If you have digestive issues, you know how terribly unpleasant they can be. Whether it’s a chronic issue with your digestive system such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or heartburn - or a more simple yet just as inconvenient issue like bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation - chances are pretty good that if you suffer from digestive problems, you’re looking for a solution that will help you get some relief.
The good news is that just the same way that it can cause digestive issues, your diet can also help resolve them. Namely, eating healthy can really improve your digestion, and there are certain foods in particular that you can call superfoods for how well your body responds to them. So if your digestive system is giving you some trouble, here are ten foods you should consider eating.
A big part of our digestive health is our gut bacteria, which studies suggest play a major role in even our overall well-being. The friendly bacteria that live inside your gastrointestinal tract help with healthy digestion. And eating yogurt with live cultures in it can function as a probiotic that helps build up a positive population of healthy gut bacteria, which can help increase both the frequency and consistency of bowel movements.
Another important factor in our digestive wellness is fiber, which is required to provide bulk to your stool, helping to prevent constipation, as well as functions as a prebiotic to contribute to your gut microbiome. A great source of fiber - which it is recommended that you consume at least 25 grams of a day - is whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and whole wheat.
3. Dark Green Leafy and Cruciferous Vegetables
No list of superfoods can be complete without mentioning dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Not only are these foods an excellent source of fiber, but they also contain a type of sugar that fuels the growth of healthy gut bacteria, helping you develop an ideal gut microbiome.
One more type of superfood that is excellent for your digestive health is fermented food, as the process of fermentation - in which carbohydrates are converted into alcohol or acid - creates probiotics. One kind of incredibly healthy fermented food is sauerkraut, or shredded cabbage fermented with lactic acid. Half a cup of sauerkraut contains up to 28 distinct strains of good bacteria. It’s also full of enzymes that break nutrients down into more digestible molecules.
You probably already know that the smell of peppermint can be incredibly soothing when you’re suffering from an upset stomach, but it turns out that peppermint oil has actually been shown to really help digestive problems, with the menthol it contains easing symptoms like bloating, stomach discomfort, and bowel movement issues. It’s thought that peppermint oil might work its digestive magic by relaxing the muscles of your digestive tract.
In addition to benefitting your heart health, the healthy oils found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, anchovies, and sardines - or in fish oil pills - can help digestive issues caused by inflammation in the gut such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and food intolerances. It’s thought that the reason why fish and fish oil are able to do this is due to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, a very healthy nutrient that is hard to find in other foods.
Legumes, which are a food category including lentils, beans, and nuts, are an excellent source of fiber without providing too much fat. And if you’re worried about that age-old saying, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot” - don’t be. Research actually shows that they cause less gas than their reputation might suggest, so they’re certainly worth incorporating into your diet.
One healthy, easily found, cheap, and sweet superfood that can help your digestion is the almighty apple. Apples contain quite a bit of pectin, which is a soluble fiber that is broken down by the friendly bacteria in your colon. They can increase stool volume, resolving constipation and diarrhea, and decrease the risks of intestinal infections and inflammation in the colon.
Miso, the ingredient that lends its flavor to the favorite Japanese miso soup enjoyed at sushi restaurants around the world, is another fermented food made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus. As a fermented food, miso contains plenty of probiotics that improve digestion and reduce digestive issues by increasing the good bacteria in your all-important gut microbiome.
We’ll finish our list off with another superfood that works the same way as many of the others on this list do. We’re talking about kimchi, a fermented cabbage, that has both bowel health-promoting fiber and the probiotics fermented foods are known for, helping promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your colon.
The Bottom (No Pun Intended) Line
Anybody who suffers from digestive diseases or other digestive problems knows that they can seriously prevent you from enjoying your life to the fullest and feeling well. That’s why improving your digestion is an important part of living a healthy life.
In addition to consuming the ten foods listed above, another option for relieving gastrointestinal issues that many people may not know about is visiting a chiropractor in Idaho. At Meridian Chiropractor, we take the most integrated possible approach to help uncover why you are hurting and help you achieve permanent relief, including from digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain.