3 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Digestion


Stress is a common underlying factor in chronic indigestion. That’s because feeling frazzled can decrease stomach acid and suppress digestion. The solution: Naturopathic tricks that curb tension—and your tummy troubles.

Add a supplement: With every meal, take digestive enzymes containing HCl (hydrochloric acid), a naturally occurring compound that helps the body break down food. Probiotics can also help balance gut flora and proper digestion. Look for one with at least two strains.

Sip ACV: Low stomach acid is a big causes of gas pain. Apple cider vinegar introduces more acid into your gut, which can kick-start digestion, relieve feelings of fullness, and reduce gas pain by gut. Take 1-2 tablespoons diluted with a similar amount of water before a meal.

Try herbs: Slippery elm and marshmallow root are demulcents; they coat and soothe the stomach lining to ease indigestion. Mint relieves gas and bloating. Brew a tea with these herbs and drink it during or after meals.

Aloe juice can tamp down inflammation by acting as an antioxidant. Look for products that contain only aloe gel. Aloe latex or whole-leaf extract may cause diarrhea or cramps.

TRICIA PINGEL, NMD, a naturopathic physician based in Scottsdale, Arizona


Yoga can soothe discomfort when you’re feeling bloated or gassy. Your asana practice can also help keep you regular because it incorporates movement and breathing, both of which are crucial for healthy digestion. Yoga also nurtures a mind-body connection that may help you to make more mindful choices about how, when, and what you eat. Start with the gentle restorative poses below. And don’t forget to practice kshama—being patient and forgiving to avoid adding self-judgment and frustration to your symptoms.

Side-lying Savasana: For indigestion or excessive fullness, lie on your left side. Use pillows under your head to keep your neck and spine aligned and place a bolster or pillow between your legs. Breathe through your nose, gradually slowing your breath and feeling your lower ribs and upper abdomen expand.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) or Supported Reclining Pose: These postures beat bloat by creating space and openness in the abdomen. Use blocks, folded blankets, or pillows to prop and support your body. Breathe gently in and out through your nose to soothe the nervous system.

KERRY MAIORCA, E-RYT 500, RPYT, chair of the Yoga Alliance board


When it comes to digestion, how you eat matters as much as what you eat. Your goal: Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Here’s how:

Slow down: Eating too quickly—usually because you are rushed or ravenous from going too long without food—is a common cause of indigestion. Chewing your meals thoroughly gives your body time to digest them.

Burst the bubbles: The tiny air bubbles in seltzer, sparkling water, and other fizzy drinks can end up in your abdomen, leaving you feeling gassy and uncomfortably full. Ditto chewing gum and smoking, so consider avoiding them.

Know your triggers: The human digestive system is super-individualized—one person can’t drink dairy; another can’t eat tomatoes. But some foods tend to be harder for everyone to digest: cow’s milk products, onions, garlic, wheat (gluten), soy, caffeine, alcohol, corn, and eggs. Note how you feel after eating these foods; avoiding them may eliminate discomfort.

Skip the “trifecta”: Avoid foods that are spicy, greasy, and high fat. Opt for one of the three. If it’s spicy, don’t fry it. If it’s high in fat, let it be mild.

AMY KIMBERLAIN, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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