Digestion isn't just input and output. All the hollow spaces food goes (the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines) are called hollow organs and guess what- each one is muscular!
They can expand (think of your belly after a holiday meal) and they can shrink back to normal.
This takes muscle control, so exercise #1 is:
Let Your Digestion Empty Completely
This doesn't have to be fancy- for example, a light and easily digestible dinner that's over by 7pm like a hearty soup, then nothing till at least 7am the next day.
Give your digestive organs a break, and a chance to change sizes. Give the lymph fluid and connective tissue around your organs some space, and some fresh blood flow. And give all the tissues a chance to heal: the GI tract really has a lot of constant damage to repair, so a pause gives all this a chance to happen.
Practice Gentle, Full ROM Bends and Twists
ROM= Range of Motion
This could be yoga moves. This could be spine twists on the floor. This could be backbends supported by a door frame. This could be toe touches, no bouncing!
There are so many ways to deliberately and fully twist and bend to stretch our insides, just do it smoothly and without holding your breath.
In addition to full Ranges of Motion, we also need full Ranges of Flavors! Tip #4 is:
Taste Your Bitters
The bitter taste is an amazing actor in our bodies- not only do our tongues taste bitter, but we have those same bitter taste receptors in all kinds of other body tissues too (like our lungs and kidneys). When we TASTE bitter, all sorts of things happen all over the body.
Specifically regarding digestion::
- Smooth muscles relaxes, so there's less tension in the gut
- Digestive juices like saliva and bile are stimulated
- Peristalsis (movement of the intestines) is stimulated
- Sweet cravings are often diminished
- Circulation is stimulated, improving digestion, metabolism, and healing of inflammation
- and more!
You can find alcohol-based bitters 3 main ways.
- In little bottles at the liquor store, like Angostura, Peychaud's, and many small batch brands
- In big bottles at the liquor store, like Campari, Aperol, Fernet Branca, and again, many artisan brands
- In little bottles at the health food store, like Swedish Bitters, Urban Moonshine brand, and many small herbal makers brands
Food based bitters include liquids like Coffee and greens like Dandelion, Escarole, and Radicchio, as well as Chocolate and Cacao nibs.
Dandelion root, Artichoke leaf, Bitter Orange peel, Gentian, Blue Vervain, Angelica, and Horehound are all bitter herbs you may see on some ingredient lists as well.
Practice these 4 exercises for your Digestive System, and let me know how you're feeling! And Learn more about exercising your insides and outsides, for structural and systemic health, in my Foot to Forehead Fix program.