Proper digestion is crucial for a healthy life. The digestive system is responsible for food intake, assimilating the nutrients in our food, and eliminating the wastes and substances our bodies don’t need. It’s a pretty amazing process, when you stop to think about it!
That said, modern eating habits and food choices have tampered with this intricate but sensitive system, overloading our guts with food additives, pesticides, and chemicals that can cause big problems for our digestive health.
Here are some of my top food choices to help with the digestive process (and to help keep us healthy!)
Flax is an excellent source of that critical digestive health component – fibre. Fibre is what keeps things moving though our colon, helping to excrete any waste. It helps to prevent constipation (Phyllis A. Balch, 140); it supports colon health; and it excretes unwanted toxins from the body (Phyllis A. Balch, 141). Flaxseeds can also help with the absorption of nutrients in the intestine.
Kimchi is lacto-fermented vegetables and is a tradition in Korean culture. It’s a probiotic – excellent for gut health; it improves the digestive functions; and it’s a great source of nutrients, including vitamin C and fibre.
Drinking water helps avoid constipation (Elson M. Hass, 26) because it keeps things moving! It’s not only beneficial for digestion, though. Failure to stay well hydrated is linked to a list of chronic health problems, including arthritis, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, the list goes on (Elson M. Hass, 14).
Ginger promotes healthy digestion by relaxing the intestinal tract for smooth elimination. It also helps when the digestive system is in distress, reducing nausea, motion sickness and vomiting. Yup, ginger is a great addition for the medicine cabinet!
Adding lemon to your water is an easy habit to get into, and it can be one of the most beneficial. Lemon cleanses the liver – a very important organ in the digestive process – and it aids in digestion (Phyllis A. Balch, 65). An added benefit of adding lemons to your diet is boosting the immune system; the magic yellow citrus fruit can lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels (Phyllis A. Balch, 65).
Some bitter greens to consider working into your diet include kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, arugula, and spinach. Why? The bitterness of these greens stimulates many functions throughout digestive process, including enzymes that break down your food and hydrochloric acid, which plays a very important role for the digestive process in your stomach. They also set your other digestive organs in motion, including the liver and gallbladder.
Top tip: If you find some of the greens too bitter, mixing them in with other leafy greens or vegetables can make them more palatable.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York: Avery, 2003. Print.
Haas, Elson M., and Buck Levin. Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2006. Print.