Top Foods for Better Digestion & Digestive Health
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Do you have digestive issues? You're not alone. According to a survey from 2018, approximately 61% of Americans experienced at least one adverse gastrointestinal symptom, such as heartburn, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation recently.
What foods and beverages will help?
Bone Broth: Is rich in glycine, an amino acid that helps stimulate the production of stomach acid, protect against gastric ulcers, seal the gut lining, and reduce the overgrowth of harmful microbes. You can make your own bone broth or if tight on time, purchase at the supermarket.
Sauerkraut and Kimchi: The bacterial species found in fermented foods are often abundant and diverse. Eating kimchi has been shown to increase certain healthy bacteria that produce anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids. I love kimchi. We recently tried MaMa O's kimchi, which can be eaten on its own or added to a meal. So yummy!
Kefir: Is a fermented, probiotic drink. It has been shown to help ease constipation and daily consumption of kefir can help eradicate H. pylori, the pathogen responsible for stomach ulcers. You can find kefir in the dairy case at your market. Make sure to read the label to ensure you're getting a healthy option.
Kombucha: Another fermented beverage, Kombucha is made by adding a starter culture of bacteria and yeast to black or green tea with sugar, and allowing it to ferment. Kombucha has strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria.
A Mix of Non-Starchy and Starchy Plants: Eating a wide variety of non-starchy and starchy plants (and legumes) can be beneficial for the gut flora. Starchy plants like plantains, tubers, carrots, and squash are rich in soluble fiber, which feeds your gut flora and can have anti-inflammatory effects. I add shredded carrots to several meals every week. We also roast tubers (along with other veggies) weekly.
Some non-starchy vegetables, like leafy greens, are high in insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and acts as a bulking agent to promote healthy bowel movements. Eating foods that contain insoluble fiber can help keep you regular. I eat kale, spinach, Swiss chard on a daily basis and I'm about as regular as I can possibly be — it's a beautiful thing.
Cooked and Cooled Potatoes: Cooked and cooled potatoes are full of resistant starch, a specific type of insoluble fiber. Resistant starch feeds the types of bacteria that produce and stimulate the production of immune cells.
Raw Honey: Raw honey can reduce GI inflammation and is sometimes used to treat digestive issues such as diarrhea. It’s proven to be effective as a treatment for (H. pylori) bacteria, a common cause of stomach ulcers. It’s also a potent prebiotic, meaning it nourishes the good bacteria that live in the intestines, which are crucial not only for digestion but overall health.
Ginger: Eastern medicine has been using ginger for digestion and nausea for centuries. Ginger, also used to treat chronic indigestion and may also help prevent gastric ulcers. I love ginger. I add it to most meals, smoothie bowls, soups, and granola.
Coffee and Tea: Coffee helps keep you regular by increasing colon motility. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, or don’t like coffee, tea has digestive benefits too. Several phytochemicals in tea have antibacterial and antifungal properties that help prevent pathogens from inhabiting the gut.
Want to learn more about what's happening in your microbiome/gut? I recently partnered with a microbiome testing company, Ixcela. Using a pinprick of blood, Ixcela measures gut-specific metabolites and then provides you with a detailed report about what is happening in your gut and how you can make improvements. My Ixcela report yielded some interesting results with some room for improvement in my nutrition. After you take the test and your results come in, together, we will go over your report and the recommendations. And, because I'm an Ixcela partner, I can offer you a 10% discount. Got questions? Happy to tell you more!