Often after a meal you may experience irritation related to indigestion. The symptoms can range from acidity and reflux to feeling bloated and heavy. We usually attribute these symptoms to the food we ate or where we ate it. Sometimes though, the digestive difficulty is due to some behavioral mistakes on our part.

Dr. Beatrice Salvioli, gastroenterologist at Humanitas, discussed avoiding indigestion in an article published in the weekly Viversani and Belli.


Posture at the table

You should sit with your back straight while eating. If you eat while hunched over the plate you will compress your diaphragm which, by pressing on the stomach and lungs can affect the digestive process, making it more difficult.

“Those who suffer from scoliosis or kyphosis”, says Dr. Salvioli, “often have digestive problems, since the misalignment of the spine can cause tension both physically and physiologically. Thus having an impact on the visceral organs, such as the gastrointestinal tract and resulting in the loss of physiological motility”.


Your mood affects digestion

Anxiety, agitation, stress and anger can affect the digestive processes. Emotions “trigger involuntary mechanisms of defense, including breathlessness, that blocks the breath at the diaphragm and hinders the expansion of the stomach and the proper functioning of the viscera”, explains Dr. Salvioli.

In addition, “the tensions that arise when you are altered or are afraid, favor the production of ‘the’ stress hormones (like cortisol) that along with various particles that stimulate the innervation of the viscera, slow down the emptying of the stomach and speed up bowel motility”.

If you are in such a mood, try to regain your composure before eating, for example, try taking a walk outdoors.


A walk after lunch

Nowadays many people, to optimize the limited time available, consume fast lunches and run errands during their break. Nothing could be more harmful for a good digestion, which requires you to be calm.

A walk after a meal helps the digestive process because it forces an upright position, therefore the stomach empties faster.

Fast walking, however, is not recommended because it requires a greater supply of blood and oxygen to the legs, and takes it away from the stomach. The latter without the necessary resources can not operate properly and you get a sensation of heaviness.


Hot baths after meals?

Everyone knows that you should not get wet with cold water after meals. A warm bath is contraindicated since the position in the tank does not favor the transit of food. Ideally, if one can not do without, you could take a shower which obliges you to a standing position, but always in a heated room.


Foods that can cause indigestion

Proteins of animal origin, such as fatty meat and cheese take a long time to be digested. “The advice is to not consume these foods in the evening, but rather during lunch”, adds the doctor.

Also avoid fizzy drinks after a big meal. Coffee, though not too sweet, when taken in the right doses helps at avoiding indigestion.

Finally, contrary to popular belief, fried foods are not an enemy, as long as you use extra virgin olive oil, and avoid reusing it several times.


Nutritional supplements after meals

Food supplements and herbal products can cause heartburn. This is not only because certain substances require effort to digest, but mainly because the capsules are sometimes not well formulated. In fact they are en-capsuled in gelatin sheaths which should melt according to requirements in the stomach or intestines. If they melt too soon you may experience a sensation of weight in your stomach. The advice is to take them after meals.