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Why Breathing Improves Digestion

When it comes to constipation, we often pay a lot of attention to what we eat but forget the simple, daily things that can greatly improve our digestive symptoms. Better breathing improves digestion, and a healthy digestive system is a very important part of your overall well-being!

I often tell my clients that it is important to focus on HOW they are eating versus WHAT they are eating when we get started together. If they are eating in a rushed, stressed or frantic manner, at the end of the day it won’t matter what they are consuming.

Something I hear constant feedback about in my program is how “the little day-to-day things” really make a huge difference. One of those “little things” is deep breathing! Breathing can help get your body into a state of “rest and digest,” naturally lower stress hormones and improve stomach acid and digestive enzyme activity.

Ever heard someone say they were so busy that they had to work through lunch? Maybe you said this before, too! Trust me – you are NOT alone. This is so common in our busy society. It’s almost considered a badge of honor to “skip lunch” or “work through lunch” because being busy is seen as being successful. What if we flipped the script on this and focused on how taking breaks, nourishing our bodies with a meal, and relaxing while eating could be seen as productive? After all, if you are constantly running on stress and cortisol, your body is not going to gain the benefit of the nutrition you are consuming. 

If you follow along on Instagram, you may have seen the box breathing exercise I shared. This is a great breathing exercise to practice before eating, because it helps to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improve stomach acid and digestive enzyme availability. 

Box breathing is simple: 

  1. Breathe in for 4 seconds
  2. Hold for 4 seconds
  3. Breathe out for 4 seconds
  4. Hold for 4 seconds

Repeat 3-4 times!

After this, your digestive juices are ready to do their job and your intestines are primed to digest a tasty meal! 

Let me know if you give this a try, and if you notice any difference in your symptoms over time. Remember, the little changes can add up to big improvements!


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Hi, I’m Dr. Heather

Registered dietitian and helps people struggling with bloating, constipation, and IBS find relief from their symptoms and feel excited about food again.

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Dr. Heather Finley