At some point, we all have had a digestive problem, be it stomach upset, bloating, heartburn, constipation, gas, nausea, or even diarrhea. While the manifestation of some of these conditions can be mild, most are a source of discomfort and embarrassment.
On the positive side, such issues can be adequately dealt with through lifestyle changes, particularly dietary modifications. The following is a guide to foods that improve digestive health.
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Foods Rich in Fiber
Fiber exists in two forms: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. You can obtain it from such foods as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes among others. Although fiber in not taken up by the body, it plays a crucial role towards maintaining one’s digestive health.
Soluble fiber ensures that enough water is retained in the material being digested. By this, it slows down digestion for maximum nutrient absorption. Insoluble fiber gives bulk to the stool, and it also aids movement of food through the digestive system. This contributes to regular bowel movement and reduced constipation.
Lean Meats And Fish
Proteins are necessary for a proper balanced diet. However, some sources of protein are not healthy as they may contain some types of fats that are hard for your digestive system to break down. It is advisable to consume proteins obtained from plants as they are easier to digest.
But when you decide to consume animal protein, go for lean meats and fish, pork loin, and skinless poultry. Such proteins do not contain saturated fats that would otherwise slow down the efficiency of the digestive system.
If you have always thought of bacteria as disease-causing microorganisms that should be avoided at all costs, rethink that. Repulsive as it may sound, your gut is full of trillions of friendly bacteria.
They guard your digestive system against harmful bacteria that would cause infections on the intestinal wall. They also assist in the breakdown of some food substances. Consume probiotic foods that contain live cultures of bacteria such as yogurt, fermented milk, and soy-based drinks for better digestion.
Prebiotics refers to certain types of carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They stimulate the growth of good bacteria and help them to stick to the bowel wall. Some also act as a source of food for the bacteria already living in your gut.
Examples of foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, tomatoes, chicory, and dandelion greens. It is important to note that their effectiveness is limited by cooking such foods.
Beverages With Low Caffeine Content
Water tops the list of such drinks. Others include herbal teas, fruit juices, and coconut water. Staying hydrated is good for your digestive health, but taking drinks with caffeine is detrimental to the gastrointestinal tract. It limits blood supply to the intestines, thus interfering with the process of digestion. It plays a role in the relaxation of esophageal sphincter muscle leading to heartburn.
Fresh Organic Foods
Eat natural foods that improve digestion and ensure maximum nutrition. Doing so will help you avoid processed foods that can irritate the sensitive digestive system. Also, being on a plant-based diet will help you solve any digestive issues you might be having.
Up your intake of fresh fruits, salads, and vegetables. Fresh fruits particularly are an excellent agent to cleanse your digestive system. If boosting digestive health is your goal when eating vegetables, take them raw or slightly cooked. In that state, they will provide nutrients that are essential for maintaining digestive health.
Foods With High Water Content
Put in mind that dehydration is one of the factors that contribute to constipation. Eating foods whose water content is high enhances metabolism. Water will regulate stomach acid, thus soothing an upset stomach. It also eases the movement of materials through your digestive tract.
Examples of such foods include melons, berries, cucumbers, radishes, eggplants, berries, and citrus fruits. They help you avoid constipation, which if not checked would expose you to colorectal disorders.
Another way of taking care of your digestive health is taking low-fat foods that improve digestion and decrease your chances of suffering from constipation. However, you need fat in your diet and cannot avoid it entirely.
High-fat foods will only upset the functioning of your stomach, leading to reflux and heartburn. Such foods include whole wheat snacks, skimmed milk, egg whites, beef liver, and dark-leafed vegetables.
Try Bitter Foods
You may cringe at the mention of bitterness in your mouth but what you need to know is that bitter foods play a role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. They have the ability to sweep wastes through the digestive tract.
They also help to break down some foods, and they stimulate the body to secrete digestive juices. They challenge the digestive system to do a better job of breaking down food substances. Examples are lemons, bitter lettuce, grapefruit, olives, and dandelion.
Herbs And Certain Spices
Over time, certain herbs and spices have gained popularity as being effective in soothing the stomach. Such herbs are also known as carminatives, and they include ginger, turmeric, slippery elm, milk thistle, thyme, black pepper, and cinnamon.
They have various benefits in digestive health such as protecting the immunity of the gut, relieving excess gas, inhibiting the overgrowth of bacteria, easing heartburn and speeding up digestion.
Foods to Cleanse Your Colon
It is impossible to achieve good digestive health if your colon is full of debris. There are foods that can help to detoxify the colon so as to ensure it keeps flowing regularly. Apple is mostly used for this purpose. You can take it whole, as a sauce, or in the form of apple cider vinegar. It strengthens the intestinal lining and promotes healthy digestion. Other foods in this category include flax seeds, lentils, and avocado.
In conclusion, eating foods that improve digestive health is a task worth undertaking. It gives you comfort and lets you lead a better life. It saves you the suffering associated with the diseases of the digestive tract. Healthy eating habits will benefit not only the digestive system but the body as a whole.