10 Foods for Healthy Digestion

Healthy digestion is at the root of a healthy lifestyle and maintenance of a healthy body. Problems within the digestive system, including an imbalance in bacteria, failure to secrete proper hormones or lack of digestive enzymes, can all be caused by poor digestion and be the leading cause of many other issues in the body, such as skin problems, auto immune diseases and an overloaded liver. Use these foods to help maintain good digestive health:
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  • Ginger

  • This fiery root is in the base ingredients of lots of curries and Southeast Asian dishes, the start of the show in gingerbread cookies, and often added to smoothies and juices. Okay, so maybe using it in gingerbread cookies doesn’t count, but when it is an ingredient in all the other dishes, it is very good for digestive health and for easing the digestive system of upset or distension. It is a root, meaning it has a rich nutrient base from the soil, offering many trace elements like copper and selenium. Furthermore, its fieriness helps push out any invaders within the micro biome of the stomach, as many cannot function in an environment in the presence of too much heat.
  • Sauerkraut

  • This is fermented cabbage, made by shredding cabbage and placing it in a jar with salt and water to ferment over a period of a few weeks. The natural fermentation process of the cabbage yields probiotics, healthy bacteria for the gut, which help balance the flora within the intestinal tract. Having adequate healthy bacteria is also necessary for the production of certain vitamins, to help maintain the walls of the stomach, and to aid in detoxification. Other sources of probiotics include kimchi, kombucha and kefir, many of which you can make yourself at home! Aim to consume probiotics daily to maintain optimal gut health.
  • Pineapple

  • This sweet tropical fruit which you may enjoy in smoothies or fresh for a snack, is actually very high in a naturally occurring digestive enzyme called bromelain. Found most predominately in the fresh fruit or in unsweetened pineapple juice, it aids in the digestion of starches within the stomach and intestines and can help ease indigestion, which may appear after meals. Sip on some pineapple ginger tea, or enjoy some freshly sliced pineapple straight out of the container to reap the benefits of this digestive friendly fruit. You can also add pineapple to your cooking, such as in pineapple fried rice, or in sweet and sour dishes, but be aware that it may further exasperate your issues, as some individuals do not do well digesting fruit at the same time as meat, veggies and grains.
  • Flaxseed

  • Ground flax and flax oil are both an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which not only aid in breakdown of foods, but that also are an impressive source of fiber to help move food through the intestines. Furthermore Omegas are the essential fatty acids, meaning our body cannot synthesize them, and instead needs to get them from food sources. They play a significant role in helping reduce inflammation in the body through the effects of prostaglandins: short living hormone-like substances that circulate through the body fighting inflammation. Other good source of Omegas are fish, hemp oil and black currant oil.
  • Porridge

  • This is referred to as a "mucilaginous" food. In other words, the oats turn into a gelatinous mush when they are cooked! This is good for the digestive system for system for several reasons: firstly, the mushy texture means it is already partly digested, and the digestive system does not have to work as hard to get it to a state where we are able to absorb the nutrients. This is also a good digestive food because it is high in fiber, which moves product through the intestine, and helps to lower cholesterol because it binds it to the digestive wastes so it can be eliminated and does not continue to float around in the system.
  • Garlic

  • This bulb, which you are likely used to seeing used in lots of dishes, has more to offer than just a big flavor punch. While it is mostly used in cooking to enhance the taste of food, it also has powerful properties as an antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial agent. This means that when you eat foods with garlic in them, you are getting all these great benefits, and it is offering a boost to your gut health, helping to eliminate any unwanted bacteria, which may be hanging out with the food bacteria in your stomach. You can also use garlic for more than just prevention though: the next time you have a cold, smash up a few cloves of garlic and add them with some lemon, ginger and cayenne to some hot water and make yourself a healing tea. The antiviral properties of the garlic, combined with the alkalinizing affects of the lemon and cleansing mechanisms of the ginger and cayenne will put you on the mend in no time!
  • Kiwi

  • Although filled with fiber and vitamin C (especially in the skin), a source of potassium, and loaded with magnesium, the real key player when it comes to kiwi, is that it is a source of pepsin. Pepsin is one of the digestive enzymes that naturally lives in our stomach, and is responsible for the digestion of proteins. Although we usually just get this enzyme when it is secreted by the stomach in response to consuming meat or legumes, having it in kiwi, means that we can eat a kiwi to help out the stomach if we know we tend to under secrete enzymes or have just enjoyed a protein rich meal.

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