Stress, poor dietary habits, environmental toxins, food allergies or intolerances, parasites, viral illnesses, certain medications and frequent antibiotic use all have the potential to wreak havoc on your body’s complex digestive system. The resiliencies and sensitivities inherent to the metabolic process are highly individual, but adequate water intake coupled with a balanced diet that emphasizes whole foods generally goes a long way toward promoting healthy digestion.
Fiber — it’s the unseen essential that keeps your digestive system humming. Guidelines say to get 25 grams of fiber every day. Beans are a perfect high fiber, low fat food, serving up about 19 grams per cup.
Good news for those worried about flatulence from high fiber foods: Research published in the Nutrition Journal showed that people had less gas than they thought they would when upping bean consumption. Only half of participants reported any increase in gas at first and, by the end of the first week, that number dropped to just 19 percent, making eating beans a digestive tip you can live with. Besides most dried beans and lentils, other good foods for digestion that have a high fiber content are whole grains, raspberries, and artichokes, among many other fruits and vegetables.
Kind of like a drinkable yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product that contains oligosaccharides, complex carbs that feed beneficial bacteria. And keeping those tiny microorganisms content will help supercharge your immune system.
Friendly bacteria that live inside your digestive tract help digestion. Eating yogurt with live cultures and other foods that contain probiotics build up that positive population. “We encourage probiotics,” says gastroenterologist Peter L. Moses, MD, professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. If you’re not a yogurt fan, don’t fret: Dr. Moses says that supplements contain better strains of probiotics. A small study of 19 seniors with chronic constipation found that daily probiotic supplements increased both frequency and consistency of stool, according to research published in the Nutrition Journal. Other studies suggest that probiotics can ease irritable bowel and Crohn’s disease symptoms and may reduce the risk of diarrheal infections, such as Clostridium dificile.
People with digestive dysfunction should consume kiwi fruit, as it is loaded with linolenic acid, actinidin, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and other fatty acids. Presence of all these elements eases the functioning of digestion, as kiwi includes pepsin. Pepsin is substantially needed for the proper functioning of the digestive system.
The soothing taste of peppermint may help ease indigestion as well as some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint oil can be included in many recipes or even tea, but more often is taken as a coated supplement. Digestion tip: Taking peppermint oil for at least four weeks has been shown to significantly reduce IBS symptoms. It works as an antispasmodic, which means that the supplement appears to be able to smooth and relax the bowels.
A standby for centuries in Korean culture, this spicy fermented cabbage dish acts like a tonic for your gastrointestinal tract. A 2005 Seoul National University study found it’s so beneficial to the immune system that it helped speed recovery in chickens stricken with the virulent avian flu.
This fruit is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and myoinositol. Cantaloupe contains a great amount of digestive enzymes. It also contains powerful agents that help to fight against intestinal cancer. Besides, it helps relieve anxiety, insomnia and prevents hardening of the arteries.
A traditional Asian remedy for tummy aches and nausea and a favorite condiment used in Japanese cuisine, ginger is another good food for digestion and a popular natural aid among pregnant women, whether in ginger teas, candies, or supplements. And there’s real research to back up ginger’s benefits: Ginger helps digestion by speeding up the process that moves food from the stomach into the upper small intestine, according to a study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
9. Dark Chocolate
This is not too good to be true! Louisiana State University researchers recently discovered that certain bacteria in the stomach gobble down the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart!
The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate, explains study author Maria Moore, and undergraduate and research at the university. “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke,” said John Finley, PhD, who led the work. He said that this study is the first to look at the effects of dark chocolate on the various types of bacteria in the stomach.
Cucumber is loaded with dietary fiber, fats, folate, calcium and vitamin C. Cucumber is good for people suffering from stomach and lung problems. Consuming cucumber juice daily provides relief from heartburn, stomach acidity, gastritis and peptic ulcer. Erepsin, a protein present in cucumber aids in proper digestion.
Artichokes are potent prebiotics, meaning they contain indigestible nutrients that help feed the beneficial bacteria growth within your digestive system. Think of them like a healthy meal for the helpful bacteria in your gut.
12. Lemon Water
Another natural supplement to treat indigestion is lemon water. Consuming lemon water in the morning will give quick relief from indigestion and will remove harmful substances which will further enhance your appetite.