Millions of Americans suffer from a host of digestive disorders. Many of them are brought about by poor dietary choices. The process of digestion starts before food even enters the mouth.
Taking a few moments to think about the impact that the food choices we make have on our digestive and overall health is a worthwhile venture. To achieve optimal gut health one must put a little forethought into eating or be willing to suffer the consequences.
Albert Camus said “ Life is a sum of the choices me make.” Similarly, digestive health is a sum of the choices we make.
Digestion is a complicated process that involves a great number of biological players. Although we cannot see the process, we certainly can feel the results of something gone badly.
The digestive system is notorious for letting us know when we have made a “bad” food choice.
Unfortunately, bad food choices made over and over again often result in inflammation, digestive discomfort and even disease.
There are, however, some fundamental foods that are beneficial to keeping the gut healthy. These should be incorporated into your diet, especially if you have an irritated gastrointestinal tract or other digestive disorder.
Remember, more than 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so a happy gut means a happy body.
Here are six beneficial gut health foods to consider…
Protein is necessary for optimal immune function and is the framework upon which all biological systems are built, including the gastrointestinal system. If we do not consume enough protein, our body begins to break down muscle mass.
Good choices include free-range chicken and turkey, grass fed beef and free-range eggs.
Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash are all great choices for taming an inflamed digestive system. They are loaded with both soluble and insoluble fibers, which help to keep gut bacteria balanced.
Fiber is also essential to detoxification and regular bowel movements. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which keeps the immune system functioning well.
Foods such as sauerkraut, kimichi and kefir are loaded with beneficial bacteria that help the digestive process. These foods are not part of the modern diet and many people do not consume them, but the benefit they provide is amazing.
If you are sensitive to dairy stay clear of kefir or yogurt but enjoy a few tablespoons of fermented kimichi or sauerkraut daily for best results.
This bright orange spice soothes the digestive tract and goes right to the source of inflammation. Once turmeric is consumed it liens the digestive tract where it works to keep inflammation at bay.
Curcumin, a piece of turmeric, is readily absorbed into the bloodstream and helps the body make antioxidants. Many people with musculoskeletal pain take turmeric with great success.
Known as the powerhouses for the gut, cabbage and all of the cruciferous veggies including broccoli, sprouts, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bok choi contain glutamine.
Like glucose is for the brain, glutamine is for the gut. It is the preferred fuel source of the cells that line the digestive track. These cells will seek out glutamine over any other fuel choice.
High vegetable intake is associated with lower rates of colorectal cancer. Cabbage also contains a number of powerful antioxidants that help to reduce stomach and colon inflammation.
The slipperiness of onions and garlic make them perfect for coating the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. They form a protective coating, heal damaged tissue and reduce inflammation.
Onions are also one of the richest sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that boosts immunity, destroys free radicals and fights allergies.
In addition to adding these important foods to your diet, it is important to cut out processed foods, especially refined sugar.
Processed, packaged and fast foods offer no nutritional value and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Instead, choose whole foods as close to their natural roots as possible.
Drink plenty of filtered water, spend time outdoors each day, and adopt a regular sleeping pattern, develop coping mechanisms for stress and exercise daily.
All of these things will help to boost immune function and bring restoration to the body.