Chewing might trim belly fat.
Sally Anscombe/Getty Images
Taking time to chew your food makes me, your stomach, happyâand itâs essential for proper digestion. Chewing breaks food into small enough pieces for the rest of your GI tract to handle and signals that it's time for me to begin producing acid. Bonus for you: Chewing may keep you slim. One study of 450 Japanese women found that those who ate foods that required the most chewing trimmed more than an inch from their bellies, compared to those who ate the softest foods. Try for at least 40 chews per bite; it's not only good for digestion, but also helps people eat less.
Certain spices help keep us slim.
Joff Lee/Getty Images
Because fat is challenging to digest, it makes me bloated. Spices, especially ginger and curcumin, help you digest fat, which makes my job a little easier. A 2011 study showed that spices stimulate the body to secrete more bile and also promote activity in the pancreas, both of which are required for breaking down fat.
I can hold up to a half a gallon.
When Iâm empty, I have the volume of about one-fifth of a cup, or 1.6 fluid ounces. But donât test me! I have the capacity to hold a whopping 8 cups (64 fluid ounces) if you overfeed me. Thatâs a lot of stretching! But hey—just because I can hold that much, doesnât mean I should.
Saliva helps with taste.
Sean De Burca/Getty Images
Guess how much âspitâ you produced today? You wonât believe it: six cups! Saliva is one of the bodyâs most underappreciated fluids. Without it, you wouldnât be able to taste or swallow food—or even form words!
Content continues below ad
I regenerate my lining completely every four to five days.
RubberBall Productions/Getty Images
Talk about a transformation! Thatâs because I churn out a powerful fluid called hydrochloric acid, which helps break down foods in much the same way that laundry detergent cleans stains. Itâs so potent (strong enough to dissolve the metal zinc) that I need to keep regenerating so the acid wonât injure me.
Try more aerobic exercise.
Martin Barraud/Getty Images
As long as you wait at least an hour after you eat to work out, Iâm a big fan of regular exercise because it makes me more efficient. Aerobic exercise is my favorite. It keeps the digestive tract muscles in good shape so they contract more easily and push food through so I donât get backed up.
Acid reflux isn't always obvious.
Swear you donât have acid reflux because your throat doesnât burn? Fine, but I know better. In some people, acid reflux affects the throat or lungs more than the chest, so your symptoms resemble those of a cold, like a sore throat and cough.
Deep breathing might improve reflux.
Anna Zielinska/Getty Images
Iâm not a fan of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) medsâthey mess with my ability to produce acid and do my job. But you can use breathing exercises and train your diaphragm to improve your symptoms and decrease your reliance on meds. Deep breathing can reduce the amount of air you swallow and can strengthen the muscles surrounding the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that connects me to your eating tube. An Austrian study showed that breath-training exercises helped GERD sufferers feel better within a month.
Content continues below ad
Stress does make for stomach trouble.
Klaus Vedfeit/Getty Images
The enteric nervous system, which operates the GI tract, communicates with the central nervous system. When youâre stressed, the central nervous system sometimes decreases proper blood flow to me, which can lead to tummy problems.
Get the plan for a slim, happy stomach!
Reader's Digest Association
The 21-Day Tummy plan features breakthrough science to soothe and shrink your tummy. With a specific meal plan to lower inflammation and balance gut bacteria, the 21-Day Tummy melts belly fat and eases the top five most common digestive complaints, including bloating, gas, and heartburn. Learn more about the plan
and buy the book wherever books are sold.