Minor digestive disorders are commonplace today and more serious diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Chrone's Disease are on the rise. Many nutritionists and naturopaths point the finger to our modern diet as the culprit. The solution, they say, is the same as the cause: diet. Replace the foods that cause digestive disorders with foods that aid digestion and many digestive disorders can be overcome. These are some of the best foods for digestion, as recommended by the experts.
Yoghurt is one of the most frequently cited foods for better digestion. While it is a dairy product and many dairy products can be bad for digestion, especially for those who are lactose intolerant, yoghurt's secret lies in the healthy bacteria that are cultivated in the process of making it. These bacteria continue to flourish in the digestive tract, where they aid digestion. However, some commercial yoghurt do not contain live and active bacteria, so check the label first and buy yoghurt from a health food store or other natural foods distributor that sells only high quality yogurt with active cultures.
Lean Meat and Fish
While they do not actively aid digestion, lean meat and fish are recommended as a replacement for red meats and fatty meats. Poultry, "white" meats and fish are much easier to digest than beef and an association between these animal proteins and colon cancer has not been established as it has been with meats that are high in fat.
Kimchi and Sauerkraut
Kimchi, a mainstay of the Korean diet, and sauerkraut are two foods that actively promote better digestion. There are a couple of reasons for this. Both kimchi and sauerkraut are partially fermented foods. Like yoghurt, the fermentation process produces healthy bacteria that aid digestion. A main ingredient in kimchi and sauerkraut is cabbage, a vegetable that naturally contains healthy bacteria and also does not break down in the digestive process. This provides "bulk" to the diet and helps eliminate wastes.
Processed grains have become a large part of the average diet. They are found in breads, cereals and snack products everywhere. Many natural therapists argue that processed grains such as white flour are largely responsible for poor digestion. The reason is because most of the fibre is removed from the grains when they are processed. Whole grain products such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice contain digestion aiding fibre. However, take it slowly with whole grain foods. If you make the switch too quickly or over-indulge, it may cause gas and bloating. If you have ciliac disease or are gluten intolerant, avoid wheat and stick with a diet recommended by a qualified dietitian.
Many believe that bananas are the unsung "superfood". High in fibre and rich in electrolytes and potassium, they are said to be an ideal food to take if you are suffering from or recently had a bout of diarrhoea.
Pineapple is another fruit that can aid digestion. The "magic" ingredient in pineapple is bromelain. Bromelain helps break down proteins, making digestion easier. As a bonus, bromelain also has anti-inflammatory properties, which make pineapple also helpful in treating many inflammatory conditions.
Do you think of ginger as a food, a medicinal herb, or as a spice? It doesn't matter. Ginger is one of the oldest known natural medicines. Wherever it has been available, ginger has been used to treat nausea and aid digestion. Use it in moderation, though, because too much ginger may cause heartburn.
In general, most fresh fruits and vegetables aid digestion by providing necessary bulk to the diet. Because they are also nutrient rich and contain high levels of antioxidants, fresh, unprocessed plant-based foods should arguably comprise the largest part of our diet. Unfortunately, processed "convenience foods" have replaced a natural diet in modern culture and our bodies are paying a price for them. Fortunately, we do have a choice and can make the switch back to a healthy, natural diet and enjoy the benefits of better digestion and better general health.