Sluggish digestive system. 3 ways to kick start your digestion. Let’s get things moving again.

Sluggish digestive system. 3 ways to kick-start your digestion. Let’s get things moving again.

Digestive issues can be a misery for most of us. I’ve experienced these issues too. When we think about digestive problems we tend to think of it being an issue with the stomach. And associate it with symptoms of bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

But digestion is not secluded to the stomach. Oh no! Digestion starts with your mouth. In fact your Saliva is the first digestive juice involved with digestion.

From your mouth, other organs get involved. As your food goes on a digestive journey of 25-35 metres. Transportation of your meals involves the food pipe (oesophagus), stomach, small intestines and large intestines.

The length of the digestion journey

Typically it takes 6 to 8 hours for food to move from the stomach to the small intestines. And studies have shown that total removal averages at 53 hours.

Now that’s an enormous length of time to be having food in our body. The thought of my Sunday dinner not fully being out of my body until Wednesday morning is pretty horrendous.

Hello, I’m Cheryl.  I’m a Yoga Teacher and Nutritional Therapist and I provide information to help people who suffer from digestive, hormonal, thyroid and joint-related conditions.


Sluggish Digestion

There are a number of reasons why your food is deciding to stay firmly put in your body. It could be due to illness, stress, lack of exercise or even medications that you’re taking.

Illnesses that are associated with sluggish digestion are:

•GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

•Irritable bowel syndrome

•Diffuse esophageal spasm (uncoordinated contractions of the oesophagus)

•Gastroparesis (disorder where the stomach doesn’t empty properly)

•Dysphagia (swallowing disorders)

The above conditions involve issues with the contraction and relaxation of our digestive organs .

The issue being Peristalsis.

What is Peristalsis

Peristalsis helps food move throughout the body. And most of us fail to allow this important bodily function to do its duty. This is not only an issue for people suffering from illness, it’s an issue for us all.

Peristalsis are wave-like muscular movements. These muscles are constantly contracting and relaxing. Pushing food along our very long digestive tubes

Peristalsis. Get your digestive sysyem moving again.

3 ways to aid peristalsis and prevent a sluggish digestive system.

#1. Go for a walk

To get your digestion moving. You need to get your body moving.


Now, you’re probably thinking your digestive system is not doing much when you’re working your legs.

And if that’s what you think. You’d be wrong.

Walking, well in fact all exercise will aid your digestion. And walking is something a lot of us can start with.

When it comes to walking you’re not only working your legs. Your gut gets a good work-out too. Every step you make works the front of your body externally and internally. Giving your gut a great work-out.

A study found that people who went for a slow-paced walk after a meal sped the rate of food moving through their stomachs. This, in comparison to people who drank an espresso or alcoholic drink after a meal. The drinks had no effect.

So think twice if having a tipple after a meal is your usual habit. This will do little to move your digestion.

Think about that walk. It should do the trick!


#2. Add more fibre


Constipation anyone? Well constipation is a complete nightmare! And our friend peristalsis is a huge issue. In order to remove our waste we require our stools to be smooth in consistency. The food we eat must allow for this smooth transition. Unfortunately our diets can lack one vital thing!

What is it? You ask.

Well, what we need here is fibre.
And most of us don’t eat enough of it!

Fibre, constipation and peristalsis

Peristalsis and Fibre

Fibre is a dear friend to peristalsis. Especially insoluble fibre.

This type of fibre doesn’t digest and adds bulk to our stools.

This bulk alerts your muscles to contract and relax, pushing the stool out.

Fibre and constipation

Stool being stagnant due to constipation delays peristalsis. Not what we need! So get your fibre.

Insoluble fibre, although helpful, can be problematic too. And it’s important to alert you to the fact that it can cause constipation.

Yes, you read correctly! The thing to help with constipation can cause it.
Ah what a pain!!

Constipation due to fibre becomes a pain if you’re not drinking enough water. A lack of fluid can cause constipation, and cause stools to become too hard. So don’t forget your 8 glasses of fluid per day. Water, preferably!

To get more fibre into your diet. Eat more whole grains, peas, beans, fruits and vegetables.


#3. Relaxation

Relaxation doesn’t just work on the mind. It works on digestion too. As a past sufferer of IBS, I’ve had great success using relaxation.

You see, IBS is not only a reaction to the foods you eat, as such. IBS is an issue with excessive contractions. The gut starts overly contracting and relaxing. And like the mind, the digestive system also needs to be calm.

This is where relaxation comes in to play.

So how can relaxation help

Relaxation, well to be more specific breathing techniques can relax your digestive system.

Breathing not only involves your nose and lungs. It also involves your nervous system and muscular system.

These two systems are big players when it comes to our digestion.

Pushing that food along our digestive tubes requires the help of the muscular system. And the nervous system helps with contracting and relaxing those muscles. So they’re great helpers to our digestion.

And to help them to not get too overworked, and overly contract, deep breathing can give us a helping hand.

Deep breathing can be directed to the chest, the diaphragm and the belly. Helping to direct blood flow to each digestive organ.

This aids in slowing peristaltic contractions throughout the body. Improving muscular movement and soothing the nervous system with each breath.

Look here for information and examples of abdominal breathing practices you can do.


I hope the recommendations are useful for you. For many of us digestive issues can be difficult to battle with. And if you’re a sufferer of chronic illness, a sluggish digestion tends to accompany the illness unfortunately.

Give the recommendations a try. Get more fibre. Get out for a gentle walk. And although difficult for lots of people, try some breathing techniques.

Good luck!!


Hello, I’m Cheryl.  I’m a Yoga Teacher and Nutritional Therapist and I provide information to help people who suffer from digestive, hormonal, thyroid and joint-related conditions.

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