First things first: if you have a digestive issue such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, known intolerances and allergies, or anything along those lines, you need to see a medical professional. This post isn’t going to address things like this, just some foods you can include in your diet to help aid your digestion!
Having great digestion does so much for how you generally feel, because I’m sure we all know that the opposite (bloating, cramps, constipation etc.) isn’t pleasant. It is essential for good digestion that you consume enough water, and fibre. Many of us don’t consume enough of these, and so end up constipated, bloated, and thoroughly fed up. Great gut-health is incredibly important as its through the gut our body receives many of the nutrients we need. As a result you want to keep your levels of “good gut bacteria” high. So, without further ado, here are some foods and drinks that can keep things ticking along, and take care of your digestive health…
- Ginger- This is great for cramps and gas. It eases the pain and aids the digestion. Grate or finely slice and add to your stir fries. You can also add to hot water with lemon.
- Raspberries- All fruit is great, but these are amazing at preventing or getting rid of constipation. Add to porridge or yoghurt, or eat them straight up.
- Water- Obviously. Water keeps everything hydrated and helps you to digest your food.
- Mint (and liquorice) tea- Again, great for gas and bloating. I’d recommend having this after a big meal, or simply at the end of each day. Avoid the mint with liquorice if you have hypertension though. If you can have mint and liquorice, then Asda’s Mint & Liquorice tea is under £1 and better than TeaPigs.
- Dark Chocolate-Good quality dark chocolate, think 75% and up, is wonderful for aiding the good gut bacteria and so avoiding bloating. Packed with antioxidants too, and apparently the good bacteria ferment these.
- Kefir- This is a cultured milk drink, packed with billions of gut-friendly bacteria. Its naturally low in lactose, and helps good gut bacteria flourish, whilst keeping harmful bacteria at low levels. Meaning a much happier digestive tract.
- Good-Quality Yoghurt (unless you are lactose intolerant!)- Not all yoghurts are created equal, so don’t go thinking your low fat sweetened pot of yoghurt is going to help your digestion. Yoghurts containing probiotics are good for your gut, but just avoid the ones with added preservatives, colours, sweeteners etc. Your best bet is to buy a plain natural or Greek yoghurt and add in some fruit, honey, PB…anything you like to sweeten it and add some flavour.
- Chia Seeds– These swell up and absorb liquid, and so add volume when it comes to forming stools as food leaves the gut (just make sure you drink enough water, or you can end up constipated!). Chia seeds are an amazing source of fibre, and so ideal to keep things moving. I like to add about 2tsp of these to porridge as they create a thicker texture with the added benefits above (try a basic mix of 1/2 cup oats, 2tsp chia seeds, and 1 cup of liquids- flavour and top as you like after that).
- Oats– I’ve no idea what I’d do without these. Oats are very fibre-rich, keeping your digestion in top condition, working in a similar manner to the chia seeds.
- Figs- Throw on top of a salad or a bowl of porridge, or roast for dessert. Either way they’re a naturally good digestive aid – just don’t eat the whole box at once.
- Lemon Water – Squeeze 1/4-1/2 lemon into a mug with some lukewarm water and drink up. I like to do this before breakfast if I can, and it just kick-starts things. You also get a boost of Vitamin C, and some people say it gives them more energy. There are numerous benefits to lemon water, aiding digestion is just one of many.
- High quality starchy foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, bulgur etc… – all are rich in fibre, and so aid digestion.
- Coffee- If you’re, um, struggling, then a cup of coffee may be helpful!