Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, GERD…these are not pretty words, but in todays busy world doctors are seeing more patients with these stomach ailments. Stress, unhealthy eating habits, dehydration, and lack of exercise all affect our body’s ability to digest food. Try some of these simple tips to help heal your tummy.

1. Walk After A Meal. Have you ever had a time when you felt sluggish and tired after consuming a big meal? One of the best things you can do is go for a walk. Walking aids digestion even if you only have time for a 5-10 minute walk. Practice deep relaxing breaths as you walk. This will help relieve stress so your body can focus its energy on the digestive process. This should be a light to moderately paced walk. Save the brisk walking for a time when you don’t have a full stomach (preferably and hour or two after eating).
2. Keep Your Core Strong! Your core consists of your abdominal, spine, hips/pelvis muscles. Keeping this area strong not only helps with digestion and posture, it also helps prevent injuries due to physical activity. Here are a couple of examples of core exercises: The Bicycle = Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your back pressed into the floor. Place your fingertips lightly behind your head (don’t interlace). Lift head and shoulders as you perform a diagonal crunch while reaching your right elbow toward your left knee. Alternate sides as you pedal your legs. Think opposite elbow to knee and make sure you are not pulling on your head. Imagine a string pulling tight from your bellybutton through the top of your head as you keep your stomach tight. Don’t hold your breath! The Cross Crawl = In the table position (hands and knees) extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Hold for 2 - 4 seconds then, switch sides. As you continue to alternate sides think of elongating your limbs with each rep. Make sure you keep your neck in a neutral position (in line with your spine). Exhale on the reach part of the exercise. There are several core exercises. Find them online, take a class, or ask a personal trainer.
3. Practice Good Posture. When your mother told you to “sit up straight” there was more to it besides the fact she didn’t want you to slouch. The way you sit or stand affects your internal organs and how they function. Slouching causes the abdominal muscles to relax and become lazy. Your organs become squished together hindering blood flow patterns. Slouching while eating or laying down right after you’ve eaten a meal can cause stress on the stomach and result in problems like indigestion or acid reflux. Practicing good posture improves circulation, digestion, and waste elimination. Sit close to the table in a good supportive chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees level with your hips. Bring your utensil to your mouth instead of leaning your head forward toward your utensil.
4. Slow Down When You Eat. This will not only help with digestion, but also with weight loss. It takes 20-minutes for your brain to recognize you are full. Try this tip to help slow you down. Place your fork on your plate after each bite then try to chew each bite thoroughly. Treat each bite like it’s delicacy and truly enjoy it! Digestion actually begins with the process of chewing. If you take your time eating you’ll feel much better than if you had just wolfed down a meal in less than 5-minutes resulting in the “rock in the gut” feeling. Also, try not to wait until you are famished to eat. Waiting too long could result in the inability to eat slowly and cause overeating.
5. Practice healthy eating habits. Make sure you drink enough water. Drink half of what you weigh (in pounds) in ounces of water a day (unless otherwise directed by your physician). Consume 25 – 30 grams of fiber a day. Getting in your five fruits/veggies a day and eating 100% whole grains will help with fiber intake. Think about what you are eating. Is it good for your body? Will your body use it for fuel or are you feeding it junk that will make it sluggish? Once you make the switch to healthier eating habits the cliché “you are what you eat” will really make sense. You will feel so good you won’t want to return to your unhealthy habits!
By making a few simple changes with diet, posture, and exercise you can improve your digestion and relieve stomach discomfort. Taking better care of yourself will enhance your overall health. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Start today!

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Stoll is a certified personal trainer with over 19 years of experience specializing in exercise program development for women. She travels to your home/office to make exercise as convenient as possible. Wendy can be reached at (517) 327-1992,,