parts of food that are still too large, become stool.

What happens to the digested food?

The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients in your food, and your circulatory system passes them on to other parts of your body to store or use. Special cells help absorbed nutrients cross the intestinal lining into your bloodstream. Your blood carries simple sugars, amino acids, glycerol, and some vitamins and salts to the liver. Your liver stores, processes, and delivers nutrients to the rest of your body when needed.

The lymph system, a network of vessels that carry white blood cells and a fluid called lymph throughout your body to fight infection, absorbs fatty acids and vitamins.

Your body uses sugars, amino acids, fatty acids, and glycerol to build substances you need for energy, growth, and cell repair.

How does my body control the digestive process?

Your hormones and nerves work together to help control the digestive process. Signals flow within your GI tract and back and forth from your GI tract to your brain.

Hormones

Cells lining your stomach and small intestine make and release hormones that control how your digestive system works. These hormones tell your body when to make digestive juices and send signals to your brain that you are hungry or full. Your pancreas also makes hormones that are important to digestion.

Nerves

You have nerves that connect your central nervous system—your brain and spinal cord—to your digestive system and control some digestive functions. For example, when you see or smell food, your brain sends a signal that causes your salivary glands to “make your mouth water” to prepare you to eat.

You also have an enteric nervous system (ENS)—nerves within the walls of your GI tract. When food stretches the walls of your GI tract, the nerves of your ENS release many different substances that speed up or delay the movement of food and the production of digestive juices. The nerves send signals to control the actions of your gut muscles to contract and relax to push food through your intestines.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

What are clinical trials, and are they right for you?

Watch a video of NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers explaining the importance of participating in clinical trials.

What clinical trials are open?

Clinical trials that are currently open and are recruiting can be viewed at www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

As feasts full of savory and sweet creations find their way to your face this holiday season, let go of guilt and be gracious for the gifts of nourishment and togetherness. Buddha’s full belly represents contentment and plentitude, after all. After the feast, give yourself some time to rub your stomach, then, take a deep breath and turn to your yoga practice to care for your digestive health, a key part of overall well-being and happiness.

These five yoga poses for digestion will help you feel relief after the feast.

Seated Cat-Cow

Great for spine care, this two-pose sequence is a favorite, but it’s also an internal massage that stretches and contracts your abdominals. If those mashed potatoes are sitting in your belly like a lump, be grateful that this two-pose combo will help loosen things up and get them going to their “final destination.”

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Prop yourself up on a blanket to position your spine well; ideally, your hips should be above your knees. Match your Cow Pose (belly moving forward, shoulders back) with the inhale.

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Transition into the exhale and Cat Pose (belly moving backward, shoulders forward), and repeat several times.

Garland Pose

Feeling bloated and gassy is no fun for you, or anyone around you, for that matter. This pose assists you in releasing what needs to come out. (In some cultures this is how women give birth, using gravity to assist the release.) Be grateful your body can help itself to let go, naturally.

Share Tweet Pin Squat with your feet about as wide as your shoulders; if your heels don’t touch the floor, slide a blanket under your heels to support your feet and foundation. Try to lengthen your spine and widen the space across the front of your chest and breathe deeply.

Leg-Binding Pose (Pre-Natal Variation)

In yoga, twists are known to squeeze away toxins and allow digestive organs to soak in fresh blood flow, which helps your digestive functions do their job well. This sage pose version, turning away from the upright bent leg, leaves healthy room for the baby in a pre-natal practice. It could be nice for a temporary “food baby” too. Aren’t we grateful for it all?

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Prop yourself up on blankets to lengthen out of your lower back, especially if your back and hamstrings are tight. It’s best if the foot of the bent knee is fully grounded; the foot of the extended leg can be flexed to support the knee joint.

Wind Relieving Pose

This pose is called “wind relieving” pose and contains the name of a yogic energy, apana, which rules both grounding and downward release. When your right knee presses into your right side body, it massages your ascending colon; the left side takes care of your descending colon. Sometimes we can be really grateful certain ups and downs benefit us completely.

Share Tweet Pin Make sure your floor surface is flat; you can have padding, such as a smooth blanket or mat. Bring your knees in, slightly to the sides of your torso, keeping as much of your spine on the floor as possible.

Related: Digestion Trouble? The Surprising Posture Tip You Need to Know

Reclined Cobbler’s Pose

Laying on your back and opening up the pelvic and abdominal area, you encourage freedom in your digestive and elimination systems. This pose can also relax your mind, which can help your body do its job calmly during a “food coma.” Be grateful we can always give ourselves the support and space we need.

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On your back, you can have padding, such as a blanket or mat; make sure your neck is elongated, not bent backward or forward. With the soles of your feet together, let your knees fall away from each other; place rolled up blankets or pillows evenly under each thigh/knee to let your hips release without strain.

Enjoy the bounty of the season, and take good care to practice self-care!

Photos by Hailey Wist; Outfitted by Athleta

Did you know that Human body’s digestive systems is one of the most important systems of the body? Your Digestive System is responsible for your weight, appetite and everything else. You can improve your Digestive System’s Health & Functioning Simply by Exercising.

How Can Exercising help Your Digestion?

  • Exercise keeps your organs intact and makes it easy for your organs to function.
  • A regular exercise will help your body absorb most of the Nutrients from food.
  • Burns Fat and increases your Appetite.

Want to know what kind of Exercises you MUST do for a Better Digestion of Food. Read Further: –

1. Digestive Breathing

This is one of the most effective old School Techniques to have a healthy digestion. It is quick method to get rid of any discomfort or Digestion related problems.

Procedure: –

  • Sit on a chair in an erect position.
  • Place your hands on your knees. Make sure that your fingers are pointing downwards.
  • Focus on your Breathing. By using your Fingers, Stimulate the meridian of your knees.
  • Inhale and exhale. This will contract and release your stomach muscles.

This is indeed a Quick Therapy for Digestion. Do it for about 5-10 minutes every-day for best results.

2. Abdominal Lift

This is a wonderful exercise for your Stomach Muscles and the entire Digestive System. Will take some time to master but still a simple exercise for you. Before telling you what the procedure is, this exercise is sure to get rid of any stomach problems or pain. It will help you to eat healthy and improve your stomach’s digestive quality!

Procedure: –

  • Stand Upright with your shoulders apart.
  • Bend your knees a little bit and keep your hands on your knees.
  • Exhale while bending. This is the most important step. This gets out the air and refreshes your lungs.
  • Inhale slowly and tighten your stomach muscles. Keep the air inside your lungs for a few seconds whilst keeping your stomach tight.
  • Exhale the air and continue up to 10 times a day.

3. Talk & Walk after a Meal

A very simple and basic way of improvising your Digestion. For years, people love to talk after a good meal. Combine that with walking and you are on a very healthy road! It is important that you walk for at least 15-20 minutes after a meal. This will: –

  • Help process the food.
  • Extract complete nutrients from the food you eat.
  • Enhance Digestion.

4. Yoga

No wonder is Yoga on our List of Exercises for improving Digestion. Yoga has numerous benefits and primary benefits being digestion improvement and other perks. If you are not able to dedicate time for yourself and indulge in Yoga, enroll yourself to a Yoga Class. This will help you follow a routine and take the benefits of Yoga.

A daily dose of yoga works your muscles really well and it will help you to have a Healthy Digestive System.

Bottom Line: We have found that the root cause of a lot of health problems is being inactive daily. This causes a lot of complications and by doing the above mentioned (Practically Easy) exercises, you can overcome these problems.

Stay tuned for our next Article on “Health Benefits of Yoga” to unleash more knowledge. If you like our Articles, please hit the like Button in our Facebook Page. Happy Reading!

We know that regular exercise is good for our overall health, but did you know that includes digestive health as well?

While nutrition has much to do with it, exercise and, more generally, being active, also plays a huge role in how well our digestive systems function.

How exercise affects digestive function

Over time, regular exercise helps strengthen the digestive tract and keep the gut healthy. Evidence suggests that regular exercise has other benefits for the digestive system including enhancing the microbiota found in the gut and reducing the risk of colon cancer. Conversely, as you become less active, your intestinal flow tends to slow down.

Physical activity can also have short-term benefits for our digestion. Exercising increases blood flow towards the muscles and digestive tract, which can help move food through the digestive tract. Exercise has also been shown to alleviate heartburn, gas, stomach cramps and constipation.

When and what to eat before exercising

For the most part, exercise is beneficial to digestive health, however too much exercise or improperly timed exercise with eating can have negative effects on digestion.

For example, if you’ve just eaten a meal before a workout, you can experience gastrointestinal problems such as upset stomach, abdominal pain, heartburn, bloating and constipation. This is especially true if you’ve eaten a meal high in fats and proteins. When you eat, the blood flow around your stomach and intestines increases to help your body digest the food. Therefore, if you start exercising without giving your body enough time to digest the food, most of the blood will be pulled back from your stomach to your heart and other muscles.

Give yourself at least 1-2 hours to digest before intense exercise and 2-3 hours if you’ve eaten a meal high in fats and proteins. If you need to eat closer to a workout, try to eat easily digestible foods like those high in carbohydrates and low in fats. Bananas, toast and oats are all good options. Also, be sure to keep yourself hydrated while exercising, as dehydration is a leading cause of gastrointestinal issues.

Exercises that pump up digestion

Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling and swimming, are excellent ways to improve gut health because they increase blood flow to the organs, including the gastrointestinal tract. This results in stronger intestinal contractions and more digestive enzymes.

If you’re unable to perform aerobic exercises, the good news is that there are other less-demanding ways to improve your gut health, as even less strenuous exercises help with digestive health.

Certain types of abdominal stretches and yoga poses can help increase blood flow to the digestive system and can strengthen muscles, which has been proven to help promote digestion. Activities such as walking can support digestive health (and, yes, those walks after a large meal do help improve your digestion).

If you’ve experienced digestive health issues and would like to learn more about building an exercise plan that can help, please reach out to your Copeman kinesiologist.

How Exercise Helps with Digestive Health

A strong digestive system is essential for your health. If your food is not digested properly it could lead to a number of health issues. Some of these include heartburn, gastro intestinal problems, constipation and acidity.

To ensure a healthy digestive system it’s important to adapt a healthy lifestyle. This includes, exercise and good eating habits.

Live Strong explains, “according to the BBC exercise slows down the digestion system in order to conserve energy for the muscles. The Gastroenterological Society of Australia says cardiovascular exercise strengthens the muscles of the abdomen and stimulates the intestinal muscles to move contents through the digestive system.”

Exercise has been shown to rid problems of heartburn, gas, stomach cramps and constipation.

Exercise helps push digestive waste through your body

Aleksandr Markin/

It raises your heart rate which reduces intestinal sluggishness by stimulating your muscles. This helps push digestive waste through your body (Enzymatic Therapy).

Yoga

ifong/

There are some yoga poses that actually help increase blood flow to the digestive system. The strengthening and stretching of your muscles has been proven to help promote digestion. Mild Body Green says, twists are one of the best yoga poses for digestion. They explain, “most twists directly affect the area below the ribcage where most digestion happens. Twists squeeze your body’s most important detox player, the liver, hastening an inner cleanup of all the junk we consume.” Also, make sure while doing a twist to focus on your breath. Don’t rush out of the pose; spend at least 8-10 breaths on each side.

Aerobic Exercise

Uber Images/

According to research, aerobic exercise is said to increase blood flow to our organs and bring more blood to the gastrointestinal tract. This results in stronger intestinal contractions and more digestive enzymes.

Breathing

There are certain breathing exercises you can practice to ensure healthy digestion. For instance, while exercising practice deep breathing. It has been shown to help eliminate toxins from the body.

More Readings

How Stress Can Cause Digestive Problems

6 Simple Steps to Better Digestive Health

The Best Detox Teas

How Does Exercise Affect Your Digestive System? Ameya C Hyderabd040-395603080 January 13, 2020

Do you often suffer from digestive problems like gas or constipation? Have you wondered what can actually help you with your stomach ailments? Many a time we pay no heed to what we eat and how we live, that our digestive system gets affected.

But then, did you know regular exercise can make your digestive system healthy? Apart from that, there are other effects of exercise on the digestive system which are beneficial! Want to know more? Then read on!

The Digestive System:

The digestive system is more complex than what they show us in television advertisements for antacids or painkillers. It includes feet of winding intestine, the bowels and your stomach. The digestive system helps break down food and passes nutrients to most parts of the body. It also helps allot how much energy your body will be provided. Our lifestyle, diet and work culture can have many adverse effects on the digestive system, which can trigger complications or even inefficiency in this intricate system (1).

Many relaxation techniques, physical activities and exercises have been known to help your body absorb essential nutrients more effectively. Exercise can indeed help the digestive system (2), and following are the ways that show how.

Top 2 Effects Of Exercise On Digestive System:

1. Boosts Blood Circulation:

Exercise helps improve the blood flow in your body, which also includes the digestive system. You should remember to keep your body in motion by exercising regularly. This will help digestion, as it ensures that the digestive tract is not lazy and is kept in motion. You should consider exercising regularly to beat a slow digestive system. Exercise can also help rid you of problems like gas, heartburn, constipation and stomach cramps. As it boosts blood circulation, exercise is also good for the heart, blood pressure and other arterial conditions (3).

2. Provides A Digestive Routine:

Although exercise is crucial to digestive health, you cannot play down the importance of proper food with regard to your digestive health. Remember to eat more fat-free and high-fiber foods that are rich in essential nutrients. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots and spices like garlic, ginger and others are effective digestives that are especially healthy, if you combine them with a proper routine. It is often more important to give your body the time to digest rather than simply reduce your portions. Also, if you tend to drink less than 2 bottles of water every day, drink more of it. Exercise usually saps water from the body, and sweating can eliminate the water needed for proper digestion. This can lead to complications, and you need to ensure that your digestive system is functioning well. Exercise can thus help you determine a proper digestive routine (4).

Yoga For Digestion

One of the best exercises for digestion, yoga is a low energy exercise which focuses on strengthening and stretching your muscles to help promote digestion. One of the best poses for digestion is the camel pose.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana):

The camel pose is very good for digestion and the bowels and is also a great exercise for the back. It appears to be difficult to do, and it has been rumored to adversely affect the back. However, studies proved that Ustrasana not only strengthens the back muscles, but also eases stomach problems and aids digestion (5).

Caution:

Although moderate, routinely performed and light exercises like yoga boost digestive health, know your limits. Don’t overexert your body today just because you missed yesterday’s session. Remember that this is a gradual exercise and the results will not be experienced immediately.

Don’t train on a full stomach; it can lead to many complications like breathlessness, nausea, vomiting and even light-headedness. If you have had a rather filling meal, take a walk or perform some basic digestive yoga poses. Walking is one exercise that is not heavy on the body and gets the job done, i.e. improves digestion (6).

So are you ready to delve into these effects of exercise on digestive system? We hope that we have been able to highlight how exercise helps the digestive process. Have you experienced any other effect of exercise on digestive system? Share with us here. Leave a comment below.

Recommended Articles:

  • 10 Effective Home Remedies To Treat Digestive Problems
  • Top 10 Yoga Asanas For Better Digestion
  • 10 Effective Yoga Asanas To Stimulate Your Nervous System
  • The 10 Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements
  • 10 Healthy Foods For Good Digestion

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Ameya C

Writer, dreamer, artist. I am passionate about knowledge.

Do you want to know how to speed up digestion? These 13 tips will help you do just that plus improve your metabolism in the process.

RELATED: 2 Steps To Improving The Quality Of Your Digestion

In this article:

  1. How Your Eating Habits Make You Sleepy and Tired
  2. How to Speed Up Metabolism with These 13 Tips
    1. Add Lots of Fiber to Your Diet
    2. Get More Probiotics in Your System
    3. Eat More Prebiotics
    4. Drink Plenty of Water
    5. Reduce Fat and Sugar in Your Diet
    6. Try Eating Several Small Meals Per Day If Large Meals Give You Heartburn or Acid Reflux
    7. Eat Lean Proteins, Such as Fish and Lean Cuts of Meat
    8. Exercise for at Least 30 Minutes Every Day
    9. Avoid the Consumption of Cigarettes and Alcohol
    10. Rebuild Your Gut with a Detox
    11. When Hungry, Drink Water First
    12. Know the Condition of Your Gut
    13. Eat Your Food Slowly

13 Tips on How to Speed Up Digestion by Tweaking Your Habits

How Your Eating Habits Make You Sleepy and Tired

Here’s why you need to learn how to speed up digestion and metabolism: food comas are no joke! They can be especially dangerous in the workplace.

Known as post-prandial somnolence (fancy, huh?) to the medical world, a food coma is defined as a normal state of drowsiness following a meal.

To break this concept down further, think of it as a series of chain reactions. When you consume food, your body goes into a general state of low energy. By this time, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated as a reaction to the increase of mass in your gastrointestinal tract.

What is the parasympathetic nervous system? It is the part of the nervous system that inhibits energy or helps to relax you.

This then leads to a specific state of sleepiness caused by hormonal and neurochemical changes related to the rate at which glucose enters your bloodstream and the downstream effects it has on the transport of amino acid in the central nervous system.

In other words, your energy is being diverted to aid in digestion, so “non-essential” functions such as exercise and muscle exertion are placed on the backburner.

As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the meal, the harder it will be for you to stay awake! When you eat a lot at once, your parasympathetic nervous system ends up shifting more of its energy to help with digestion.

What you eat also matters. When you consume foods loaded with fat and sugar, they are quickly broken down into glucose (the simplest form of sugar).

Your body uses glucose for fuel, and this increase will cause a spike in your bloodstream. To counteract this surge in blood sugar, your body then releases more insulin to clean up the excess glucose.

However, the increase in insulin causes your brain to produce more serotonin and melatonin, which are neurochemicals that make you feel sleepy.

How to Speed Up Metabolism with These 13 Tips

If you’re concerned about feeling sleepy after eating, we have some tips that can help you improve your digestion and overall gut health. These can teach you how to speed up digestion naturally.

1. Add Lots of Fiber to Your Diet

A woman smiles while eating vegetables and a salad.Fiber is the number one recommended treatment for digestive problems. Try adding beans, seeds, and fruits and vegetables until at least 75% of your diet consists of these foods.

2. Get More Probiotics in Your System

Probiotics are living microorganisms similar to the beneficial ones naturally present in your gut. You can get probiotic microorganisms from consuming foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi.

Besides fermented foods, other options include yogurt and apple cider vinegar.

3. Eat More Prebiotics

They are found in some greens, onions, garlic, artichokes, bananas, etc. Prebiotics are a type of helpful bacteria similar to probiotics.

Studies have shown that a lack of fiber can lead to an overabundance of harmful gut bacteria. Prebiotics promote the growth and proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract and increase the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

The combination of high fiber and water will increase the efficiency of your digestion. Most doctors recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses per day.

Feel free to experiment with this amount to see if your body requires more water than what’s recommended. People who exercise regularly should increase their water consumption.

For example, they may want to consume an extra 16 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of intensive cardiovascular exercise.

5. Reduce Fat and Sugar in Your Diet

Not only can these substances cause stomachaches in high quantities, but they also slow digestion and cause constipation. One way to ensure you are reducing fats and sugars is to consume less processed foods since they tend to contain hidden chemicals and higher amounts of sugar.

6. Try Eating Several Small Meals Per Day If Large Meals Give You Heartburn or Acid Reflux

What is acid reflux? Also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), it is a condition wherein the digestive juices from the stomach rise to the esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes.

Your body is better at digesting smaller quantities at a time. After you figure out the amount of food that works well per meal, try to keep a regular schedule that your body can easily adjust to.

7. Eat Lean Proteins, Such as Fish and Lean Cuts of Meat

Proteins are essential for maintaining healthy muscles, but lean cuts are less likely to cause heartburn and will be quicker to digest. In general, high-fat foods take longer to digest than low-fat foods.

RELATED: 15 Foods For Healthy Digestion

8. Exercise for at Least 30 Minutes Every Day

A woman working out in her home.What is good for the entire body is good for the digestive system. Exercise and movement help food move through your system and aid in weight loss, which can also help digestion.

9. Avoid the Consumption of Cigarettes and Alcohol

The chemicals inside these substances can cause nausea, and they can also undermine the benefits of good diet choices. Caffeine may also cause an increase in acidity in the stomach that can lead to high levels of heartburn and acid reflux.

10. Rebuild Your Gut with a Detox

Detoxing is not just a fad! Although it has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues recently, detoxing is a great way to clean up your diet, gut, and eating.

A great way to start is with Well.Org’s organic detox kit including Alkalizing Greens, which is a potent blend of super greens.

These super greens are a rich source of dietary fiber (such as insoluble fiber) and plant-based protein, which are foods that speed up digestion.

It also doesn’t only aid digestion. It can also reduce the risk of chronic inflammation, a condition that may lead to all sorts of digestive symptoms including poor nutrient absorption.

11. When Hungry, Drink Water First

A woman drinks a glass of water.If you want to know how to speed up metabolism to lose weight, you start with drinking water.

Water promotes healthy bowel movements since the colon absorbs water to move the poop out, but it is also helpful for another reason. It turns out people can’t easily distinguish between hunger and thirst.

It occurs when the cues are so subtle you cannot immediately tell the difference. In some cases, the symptoms of hunger and thirst, such as a grumbling stomach and headaches, are similar.

In fact, in one study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, there’s an association between inadequate hydration and body mass index (BMI).

When you feel “hungry,” try drinking water first and wait for about 30 minutes. If you’re still feeling the pang, go grab some food.

12. Know the Condition of Your Gut

You will better know the foods that speed up your metabolism by knowing how your gut is doing.

  • If you have Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, you may want to avoid a high-fiber diet, especially when it’s insoluble fiber.
  • If you are suffering from irritation of the intestines and stomach, aloe vera may be beneficial as it helps break down enzymes such as fats and sugar.
  • Ginger tea can be helpful for people with stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), according to 2013 research.
  • If you are lactose intolerant or sensitive, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive issues after consuming dairy products. You may want to avoid the likes of cheese and milk.

Tip: If you miss consuming dairy, opt for milk kefir. The process tames down casein, which is an active ingredient found in dairy.

13. Eat Your Food Slowly

Sometimes, you learn how to speed up digestion by doing something opposite, which is eating slowly.

To understand it better, you need to have some idea of how digestion works. The digestive organs work in two ways:

  • Mechanical digestion
  • Chemical digestion

Mechanical digestion refers to the movements that allow food to travel from the mouth to the anus. These include the involuntary contraction and relaxation of organs such as stomach and intestines called peristalsis.

Chewing is also another example of mechanical digestion, but when food comes into contact, with saliva, chemical digestion begins.

This digestive process involves the breakdown of food by the secretion of enzymes, so it’s easier to digest. Most of all, the gut finds it easier to extract the nutrients and distribute it to the bloodstream.

Your body needs about 24 to 72 hours to complete the entire digestive process, depending on the food you eat. If you don’t slow down, you’re adding more burden to your digestive organs.

Worse, it takes a while before your body recognizes it’s full, so if you eat fast, you end up consuming more. A 2017 study in Circulation revealed it may increase the risk of metabolic syndromes such as heart disease.

Download or share this infographic for reference.

You have the power to help heal your gut, improve your metabolism, and learn how to speed up digestion and elimination. These tips will help you get started and guide you through the right path to better gut health.

Do you have more tips on how to speed up digestion? Share them in the comments section below!

Up Next:

  • How A Balanced Microbiome Promotes Higher Energy Levels
  • 9 Ways To Have A Balanced Microbiome
  • 8 Secrets To Cure Hypothyroidism

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 14, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Get the FREE VITALITY RESOURCE GUIDE RECIPES, workouts, sleep tips, and much more.

7 Superfoods That Help Digestion

The digestion process is an intricately choreographed ballet during which your body performs the many steps needed to break down the food you eat and unlock the vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, and proteins you need — and then efficiently clean sweep the rest. Most people don’t contemplate these inner workings unless they’re not going smoothly, but you can proactively take steps to avoid problems. One of the easiest digestive health tips is to fuel up with foods good for digestion.

Digestion is the process your body uses to break down food into nutrients. The body uses the nutrients from food for energy, growth, and cellular repair. But when your digestive process goes awry, whether from overeating or eating foods that disagree with you, you need to review the rules of good nutrition again.

The U.S. federal guidelines on diet suggest that all Americans age 2 and older eat a variety of healthy foods, balancing calories ingested with physical activity. Suggested foods include:

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, and whole grains
  • Lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, soy products, and eggs

But what if foods such as dairy cause digestion issues? If you can’t tolerate the lactose in dairy, try lactose-free products. Lactose is simply the sugar in dairy products that causes GI pain in some people. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition, called lactose malabsorption, is generally harmless, but you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach upset

If you are lactose intolerant, consider nondairy alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. If a change to nondairy products does not relieve your GI distress, talk to your doctor. There is help.

Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that we need to stay regular. While fiber itself is not digested by our GI enzymes, we must eat fiber-rich foods because they absorb water in the intestines, ease bowel movements, and promote the healthy gut bacteria we need for proper digestion. Are you meeting the recommended fiber requirements?

The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women get 25 grams of daily fiber and men get 38 grams. This can be done by decreasing your intake of foods high in fat and sugar and increasing your consumption of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

Along with that recommendation, eating a diet low in saturated fat and high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds provides excellent sources of foods to help digestion. This type of plant-based diet aids in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improving blood sugar control.

High-fiber foods include:

  • Apple with skin
  • Artichokes
  • Baked beans
  • Barley
  • Black beans
  • Bran flakes
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Green peas
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Pear with skin
  • Raspberries
  • Split peas
  • Turnip greens
  • Whole wheat spaghetti

And there are more delicious foods good for digestion. Put the following superfoods on your plate and discover how with a little ingenuity, staying “regular” can be delicious.

Best Foods for Digestion

Choose Fiber-Filled Foods

Fiber helps aid in digestion by forming bulk in the stomach and stools, keeping waste moving through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and speeding up digestion. Recommendations advise men and women to consume 38 and 25 grams of fiber per day, respectively. Fiber is found in plant-based foods and mostly found in whole grains, fruits and veggies, and, including the following high-fiber foods:

  1. Oats

Oats are considered a whole grain, supplying fiber, vitamins, and minerals refined and processed flours mostly lack. In fact, that morning staple burst with fiber, supplying four grams of cup per one cup cooked. From blueberry almond to coconut cream pie, transform oats into one of these delicious and nutritious overnight oatmeal recipes!

  1. Popcorn

Snack without all the guilt! Supplying 93 calories and three grams of fiber for a whopping three cups, air-popped popcorn is a beneficial whole grain to speed up digestion. The fiber mostly found in popcorn is insoluble, remains in its whole form, bulks stools, and promotes regularity. Including oats and popcorn, additional whole grain sources include barley, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, rye, and wheat.

  1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are much more than the filler in the old-school chia pets… The tapioca-textured seeds have shown to be highly beneficial to health, mostly related to its unique supply of mucilage, a type of viscous and gelatinous fiber extracted from plant roots and seeds.

  1. Beans

Beans are notoriously known for their fiber content, supplying an average of 15 grams per cup! They are also a plant-based protein sources, making their use valuable for individuals following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Beans are extremely versatile, including their use in soups, chili, tacos, casseroles, and rice dishes.

  1. Bananas

Though apples continue to be advertised to keep the doctor away, bananas can help improve digestion related to its fiber and potassium content. Potassium, an electrolyte, helps keep the muscle in the gastrointestinal tract moving while the fiber it supplies offers bulk and may promote a healthy gut.

  1. Water

Although not filled with fiber or technically even a food for that matter, water is imperative to keep fiber working efficiently and reducing the risk of constipation. General recommendations encourage healthy adults to drink a minimum of eight, 8-ounces glasses of water per day. Unsweetened coffee and tea can also contribute to healthful fluid intake, though their intake is encouraged to be limited to 400 milligrams per day.

Be Pro for Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria cultures that supports gut health by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Common probiotics include lactobacillus and bifidobacteria and require the support of prebiotics, or carbohydrates than cannot be digested and act as food for probiotics. Common probiotics include:

  1. Yogurt

Yogurt is basically fermented milk, undergoing the fermentation process with its natural carbohydrate source (lactose) and added bacteria (including lactobacilli and bifidobacteria). Greek yogurt is also extremely versatile, including its use in Greek yogurt coleslaw, cranberry Greek yogurt bark, and maple cranberry yogurt parfaits and offers these benefits, even beyond digestion!

  1. Kombucha

Kombucha is essentially a sweet tea fermented with yeast and bacteria cultures. A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), also known as a “kombucha mushroom” prompts its health benefits, including digestive health. If the craze of kombucha intrigues you, here’s what to look for when buying it.

  1. Kefir

Similar to kombucha, kefir is produced with a SCOBY, ultimately supplying its rich healthy bacteria for improving digestion. The fermented milk drink has been used to relieve a wide variety of intestinal disorders and helps reduce flatulence and bloating.

Complement the Diet with Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices not only transform bland foods into tasty creations, but offer various health benefits. The following have shown to support good digestion:

  1. Ginger

The pungent and spicy flavor of ginger often compliments Chinese cuisine, though it also presents with a long health history. In fact, ginger has shown to help digestion and relieve nausea, with studies further demonstrating taking ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.

  1. Mint

The use of mint for health and GI symptoms has been around for hundreds of years, as it helps stimulate GI muscles and allows painful digestive gas to pass. The muscle relaxation also allows food to move down the GI tract with more comfort and efficiency, even showing to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic condition that affects the large intestine and may cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating and gas. However, indigestion symptoms related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should not be treated with peppermint, as its use can exacerbate painful symptoms.

  1. Chamomile

Sipping on chamomile has been praised for the healthful benefits it offers, including it use in digestive complications. The herbed tea may improve gas, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, as well as motion sickness. Anti-inflammatory characteristics have further demonstrated the effectiveness of chamomile and gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders, including diverticular and inflammatory diseases.