Posted on Sep 03, 2020, 6 p.m.
The digestion process is rather like a choreographed routine in which the body carries out various steps that are needed to break down all the food that you eat to obtain the needed vitamins, minerals, fats, calories, and protein that it contains, then it must get rid of all the leftovers.
The majority of people really don’t think about how their body works until something is not going right, especially digestion. But most people can take steps to help avoid problems, and one of the easiest for digestive health is to consume foods that are good for digestion.
During the digestion process, the body breaks down food into nutrients that are used for energy, growth, and cellular repair. When this process goes wrong whether it be from overeating, or eating foods that are known not to be the best for you, you should take a look at what you’ve been eating and review what good nutrition is.
According to American federal guidelines individuals aged 2+ should be eating a variety of healthy food choices, and balancing calories ingested with physical activity. These guidelines suggest foods including fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unsalted nuts and seeds, lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, soy products and eggs. However, not everyone can consume dairy products, they should consider alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk.
When it comes to plant foods, fibre is the digestible part that helps us to stay regular. The fibre itself is not digested by enzymes in our gut, we need to consume fibre-rich foods because they absorb water in the intestines, ease bowel movements, and promote the healthy gut microbes that we need for proper digestion. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends women get 25 grams per day and men get 28 grams per day, which can be done by increasing the amount of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables that you eat while decreasing the intake of foods that are high in sugar and fat content.
Along with the recommendation, consuming a diet that is low in saturated fats but high in plant foods will help with digestion. These sources of plant-based foods will also help in lowering the bad LDL cholesterol levels and help to improve blood sugar control.
There is a wide variety of high fibre foods ranging from almonds, apples, artichokes, avocado, banana, barley, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, chia seeds, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, oats, kidney beans, pears, quinoa, raspberries, strawberries, split peas, and turnip greens that taste delicious while helping you to stay regular.
Certain foods can even help to speed digestion, such as sauerkraut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, buttermilk, and sourdough contain beneficial bacteria that make them easier to digest. Yogurt also helps with digestion, and those who are lactose intolerant may be able to eat it because the fermentation process essentially predigests the lactose. Kefir, Kimchi, and miso are also fermented fare you may want to consider.
“We encourage probiotics,” says the gastroenterologist Peter L. Moses, MD, a professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. If you’re not a yogurt fan, don’t fret: Dr. Moses says that some supplements contain better strains of probiotics, as a study of 19 seniors with chronic constipation found that daily probiotic supplements increased both the frequency and consistency of stool, according to research published in Nutrition Journal.
Beans are high fibre and low-fat choices that are good for digestion. For those worried about flatulence from all the high fibre foods that Nutrition Journal published a report suggesting that those who consumed more black-eyed peas experienced less gas than they thought they would, with half of the participants reporting a slight increase in gas at first that dropped to only 19% by the end of the first week.
Fish oil can help your digestive tract and your heart. Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon are good choices, but the amount of fish oil you need for a benefit is pretty big so you may need supplements. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology showed that those with IBS had the lowest levels of the healthy fats in their blood.
Ginger is a proven digestive aid used in traditional medicines as a remedy for tummy troubles and nausea. Whether it be in teas, candies, raw, or supplements there is a lot of research to support the benefits of ginger helping digestion by speeding up the process that moves food from the stomach into the upper small intestines. Peppermint can help to ease digestion and soothe the stomach.
Staying hydrated is important as fluids work in partnership with fibre to help move solid through your system. Water is the best choice, but almost any fluid will help, but use caution with caffeinated beverages and sodas as they can cause reflux, trigger heartburn, and act as a diuretic causing you to have a fluid loss.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.