What You Should Drink After A Meal To Help With Digestion, From RDs
At mindbodygreen, we talk a lot about the best foods, supplements, and lifestyle tips to support your gut health and promote healthy digestion. Chewing slowly and going for a leisurely walk post-meal are two easy ways to help your body digest more smoothly. But did you know something as simple as drinking an optimal beverage can also keep things moving?
As for what those beverages are, you have quite a few options, so it's really up to personal taste. From tangy to soothing to fizzy, these are the best expert-backed drinks to sip on after your meal to support digestion and ease your stomach.
The best drinks for digestion:
Apple cider vinegar
One of the most talked-about (and somewhat controversial) drinks for digestion, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a fermented product that contains a small amount of good-for-your-gut bacteria. What's more, "the high acidity in ACV helps break down food in the stomach by introducing more acid into the stomach tract," says registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Smoothies & Juices.
Apple cider vinegar may also be particularly useful after eating carb-dense meals, explains integrative medicine and nutrition expert Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D. One study even shows that daily vinegar intake (about 2 to 6 tablespoons per day) improved the glycemic response to carbohydrate-rich meals1, but more research is needed. We do know that apple cider vinegar may increase stomach acid levels, which is great if your levels are on the lower side. But it can also backfire, leading to heartburn if you make enough stomach acid on your own.
For that reason, it's important to dilute your ACV beverage rather than drink it straight. Since it's very acidic, too much ACV may be harmful to your esophagus and your tooth enamel2. "I generally recommend having one to two tablespoons with a glass of water immediately before meals," says Schehr. "It can be taken during or after meals but is likely most effective when consumed before meals." Along with diluting your ACV with water, Jessie Inchauspé (aka The Glucose Goddess) recommends drinking it through a straw to help protect your teeth.
If you're a tea fan, there are several options that can help with digestion, and peppermint is one great choice. "Peppermint has been shown in studies to reduce spasms [in the digestive tract]3, meaning your body is more relaxed and can more easily digest food after ingesting it," notes Schehr. Peppermint tea may also help ease gas and bloating for better overall comfort.
Another soothing tea, ginger has long been known to have stomach-soothing properties4 but may also be useful in supporting healthy digestion, as well.*
"Ginger root stimulates saliva flow, bile and gastric juice production, which can help with digestion."* explains Schehr. You may feel sluggish after eating if your food is taking a while to digest or you had an especially large meal, so something like ginger tea can help the digestive process and leave your gut feeling great.
"Kombucha [is] a fermented drink touted for its ability to provide beneficial bacteria to the gut," says Schehr. "[Drinking] it after a meal may assist with digestion and also provide a sweet taste to end the meal." The tangy flavor certainly may not be for everyone, but with a range of delicious flavors to choose from, kombucha is an excellent effervescent treat. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, proceed with caution: Kombucha does contain caffeine and may contain alcohol, albeit in very small amounts.
If you want to double down on nutrients, green juice with pulp or a fiber-packed smoothie are other great options to nourish your body. Pair it with pulp or a fiber rich smoothie to support healthy digestion.
Don't own a juicer? No need: Just mix 1 tablespoon of mbg's organic veggies+ with water for a nutritious alternative. This greens powder is formulated with 31 powerhouse ingredients including a range of organic fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and prebiotic fiber to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption so you can get the most out of your meal.* If you want to liven things up a little, try this green juice mocktail as well.
Rounding out your meal with the right drink can make all the difference for your digestion. Opt for one of the five expert-backed beverages above for a little extra support. Just remember: The foods you're fueling your body with also affect how you're feeling once you finish eating. Creating well-rounded, nutrient-dense dishes is the first step in preventing bloat and supporting digestion.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.