The Top 5 Digestive Superfoods
Do you experience bloating, gas, or uncomfortable abdominal pain after you eat?
If you answered yes, you are not alone.
In fact, more than 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year. Canada has one of the highest prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the world. According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, more than 70% indicate their symptoms interfere with everyday life, and 46% report missing work or school due to IBS.
Here’s the thing: a healthy gut is required for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.
Trillions of microbes live inside your large intestine. These include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and various other living organisms. Many of them are healthy and beneficial, and they help you feel awesome and energetic while simultaneously protecting you from illness. Although a small portion of bacteria in the gut is harmful, the vast majority is “good.”
The purpose of most gut bacterial strains is to support your immune system, nervous system, and mental health, as well as to protect you against the threat of serious infections and diseases.
Another benefit, of course, is improved digestive health and reduction in symptoms like bloating and constipation.
The following is a list of the top five digestive superfoods that help support optimal digestion by reducing symptoms and promoting a healthier gut microbiome.
The Top 5 Digestive Superfoods
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is considered a healing food in many traditional cultures. It was used as a medicinal food and still is today. Your grandparents and great-grandparents probably served homemade chicken soup anytime someone got sick to help them feel better. This is because bone broth boosts immunity and fights inflammation.
We can thank the amino acid L-glutamine for reducing gut inflammation. Bone broth is both soothing to the digestive system and easy to absorb. It is rich in protein called collagen, which is the most abundant protein in your body.
The amino acids in collagen build the tissue that lines the colon and the entire gastrointestinal tract, reducing digestive symptoms such as bloating. Bone broth is also rich in an amino acid called glycine that stimulates stomach acid production, which is essential for the proper digestion of any meal.
You can incorporate bone broth into your daily eating habits by drinking a cup before a meal, or after a meal, or when you first wake up, or before you go to bed. You can also use bone broth in many soups, stews, or stock recipes.
2. Meat on the Bone
This one might make your head spin if you grew up during the 80s, 90s, or early 2000s. Over the past few decades, “meat on the bone” has been portrayed as unhealthy, and we have been encouraged to eat lean cuts of meat for optimal health.
This has forced people to reach for boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, and boneless steaks.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago when bone broth came roaring back into popular demand, making way for “meat on the bone,” which is a digestive superfood for the same reasons as bone broth. The connective tissues it contains are rich in collagen, glycine, and glutamine, which are important for digestive function.
As a bonus, these types of cuts are generally cheaper compared to boneless cuts.
Make sure to check out: Everything You Need to Know About the Mediterranean Diet
3. Fermented Foods
Trillions of bacteria live in your intestines; many of these are “good” bacteria that help to keep you healthy.
Think of these bacteria as pets living inside you; as with any pets, you’ve got to feed them. A westernized diet, heavy in processed foods and industrial seed oils, can upset the balance of your gut bacteria, which can lead to digestive problems. In contrast, fermented foods, such as unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir, contain beneficial microorganisms that positively affect several different aspects of gut health.
These foods are rich in probiotic bacteria, which means that you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your gut when you eat them. Thus, you are increasing the health of your gut microbiome and your digestive system.
Start with 4tbsp./day of fermented foods. You can add a couple of tablespoons of unpasteurized sauerkraut or kimchi to things like scrambled eggs or stir-frys, or you can eat it straight out of the container.
4. Cooked & Cooled Potatoes
Cooked and cooled potatoes are a type of resistant starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine. This means it actually “resists” digestion and reaches the colon intact. For this reason, you will not see a spike in either blood glucose or insulin after eating resistant starch.
In other words, you do not obtain significant calories from it.
The human gut has hundreds of thousands of bacterial species, some good and some not so good. The overall and relative quantity of each type has a profound effect on your health and well-being. Resistant starch selectively stimulates the good bacteria in your intestines, helping to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria. A great and easy food source of resistant starch is cooked and cooled potatoes.
The more times you heat your potatoes and let them cool, the more resistant starch will build up, feeding that good gut bacteria.
People have been cultivating and consuming ginger for millennia. In fact, people have turned to ginger to treat a wide range of ailments, but it’s especially known for its ability to help with stomach and digestive issues. Ginger has an elaborate chemical makeup. Scientists have identified 115 bioactive compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger and its metabolites tend to collect in the digestive tract. Researchers believe this is why so many of its benefits are related to the gastrointestinal system. It’s only logical that the bulk of ginger’s action would be taking place in the part of the body that holds it in the highest concentrations.
Ginger helps food move through the digestive system, which prevents the buildup of gas. Beyond its ability to reduce nausea and vomiting, many people can also use ginger to improve overall digestion.
The ginger root can be eaten fresh or in powdered form in all sorts of dishes. You can also add it to smoothies and elixirs.
Which Superfood Will You Try?
Now let’s bring this all together.
It may seem like quite a few new foods to add to your diet, but here are some ways to do that:
- Start or end your day with a cup of bone broth.
- Start eating more “meat on the bone” meat. Remember these are cheaper cuts!
- Pair your “meat on the bone” cuts with cooked and cooled potatoes, and add two tablespoons of unpasteurized sauerkraut to your plate.
- Keep fresh ginger on hand and add it to smoothies or elixirs, or simply boil some in hot water to make ginger tea.
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