By Lindsay Cohn
Stomach trouble can throw your whole day (and night) out of whack. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have some fast, easy ways to keep your digestion humming along, so you can enjoy all-day energy and vitality? We tapped experts who shared some surprising—and surprisingly simple—ways to avoid gas, bloating, irregularity and other downers.
Sure, yoga relaxes you, builds your strength, and improves your mobility. All good reasons to do it—but certain postures also can soothe your stomach and boost digestion. Here are a few to try:
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Start lying down on your stomach, bend your knees and hold your ankles. Inhale as you kick the feet into the hands, extending the chest upwards. Use the breath to move forward and back. “The rocking motion stimulates the digestive tract, improving the function of the large and small intestine,” says yoga instructor Kylan Fischer.
Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)
Begin lying on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest. Use your left hand to guide your bent knee to the floor. Stay here for at least five breaths—the longer you hold it, the deeper the benefits—then repeat on the other side. Twists are excellent for wringing out your digestive system, which can help move things along. When you release this posture, fresh blood and oxygen rush to support your abdominal organs.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes and sit your hips back toward your heels as you extend your arms and torso forward, so your belly is sitting on your legs. Fischer suggests bringing knees closer together, using your thighs to gently massage your intestinal tract. This is especially helpful if you’re dealing with gas.
TAKE A POST-MEAL WALK
One healthy habit of people with great digestion? A stroll after eating. One small study found that this speeds the rate at which food moves through the stomach. Other research has shown that walking right after a meal can help regulate blood sugar and aid weight loss.
PACK IN PROBIOTICS
“Having a diverse and healthy population of bacteria in the gut can benefit digestion as well as decrease bloating, gas and other gastrointestinal issues,” says Turoff. She suggests chowing down on coconut yogurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso and pickles. Another trick? Sneak probiotics into your regular recipes. Youtheory® makes a super-convenient, flavorless powder that can withstand heat and cold, so you can incorporate into everything from smoothies to coffee and baked goods.
UP YOUR FIBER
Women should aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber per day. “This essential nutrient promotes regularity and healthy bowel movements,” explains registered dietician and nutrition consultant Alix C Turoff. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough. The solution? Load up on fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds. “Now, here’s the catch: In order for fiber to do its job, it requires water,” Turoff says. So be sure to drink up as well.
SIP PEPPERMINT TEA
“Peppermint is a powerful herb that has the ability to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and improve the flow of digestive compounds,” notes registered dietician and wellness coach Michelle Smith. Instead of ending your meal with a cappuccino or a nightcap, enjoying a cup of peppermint tea will aid the digestive process. Bonus: It’ll leave your breath smelling minty fresh.