When you eat foods such as meat, beans and pasta, the digestion process extracts nutrients from these foods. Digestion breaks down the food and drink you consume into smaller particles so that the nutrients are absorbed into your blood and transported to your cells and organs. Exercises such as walking or deep breathing can help improve blood flow, which helps speed up the digestive process. Depending on what you eat, exercise may help aid in the process of digestion.
Certain yoga poses can help speed up your digestive process. For example, the Reclining Spinal Twist pose can help you food pass through your intestines faster. Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep them hip-width apart. Take your right foot and place it over your left knee. Twist your body leftward as far as you can until your right foot in resting on the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds then relax.
If yoga isn’t your cup of tea, a simple deep breathing session can help your lunch sail through your digestive system faster. Deep breathing raises your blood oxygen level, which stimulates your digestive process. Sit up straight and breathe in deep and slowly through your belly. You should be able to feel your belly expanding and contracting as you breathe in and out. Perform this for about three to four minutes.
Exercise improves blood flow throughout your body and this can help improve your bowel movements. A short walk speeds the rate at which food moves through the stomach. According to several studies published in the New York Times, a brief walk improves blood sugar control and digestion. In one study conducted in 2008, German researchers studied the effect of people who ate a large meal and consumed an alcohol digestive, such as brandy, versus those who went for a brief walk after a large meal. They found that those who went for a walk had food move through the stomach faster, while the alcoholic beverage had no effect. Aim to walk for about 15 to 20 minutes after eating to quicken your digestive process.
Exercising too rigorously right after eating may cause constipation. According to WebMD, intense exercise after eating causes blood flow toward your heart and muscles instead of your stomach and intestines. Therefore stick to a light walk or wait at least two hours after eating before performing moderate to intense exercise.
- New York Times: Really? The Claim: Taking a Walk After a Meal Aids Digestion
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Your Digestive System and How It Works
- Hatha Yoga Illustrated; Martin Kirt, et al.
- University of North Texas Human Resources Department: Digestive Health
- WebMD: Exercise to Ease Constipation
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