Though the process is the same, everyone digests food differently. Advice that works for one person doesn't always work for another. But, what about those tips you may have heard over and over. Do they work? We asked Bernadette Armiento, holistic health counselor and founder of to determine what's worth doing for best digestive health.

1. Drink water before a meal

The digestive system is like a furnace or an engine—it needs the right balance of air and fuel, and you don't want to dampen the digestive "fire" with too much water, says Armiento.

To stay hydrated, she suggests you drink a glass of room temperature, or even hot water, about 15 to 20 minutes before each meal (which will give it time to be absorbed), and sip as needed while you eat.

2. Eat a salad with vinaigrette after a meal

French, Italian, and other cultures dictate salad at the end of the meal, with the thought that it would aid digestion (and the vinaigrette wouldn't interfere with the taste of the wine). Americans typically follow a philosophy of sequential eating, consuming salad greens first. The idea is that fruits and greens are digested more quickly than heavier starches and meats, so they linger in the stomach, explains Armiento.

Experiment to see which way feels better to you to determine what doesn't cause bloating or excessive fullness, or other troublesome digestive symptoms.

3. Go on a fast

Fasting for health reasons in the strictest sense—consuming only water, juice, or a highly restricted group of foods—is something that should be done under a health practitioner's guidance, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions. But sometimes you have to "hit the reset button" on your digestive system and give it a bit of a rest, says Armiento. This is often done around the change of the seasons, or perhaps after a period of higher stress and overindulgence, she says. It can also be a lighter version of your regular diet, perhaps eliminating dairy, sugar, caffeine, oils and/or alcohol for as few as one to two days, or up to a week or more.

We already fast every day—that's the time between our last meal at night and our "break-fast" in the morning. Extend the benefits of this natural fast by eating your last bite by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., or at least three hours before bedtime. That way your digestion isn't interrupting your sleep.

4. Chew your food slowly

Chewing is where digestion starts. It helps to break down the food, but it also helps to release enzymes in saliva, which assist in the digestion of carbohydrates.

Make a goal of chewing every mouthful of food at least 30 times each, until the food becomes liquid, suggests Armiento. This will inevitably make you eat more slowly, and will make it easier for the stomach and small intestine to process and absorb nutrients. By slowing the eating process down with thorough chewing, Armiento says you may be surprised at all the different flavors that come through the food, and increase the enjoyment of your meal.

5. Take a walk immediately after a large meal

A leisurely walk after a large meal can aid digestion and help you feel refreshed, says Armiento. The activity speeds up the transit time of foods in your system to keep you regular. (Something to keep in mind if you have IBS.)

The key is taking a leisurely walk. Too vigorous exercise could interrupt the digestive process and can make you feel quite uncomfortable, especially if you're not used to it. Consider eating less in the first place to avoid that overstuffed, "food coma" feeling.

Bernadette Armiento, holistic health counselor, reviewed this article.