Digestion is the body’s process for breaking down foods that you eat. Some elements of these foods are used to produce energy and the remaining waste is prepared for excretion. Slow digestion can make you feel sluggish and may cause constipation. However, you can take a number of steps to naturally speed up digestion.
Drink increased amounts of water. It is generally recommended to drink lots of water each day -- 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men -- to support adequate hydration. In addition, water helps your body break down the foods you have eaten. Although you can drink other fluids, water is the best option, because it doesn’t dilute or eliminate naturally-developed fluids in the intestines that initiate digestion.
Eat the recommended number of servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains each day to get more fiber. Dietary fiber is essential to the digestive process. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that female adults consume 1 1/2 cups of fruit, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 3 ounces or equivalents of whole grains each day. Male adults should consume 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables and between 3 and 4 ounces or equivalents of whole grains.
Increase physical activity. Physical activity helps keep food moving through the digestive process. If you’re feeling overly full after eating a large meal, engaging in some mild physical activity can help jump start the digestive process. However, you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating before initiating any physical activity. Engaging in physical activity at various intervals throughout the day, every day, conditions the body to respond to physical activity so that the digestive system works optimally.
Avoid fatty meats, including foods like fast food burgers. These foods slow the rate of digestion, because your stomach and intestines require lots of time to break down the protein and fat abundant in them. If you want to treat yourself to a meal high in fat and protein, watch your portion size. Smaller portions will not have as much effect as larger ones, explains Colorado State University.