• Dr. Kate Ricciardi

13 Body Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Digestive Health and How to Do It

Diaphragmatic breathing (aka deep breathing or belly breathing) is a focused type of breathing that is used in meditation and stress relief. It can help with relaxation, strengthening the diaphragm (muscle at the base of the lungs), reducing cortisol, help with sleep, anxiety, stress and digestive health.

As noted in a previous post, stress impacts our immune system. Even in the absence of big stressors, chronic stressors of life can impact our body.

We know that much of the immune system is located in the gut and when stress stimulates our fight or flight response, it's impacting our digestion and digestive health. When our immune system is stressed, it can leave you more susceptible to illness. Stress also has it's effect on our gut, which impacts our hormones and neurotransmitters, creating a cycle of challenges for our body and mind to overcome.

Other benefits of diaphragmatic breathing includes lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving body awareness and coordination, and slowing your rate of breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing also allows for more focus and for the ability to tune in to your body.


Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing technique designed to utilize the diaphragm to help strengthen it, improve oxygenation, and reduce the energy needed to breathe (the work of breathing) is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing to:


1. Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. 3. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. 4. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible. At first you may notice a challenge to your coordination with breathing as it takes a bit of time getting used to recruiting your diaphragm while keeping your chest still. With practice, it should become easier. Try this 3-4 times per day for about 5 minutes for stress relief.

Disclaimer: Always check with your healthcare provider if you have any respiratory concerns or chronic health conditions/diagnoses. This is a guide and is a technique to try at your own risk.

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     Dr. Kate Ricciardi, DPT RDN CLT     919-797-9296       rdnutritionconsulting.com      info@rdnutritionconsulting.com

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