Increased consumption of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and soda is not only bad for your weight; it wreaks havoc on your digestive system. It’s estimated 60 million Americans suffer from acid reflux (this figure does not include other digestive issues) at least once per month.
Many of those who suffer turn to pills for relief. One in ten Americans was prescribed a GI pill in 2007. In 10 years, that number has jumped from 1 in 15 to 1 in 10, and it continues to grow as we spend less time worrying about our digestive health and more time eating unhealthy food. But a pill doesn’t have to be the answer to your stomach problems. For minor discomfort, a change of diet may be all you need. There are several foods that aid in digestion naturally, and when added to your diet, could offer the relief you need.
Avocados are one of the most fiber-rich foods known to man. They are full of healthy fats, well-digested by virtually everyone, and extremely tasty! Not only are they an excellent gut-healthy food, they also serve as a protection against heart disease and diabetes, improved skin tone and irritation, and reduces joint inflammation.
To get more avocado in your diet, try using it on toast or sandwiches instead of mayo. They also go great on salads and even in smoothies!
This fermented cabbage contains beneficial bacteria, so it has the same digestive health benefits of yogurt but none of the digestive problems that some people have with dairy. Plus there’s an added bonus with eating sauerkraut: fiber.
Fermented foods, including Kefir, (fermented milk), sourdough, kombucha (fermented tea), kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), and miso (fermented soybean paste), contain healthy bacteria as well.
Bananas are high in potassium and help restore normal bowel function to those suffering from diarrhea. They restore electrolytes and are a good source of fiber. If you need a gluten-free fiber option, bananas are it.
This strange-looking root has been used to safely rid people of nausea, morning sickness, motion sickness, colic and many more gastrointestinal issues, for thousands of years. Ginger can be consumed in food or drink form. Popular ginger drinks include ginger ale and ginger tea. If you decide to drink the cure, you’ll want to make sure you are drinking a beverage with real ginger and not ginger flavoring.
A word of caution: ginger’s spicy zing can have the opposite effect when taken in large amounts so consume it in moderation.
Another natural stomach soother is peppermint. You can chew on its leaves or drink it in tea to calm a nervous or full stomach. If you have problems with acid reflux, you may want to avoid peppermint and substitute chamomile tea instead, as peppermint can relax the sphincter where the esophagus joins the stomach.
A healthy adult needs 20-30 grams of fiber a day. Many of us get half of that. Adding more fiber to your diet is important if you have digestive issues. Foods such as quinoa, oats and brown rice, fruits and veggies are good sources of fiber. Fiber is not only great for digestion, but it makes you feel fuller longer and lowers cholesterol.
As people age, their metabolisms slow as well. Add in the stress of travel, particularly at high altitudes, and increased fiber becomes even more important to keep the digestive system regular. If after adding more fiber (as well as the other foods on this list), to your diet you are still having digestive problems, it may be time to visit a specialist. You can find one on a site like ZocDoc, Vitals or RateMD.
If you’re battling digestive issues, try changing your diet and reducing your intake of processed foods and alcohol. Make meals a time of enjoyment not a rushed, stressful event. Add some of these beneficial natural foods that aid in digestion and see if you experience relief.