Your diet plays a key role in digestive health, especially when it comes to avoiding digestive discomfort like bloating, cramps and indigestion. Your digestive system is hard at work from the moment you start eating, breaking down your foods to absorb their nutrients. Therefore, incorporating foods into your diet that support digestive health is essential not only for your digestion but also for improving your health overall.
Indigestion or dyspepsia is a term used to describe feelings of pain or discomfort in the middle or upper parts of your abdomen. It’s a commonly reported health problem among adults regardless of age, and its severity can range from being a mild inconvenience around mealtime to becoming a major health block. Fortunately eating the right foods can help you to get rid of indigestion and discomfort and improve your digestive health!
So what are some of the best foods you can eat to help improve your digestive health?
Sweet potatoes contain soluble fibre, which helps increase the good bacteria in your gut. They also contain potassium, which is often lost when one suffers digestive problems.
Fermented cabbages, like the sort found in kimchi and sauerkraut, contain probiotics and zinc, making them a good addition to the list of best vegetables for digestion.
Kimchi is made from fermented cabbages. It contains high amounts of probiotics and zinc, making it a superfood if you’re feeling a bit under the weather from digestive problems.
Just like kimchi, sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbages. It contains healthy amounts of probiotics and zinc, making it a great addition to your diet when getting your daily intake of veggies to help support your digestion.
Fun fact: there are almost 2mg of zinc for every cup of green peas. Peas are also high in fibre which can help stimulate the growth and health of gut flora in your large intestine.
Leafy green vegetables such as kale also contain plenty of fibre, which supports a healthier balance of good bacteria in the gut. Fibre, together with sufficient fluid intake, also moves easily and quickly through your digestive tract. This makes a high-fibre diet important to maintaining gut health. Leafy greens also contain important nutrients, like vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
Adjust your diet accordingly by increasing your daily intake of whole grains. Shop for products with at least three grams of dietary fibre. As noted above, fibre is important for digestion as it helps move food along the digestive tract all the way down to the colon where food waste is excreted. This process needs to run smoothly in order for you to avoid feelings of bloatedness or fullness. A blanket term for carbs that cannot be digested, fiber, is an essential intake that leaves the gut undigested for optimal health benefits. A minimum consumption of 24 grams of fibre for women and 38 grams for men, is recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Instead of fatty, red meats, beans might work well for your digestion. A half cup of beans provides the same amount of protein as one ounce of meat.
Yoghurt as a dairy-free dessert is also a popular option. The probiotics in yoghurt can maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut which is essential for efficient digestion.
When learning foods that improve digestion, one of the easiest starting points is steering clear from those commonly known to cause it. Here’s a list of foods to avoid that are common culprits when it comes to causing digestive issues:
Pepper, chillis, and even hot condiments are not things you want to eat a lot of or eat at all if you are experiencing indigestion. They are known to aggravate any indigestion issue you may have.
Citrus fruits and food products that contain them or their juices are also known to cause indigestion.
Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and sodas and any alcoholic drinks are common triggers of indigestion.
Fried and canned foods are also best avoided as oil or grease can irritate the stomach. You’ll want to significantly cut back on pastries, too, because butter can have the same effect.
Try to limit the amount of fatty or red meat you consume and opt for meats like fish or poultry as food to improve digestion. Fatty, red meats are known to be some of the most difficult foods to digest.
Eating smaller meals more frequently (as opposed to larger meals eaten two or three times a day) can ease the stress you put on your digestive system when it works to process large volumes of food.
Resting after every meal allows your food to settle into your digestive system. Avoid doing any rigorous exercise, running, or walking for long distances at least three hours after a meal.
It’s also recommended that you don’t eat too late at night, before bedtime. The position you take when you lie down isn’t conducive for efficient digestion as stomach acids, fluids, and enzymes may move upwards in the gastrointestinal tract when they should remain in the stomach.
Eating a variety of vegetables is a great way to improve a balanced diet and support your digestive health. But if you can’t consume all the nutrients you need from a healthy diet alone, supplementation can work well alongside your daily diet plan.
Mineral and vitamin supplements can work well with a well-rounded diet to up your essential nutrient intake and support digestive health. Maintaining regular bowel movements by consuming the right foods and fluids, and following proper medical advice are key to maintaining your gut health.
Some of the most important nutrients that can help promote digestive health include:
Zinc is important for overall health and supports the immune system in fighting illness. This mineral also helps our body digest and absorb nutrients.
Probiotics is the umbrella term for all the good bacteria and other microorganisms that can be found in our body. These may support a healthy digestive system function by helping our body absorb nutrients, fight off bad bacteria, and also produce essential vitamins such as vitamin K and biotin.
Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric and is known for its powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also aid in digestion and maintain our digestive system health.
If you want to consider supplementation to help boost your digestive health, Vitable has a personalised vitamin subscription box that delivers to anywhere in Australia. Pair these with a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can ensure that you receive the right support for your digestive health and beyond.
Click here to take our quiz and let us help you find the right vitamins for your health goals, lifestyle and diet. It’s time to feel good like you should!
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.