Keep reading to discover 12 ways to increase stomach motility.
But first, what is stomach motility?
What is Stomach Motility?
Let’s go back to my post on Your Digestive System. In the post, there was a paragraph which stated,
In a healthy gut, food moves through the GI tract through a process called peristalsis, which is a wave-like movement that helps push food forward. Other things contained in the GI tract help the process as well; chewing, digestive juices, stomach acid, bile, saliva, and enzymes.
That process, peristalsis is also known as stomach (or gastric) motility. When functioning appropriately, the muscles in the intestinal walls contract and release. This pushes food (aka ‘bolus’) from the esophagus to the stomach, through the intestines and then out.
But when stomach motility is not working as it’s supposed to, those contractions don’t work appropriately. This means that food doesn’t pass through the intestines properly.
What Causes Stomach Motility Issues?
In order to fix a problem, you typically need to understand the cause of that problem.
There are probably a hundred different causes for stomach motility issues. The culprit could be found at almost any point within the digestive system.
But many times, the cause is associated with a condition. So if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the below, oftentimes you’ll be able to identify the cause.
Here are 15 associated stomach motility conditions.
15 Associated Stomach Motility Conditions
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- Gastroparesis. When the stomach takes too long to empty its contents.
- IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Esophageal Spasms
- Hirschsprung’s Disease
- Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction
- Achalasia. When there is a complete lack of peristalsis within the body of the esophagus.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- SIBO. SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This is due to abnormal motility in the small intestine.
- Dumping Syndrome. Rapid gastric emptying.
- Fecal incontinence
- CVS. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.
Not all stomach motility problems mean that motility is slow. If you have diarrhea, your motility is not slow.
For me personally, my main issue with the recurring SIBO was slow motility. And for you, slow motility might also be a huge culprit.
In that case, this next part is for you.
12 Ways to Increase Stomach Motility
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Please remember to work with your doctor on these prior to implementing. Circle the number(s) that you think might make most sense for you to consider, write them down in your journal, and bring it for discussion to your next appointment.
Fasting for at least 90-120 minutes between each meal is the only way the MMC (migrating motor complex) is activated. The MMC’s job is to “clean house.”
Or eat smaller meals
Many experts will say that if you eat 4-6 smaller meals, stomach motility increases. This is likely because the average stomach empties approximately 1‐4 kcal/min.
However, I still maintain that even if you practice this, you should also ensure that 90-120 minute fast in between meals. And by no means do you want to restrict overall calories. Because….
Fix hormonal problems
Restricting calories leads to hormone issues. Hormones are heavily involved in the digestive process. In fact, did you know that the effect of different foods on gastric emptying is in large part due to the hormones released from the gastrointestinal tract that provides feedback regulation of gastric emptying?
Learn more about GI Hormones HERE.
Try a prokinetic
A prokinetic is something that stimulates movement or gastrointestinal motility. Prokinetics I have use(d) and love include: LDN(low dose naltrexone), ginger, magnesium, Iberogast, and MotiliPro.
I have put together an entire list of both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical prokinetic options HERE.
Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve is critical to motility and overall digestion. You can learn all about the Vagus Nerve and how to stimulate it HERE.
Chew your food
I’m definitely guilty of not doing this one enough. But did you know, you should chew each bite of food 30-40 times prior to swallowing? The more your teeth grind food down, the less work (= time) your stomach has to do.
Don’t drink water with your meals
Drinking water with meals can dilute digestive juices and interfere with digestion. However, you should drink more water in general. Water is critical for motility and optimal digestion.
Instead of laying down within a couple hours of eating, choose to get gentle movement in. If you can’t walk, then even just sitting upright will help.
Choose fiber wisely
Insoluble vs soluble fiber might be a better temporary option.
Be more selective with fat and meat
Both fats and meat can slow down the digestive process. Ways to help with this include: naturally breaking down fat, using HCL, accompany heavier meals with digestive enzymes, and/or eating the fats and meats with easy-to-digest foods. I have done all of this at various times! Note: please do not believe that fat and meat are to be vilified. For most, they are not the villain.
Or choose low alcohol doses (wine and beer), which can accelerate gastric emptying. High alcohol concentrations (i.e., above 15 percent) appear to inhibit gastric motility.
Treat the underlying condition
Last, but certainly not least: you must know and treat the underlying condition. In fact, this is the number one way you will be able to increase stomach motility. Slow motility doesn’t occur on its own. There is always a reason for it. Find the reason, fix the issue, and the time spent dealing with the problem diminishes.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- The FREE 21-Day Gut Healing Inspiration Journey HERE.
- DIY Lemonade for Constipation
- A Gutsy Girl’s Master Resource
You will heal. I will help.