The digestive system absorbs nutrients and sustains the necessary bodily functions and any hindrance to this activity leads to health conditions. In the past decade, with the rise of processed foods, there has also been a rise in the digestive problems in many people across the globe. Digestive problems like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and constipation are quite predominant, and some conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and heartburns are more on the serious side. Below are listed 20 foods which can help you improve your digestion for a long healthy life.
Milk fermented with the help of lactic acid and bacteria is yogurt. Yogurts are known to contain probiotics and probiotics are the good bacteria, which help in improving your digestion and keeping the gut healthy. They are readily available off the shelf or made at home.
Apples contain a chemical called pectin which helps in increasing the stool volume. Pectin cannot be digested in the small intestine but is directly broken down in the large intestine. The presence of fiber increases the stool volume and can curb diarrhoea and constipation. Apples also help in reducing inflammation in the gut.
Fennel is a rich source of fiber. This green leaved plant can cure constipation by relaxing the digestive muscles. Bonus: Fennel seeds or Saunf eaten after meals, absorbs the bad odours from the mouth.
Made by mixing yeast and bacteria in milk, forming a grainy culture full of good bacteria is called Kefir. Kefir populates the gut with the good bacteria and reduces the concentration of the bad ones, hence improving digestion and in the long-term eliminating conditions such as bloating, stomach cramps, and gas.
5 Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds, when hydrated form a gelatinous substance. Keeping the seeds soaked in water for a while before consuming works wonders in the gut by carrying the residual matter on the gut walls with them. They have a high fiber content too, which keeps the digestive system squeaky clean.
Kombucha is a fermented tea prepared by adding yeast and certain strains of bacteria to green or black tea. The fermentation process takes up to a week and sometimes even more. The result is a delicious drink which is abundant in probiotics, which keep your digestive health in check. Kombucha is also known to heal stomach ulcers.
The seasonal fruit, papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which helps in digestion by breaking down protein fibers. This fruit can also ease the symptoms of IBS like constipation and bloating.
8 Whole Grains
Whole grains are cereal grains that have the entire kernel like the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Some well-known examples are quinoa, oats, and whole wheat. Whole grains are fibrous, so they increase the stool volume and consistency and also act as a feed to the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans, breaking down the sugars present in it. One such chemical called phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient is broken down. Anti-nutrients interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the gut. Thus, fermentation acid improves digestion and also helps in the absorption of nutrients which could not be absorbed earlier. With regular consumption, tempeh is proved to reduce bloating and prevent diarrhoea.
Beetroot is a proven source of fiber, with almost 3% of the beetroot being just fiber. With a variety of ways to consume, this tasty vegetable adds volume to the stool.
Made by fermenting soybeans with salt and fungus. The most common method of consumption is in the form of soup. This strange sounding food contains probiotics which increase the good bacteria in the gut. Miso also helps to overcome diarrhea.
Ginger is a versatile root, finding its way even as a medicine. Ginger is not known only to cure nausea and morning sickness; it also accelerates gastric emptying. Ginger moves the food to your small intestine quicker and thus preventing heartburn and discomfort.
Kimchi is a dish served in Chinese restaurants, which is mainly fermented cabbage, but not restricted to the other vegetables. Kimchi contains probiotics, which aid in the digestion process, and the longer the cabbage is fermented, the more is the concentration of the good bacteria. Have this before consuming your food, and your gut is sure to thank you.
14 Dark Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, coriander, vrussels sprouts, broccoli, and many more are an excellent source of fiber. Along with adding volume to the stool, they also contain magnesium, which helps in relieving constipation by improving the muscle contractions in the gut. Dark green leafy vegetables also aid in digestion by acting as a feed to the good bacteria in the gut and slowing down the effects of bad bacteria.
Natto too is made by fermenting soybeans like tempeh. Natto contains probiotics which protect the digestive system from the effects of toxins and other harmful bacteria, thus improving digestion. Natto is probiotic dense food and enjoyed plain, raw eggs, soy sauce, or cooked rice.
Shredded cabbage fermented with lactic acid is known as sauerkraut. Once fermented, it is rich in probiotics like other fermented foods. The enzymes present in sauerkraut break down nutrients into smaller compounds, thus making it easier for the body to absorb into the system. So, along with flooding the gut with good bacteria, the absorption of nutrients is improved too.
Salmon is the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are known to reduce inflammation in the body and help in curing many conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances, etc.
18 Bone Broth
Made by extended simmering of bones, cartilage, and tendons of animals; the amino acids, glutamines, and glycine in the bones form gelatinous matter which helps food in the body to pass through quicker, by improving the functioning of the intestinal walls. Bone broth is known to improve many conditions such as the leaky gut and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Peppermint contains essential oils which are known to improve digestion. The oils contain menthol which eases many symptoms of IBS like bloating, stomach aches, and also regularise bowel movement. The oils also relax the muscles in the digestive system.
20 Flax Seeds
Similar to the chia seeds, flax seeds form a gelatinous substance in the presence of water. This matter helps improving digestion by eliminating toxins from the digestive tract. Add a handful of flax seeds to your delicious smoothies for added benefits.