A malfunctioning gastrointestinal tract is an extreme burden in everyday life. Abdominal pain, flatulence or diarrhea are extremely annoying and even harmful over a longer period of time. Digestion often just needs to be stimulated to get rid of the problems.
In our article you will learn how to properly boost your digestion and find a permanent solution so that digestive problems are no longer part of your everyday life. We will first go into how our digestion works, then we will provide you with background knowledge and finally the best tips & tricks to stimulate your digestion.
the essentials in brief
- A large part of the population suffers from digestive problems
- The first reason is the wrong diet. A healthy diet should contain a lot of fiber, which can bind water and thus facilitate bowel movements.
- We spend a large part of our lives sitting down at work. This is not conducive to our digestion, which is why exercise has to be built into everyday life.
Definition: How does our digestive system work?
In the following we will briefly explain how digestion works in our body. First, the food is ground into smaller pieces by the mouth and the enzyme amylase is added by the salivary glands, which breaks down starch into glucose.
In the next step, the food passes through the esophagus into the stomach, where it is further broken down by hydrochloric acid, e.g. B. Proteins into peptides. After about one to five hours, the food pulp comes into the small intestine.
In the small intestine, more digestive enzymes are added by the pancreas, which further break down the food. The liver adds bile via the gallbladder, which serves as an emulsifier and thus mixes water with fat. As the process progresses, the small intestine absorbs (withdraws) nutrients and water.
After about seven to nine hours in the small intestine, the nearly digested food enters the large intestine. It absorbs the remaining water and electrolytes. Finally, the feces are excreted.
Background: What you should know about stimulating our digestive system
In the following we explain the background to why you need to stimulate your digestive system, what happens when you stimulate your digestion. We also address the frequently asked questions about how to stimulate digestion in babies, dogs and after surgery.
Why do we need to stimulate our digestive system?
You need to stimulate your digestive system if you suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as B. suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or flatulence. A nine study from Belgium showed that almost 70% of the population suffers from irritable bowel problems (1). In addition, people who suffer from other diseases such as gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) should also do something for their digestive tract.
But what are the reasons for these problems, you are probably asking yourself. The reason is our diet and the great stress that affects us. Our industrial diet is low in protein and fiber but high in sugar and fat. In large quantities, these have a negative impact on our digestion because your body is not designed for it.
What happens if I stimulate digestion?
When you stimulate your digestion by any means whatsoever. The entire gastrointestinal tract starts to work at its usual speed again and the bowel movement is promoted, which usually leads to a relief of your complaints, such as e.g. B. abdominal pain leads.
How do you stimulate a baby's digestion?
Babies often suffer from digestive system problems. The reason is that the entire body and the digestive system are not yet fully developed and children often swallow a lot of air when drinking in the first few months. In some cases, babies can even develop colic.
As a remedy, breastfeeding mothers can use caraway or fennel tea. Foods such as onions, garlic or legumes should then be avoided. With digestive problems, such as constipation, gentle abdominal massages and warmth often help. After consulting a doctor or midwife, you can switch your child to a special diet.
Is it possible to quickly stimulate digestion after the operation?
Many patients suffer from constipation after surgery. The reason is that drugs such as opioids are usually administered during anesthesia and after the operation, which slow down the function of the intestine. The next reason is that you are immobilized for a long time. The intestines need our constant movement so that they can work.
If it is allowed, you should definitely drink still water or tea after the operation. Eat a light meal or go for a short walk if possible. These activities make the intestines work.
Chewing gum prevents constipation.
However, it is not always possible to follow this advice when the scope of the surgery is larger. Since we recommend chewing gum. In this way, the digestive tract is fooled into thinking that food is coming and begins its work. Chewing gum can prevent constipation.(2)
What can you do about constipation?
As already mentioned in our article, we have already mentioned the main reasons for constipation. To prevent this, you should eat a high-fiber diet.
Here is a table with the largest fiber suppliers for your body.
|Groceries||Fiber per 100g|
If you already have a blockage, you can find some suggested solutions in our Tips & Tricks section that will help you solve your problem.
If the constipation lasts for a longer period of time or causes severe pain, we definitely recommend that you see a doctor, who can prescribe laxative medication and carry out more detailed examinations.
Stimulate digestion after eating too much?
You probably know it at Christmas or other festivals, you have eaten far too much again. There is a feeling of fullness, our stomach is overloaded by the large amounts of fat and the large portions.
First a little tip before the next big meal. Enjoy the food slowly and focus on the delicious flavors. The reason is that when we eat slowly, we reach our inner fullness faster than when we eat quickly.
If you have already done so, there are some tips for doing so. First, you can dissolve some baking soda (not baking soda) in lukewarm water or tea and slowly drink the mixture. Baking soda neutralizes your stomach acid and thus reduces the feeling of fullness.
You can also go for a walk, which really stimulates the gastrointestinal movement. Naturally, herbal teas such as chamomile tea, as well as fennel, caraway and cumin tea help.
How do you stimulate digestion in dogs?
The same factors for digestive problems affect our four-legged friends as we humans. Namely lack of exercise and a low-fiber diet.
You can solve the problem if you take your dog for longer walks and do dog sports regularly. Of course, you should also change your dog's diet. When choosing dog food, it is important that you choose food with a high content of dietary fiber and crude fibre.
If your dog is currently suffering from constipation, you can add dairy products that contain lactose, such as milk or yoghurt, to the food. If it doesn't get better, you should definitely see a vet.
Stimulate digestion: The best tips & tricks to stimulate digestion.
In the following we present our tips & tricks on the subject of stimulating digestion. We look at medicines and natural options. Finally, you will also learn which movements are particularly good for our digestion.
Do you have to use medication to stimulate digestion?
First, we will deal with the over-the-counter medicines, which you can buy yourself in the pharmacy or even in the drugstore. First there are the osmotic laxatives, these are water-pulling. By these means, water is withdrawn from the bloodstream of the intestine.
On the one hand, this softens the stool, and on the other hand, the receptors in the intestinal wall are stimulated. Lactulose, Glauber's salt, Epsom salt or even psyllium also belong to the osmotic laxatives.
There are also suppositories, which usually contain a mixture that releases carbon dioxide and is particularly suitable for hard balls of feces in the rectum. Other strong laxatives, such as sodium picosulfate or senna leaves, must not be taken over a long period of time, as this can lead to a fluid and mineral deficiency.
Drugs in the prokinetics(5) group belong to the prescription drugs. They dock to the receptors of the intestinal wall nerves and thus greatly increase intestinal mobility. As a result, the chair experiences a shorter residence time.
How does a natural digestive stimulation work?
Of course there are not only chemical variants to stimulate our intestines, but also natural ones. Below you will find out which foods will help you.
Not only our mind is invigorated by coffee, but also our digestion. The caffeine in coffee increases blood pressure; thus stimulates the metabolism and keeps the digestion going.(3)
Coffee promotes digestion. (Image source: Unsplash / mike-kenneally)
However, caffeine is not solely responsible for the increased intestinal activity, the many bitter substances in the bean stimulate the production of stomach acid. The Robusta beans usually have a higher content of bitter substances than Arabica beans, you can pay attention to this when choosing your next coffee.
Sauerkraut has almost been forgotten, but it really is an old superfood. Sauerkraut contains a lot of vitamin C , vitamin K, beta-carotene and is a supplier of minerals such as sodium, potassium and magnesium.
It also contains lactic acid bacteria useful for our intestinal flora. They are produced during the fermentation of cabbage and serve our body as a probiotic. They bring your intestinal flora back into balance by increasing the number of good germs and reducing the number of bad germs.
Of course, sauerkraut can act as a natural laxative. The bacteria and the many dietary fibers counteract constipation. It is most effective in the morning on an empty stomach.(4)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar acts like a disinfectant in our body by killing harmful bacteria in our intestinal flora. These can cause bloating and constipation. The apple cider vinegar reduces these.(6)
For example, you can do an apple cider vinegar cleanse. Mix some apple cider vinegar with water and drink this drink before every meal. When making your selection, it is important that you use a good natural vinegar with acetic acid bacteria. This is the only way to get the benefits of a vinegar cure.
Caution is advised if you suffer from conditions such as gastritis or heartburn. Here you should avoid vinegar altogether or consult your doctor.
Plums, pears, apricots and many other fruits in particular help to boost digestion and help against constipation. Plums in particular are said to have a laxative effect.
The reason is the high fiber content and the gelling agent pectin. It binds water in the intestines, making bowel movements easier and faster. You can use fresh, dried fruit and juice to achieve different effects.
Fresh fruit and juice have more of a diuretic effect, while dried fruit has a higher nutrient content (as well as more pectin and fiber). It should be noted with dried fruit that too much can lead to severe flatulence. We strongly recommend that you drink some water after the dried fruit, this minimizes the bloating.(7)
Since, as already mentioned, one of the problems in our diet is the low fiber content, the following seeds are particularly helpful. Flea seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds have a very high fiber content.
What is special about them is the high content of mucilage, which swells in the water and binds it, e.g. For example, psyllium husks can bind up to 40 times their weight in water and take on a galenite-like consistency. Thus, the seeds can help with diarrhea and constipation.(8)
You can, for example, dissolve the seeds in porridge, muesli or pure in water, which we would not recommend as this is not a taste experience. Of course you can mix some of the seeds into your smoothie, but don't use too much as it jellies a lot. It is also possible to make your own crispbread with different types of seeds.
Digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, etc. can occur with a vitamin deficiency, among other things. This is particularly noticeable with the vitamins of the B group . The reasons for this are, on the one hand, malnutrition or a disturbed intestinal flora that impairs the absorption of vitamins. As a solution, you could do a colon cleanse and rely on additional vitamin and mineral supplementation.(9)
Various types of tea, such as green or black tea, contain theine and many tannins, which stimulate digestion. If you want to have as many tannins as possible in your tea to use against diarrhea or constipation, you should choose green tea. Also let it steep longer, so you get a maximum of tannins.
The essential oils of the ginger root stimulate digestion and help with many gastrointestinal problems. Ginger has been used successfully in Asian medicine for a long time. Caution should be exercised if you have a sensitive or unaccustomed stomach to ginger, as this can irritate the gastric mucosa.
We recommend the preparation as a tea as follows. Wash the ginger under lukewarm water, making sure not to peel the root, as the peel contains many vitamins. Then cut them into thin slices and pour hot water over them. If you want, you can also add some green tea.(10)
Another tea variant that is often used for gastrointestinal complaints is the mixture of fennel, aniseed and caraway. The essential oils calm the stomach, are diuretic and antibacterial. You can buy the mixture at any drugstore or pharmacy.
How do you stimulate digestion with exercise?
Our bodies are not designed to sit in the office for long periods of time. Which is why it is so important to incorporate movement units into your everyday life. Through the body movements, our intestines are stimulated.
Basically, you can practice any sport that you like. We would particularly recommend swimming because it relieves the joints and spine and presses the water lightly on our digestive tract.
There are also a lot of yoga exercises for digestion. The reason is the blood circulation in the pelvic area, which is stimulated by exercises. Of course, this has a positive effect on our gastrointestinal tract.
If you cannot motivate yourself for sports units. We recommend that you incorporate walks into your lunch break. This would stimulate your digestion, relax your back from sitting, and give you more energy.
In conclusion, one can say that, on the one hand, nutrition provides an important factor. Lots of fiber in our diet should be the basic building block, not only from a digestive perspective but also for health reasons. In addition, industrial foods should be avoided, as they contain hardly any fiber.
On the other hand, sufficient exercise is essential to keep our digestion going. The movement of our body also stimulates digestion. A regular walk in the fresh air can help a lot.
- Van den Houte K, Carbone F, Pannemans J, Corsetti M, Fischler B, Piessevaux H, Tack J. Prevalence and impact of self-reported irritable bowel symptoms in the general population. United European Gastroenterol J. 2019 Mar;7(2):307-315. doi: 10.1177/2050640618821804. Epub 2018 Dec 22. PMID: 31080615; PMCID: PMC6498809. Source
- TC van den Heijkant, LMM Costes, DGC van der Lee, B Aerts, M Osinga-de Jong, HRM Rutten, KWE Hulsewé, WJ de Jonge, WA Buurman, MDP Luyer. Randomized clinical trial of the effect of gum chewing on postoperative ileus and inflammation in colorectal surgery, British Journal of Surgery, Volume 102, Issue 3, February 2015, Pages 202-211 Source
- Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. doi: 10.1080/003655299750025525. PMID: 10499460. Source
- Dimidi E, Cox SR, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. nutrients. 2019 Aug 5;11(8):1806. doi: 10.3390/nu11081806. PMID: 31387262; PMCID: PMC6723656. Source
- Serotonin receptor agonist prucaloprid activates the gut, 02/11/2010, deutsche-apotheker-zeitung Source
- netdoktor: Apple cider vinegar as a home remedy, Sabine Schrör, November 21, 2019 Source
- Attaluri A, Donahoe R, Valestin J, Brown K, Rao SS. Randomized clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr;33(7):822-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04594.x. Epub 2011 Feb 15. PMID: 21323688. Source
- Melo D, Machado TB, Oliveira MBPP. Chia seeds: an ancient grain trending in modern human diets. food function 2019 Jun 19;10(6):3068-3089. doi: 10.1039/c9fo00239a. PMID: 31086922. Source
- pharmaceutical newspaper: Marion Hofmann-Assmus, 04.10.2011 Source
- Haniadka R, Saldanha E, Sunita V, Palatty PL, Fayad R, Baliga MS. A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). food function 2013 Jun;4(6):845-55. doi: 10.1039/c3fo30337c. Epub 2013 Apr 24. PMID: 23612703. Source