Indigestion or gassiness is usually caused by overeating or eating oily and rich foods. But did you know that there are certain foods that actually help you improve your digestion system? Foods like apple, banana, whole grains, beetroot, avocado, and yogurt etc are considered to be the best food to boost digestion. They all possess vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients required for proper digestion of food. Like, apples are a good source of potassium, folate, Vitamin A and C. Bananas are rich in electrolytes and potassium, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, fiber and Vitamin A and so on. If you are tired of indigestion and wondering about how to improve your digestion and overall digestion system, then here’s the post worth checking. Today in this post we are going to discuss about the top 13 best foods to boost digestion and improve overall digestion system.
If you leave digestive problems untreated then it may lead to more serious complications like hemorrhoids, faecal incontinence etc. Most of the time, people ignore their digestive issues or try self-medications and consult a physician only when it becomes a chronic issue. Unsupervised self-medication causes serious side effects sometimes because there is no surety about the workings of a synthetic drug. So if you opt for curing your digestive troubles yourself, I suggest you try out these natural remedies mentioned below.
Best foods that’ll boost your digestion
Inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome – are all part of the digestive problems. According to Abbott’s Gut Health survey, 14% of India’s urban population suffers from constipation. Studies say, the percentage of constipation issues is higher than the worldwide average of 10%. The principal causes of digestive problems are our inconsistent diet consisting of little to no vegetables, spicy, oily, processed foods and low water intake. Sometimes too much stress or lack of proper sleep also causes digestive issues. All these combined causes are more than enough to give you digestive issues.
Let’s talk about the best foods to treat digestive problems in detail.
The reason why banana is the go-to food for every guy suffering from digestive problems is that it works.
Our digestive tract is chiefly, constructed of smooth muscles that contract and expand causing peristalsis. Potassium is the mineral that is essential for proper functioning of the smooth muscles. One banana provides about 500 mg of potassium, which is a bulk of your daily potassium requirement. Bananas contain insoluble fiber that adds bulk to your food and ensures smooth passage of it through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber keeps you satiated for a longer time and prevents constipation and other disorders like diverticular disease. Bananas contain fructooligosaccharides, a prebiotic that feeds the healthy gut bacteria in your body. When the beneficial bacteria have good growth and development, they can preempt the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Bananas are fortuitously, recommended to tend to both diarrhea and constipation, and their advantages extend to the complete digestive system.
Our digestive tract is home to many good bacteria that are vital for metabolic function; Yogurt contains probiotics that aids the digestive system to work properly. Note that not all yogurt contain these beneficial probiotics so keep a look out for the label, “live active cultures.”
Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis and streptococcus thermophilus are the most common bacteria found in yogurt, but there are other strains of beneficial bacteria as well such as l. rhamnosus and l. casei. Lactobacillus acidophilus is a bacterium that helps digestion in the small intestine. It ameliorates lactose digestion and mitigates symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Bifidobacterium lactis improves digestive ease. According to a study published in the 2009 in the Journal of Digestive Disease, this strain of bacterium helps diminish the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Additionally, it prevents constipation and irregularity and may help prevent chronic digestive illnesses in future on regular consumption.
Streptococcus thermophilus wards off lactic acid bacterium that can hinder proper digestion of food. This bacterium soothes the stomach and reduces symptoms of lactose intolerance. Streptococcus fights different digestive issues like diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain and indigestion.
Whole grains consist of all the parts of kernel intact – endosperm, germ and bran. Refined grains have their germ and bran removed, leaving only the endosperm behind. Some popular whole grains include oatmeal, quinoa, barley, buckwheat and so on. The fiber present in whole grain helps your digestion in a way or two. Fibers are not, digested by the body and they bulk up stool and impede constipation. According to this study by NCBI and, the fiber in whole grains act as prebiotics and feed the good bacteria in the gut, which is essential for proper digestion. Consuming high-fiber foods relieves pressure in the intestine and keeps away diseases like diverticular disease, in which pouches are formed in the colon leading to swelling and inflammation.
One apple contains over 4 gms of fiber, which makes an ultimate high-fiber food to be, added to your diet. Apples are a good source of pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber that acts by binding fatty substances in the digestive tract, including toxins and cholesterol, enhancing their elimination from our body. The fiber in apples not only expands your intestine to help make you feel satiated but also helps detox your body.
Apples are beneficial for your body’s digestive system because pectin maintains the body’s sugars and cholesterol while cleansing the bloodstream and digestive tract. Eating high-fiber food is, linked with reduced risk of IBS and cancers of the digestive tract. The phytonutrients present in apples protects the organs of the digestive system from oxidative stress, balance pH levels and alkalize the body. Pectin in apples is a natural diuretic and has mild laxative properties, which is helpful in fighting excess water retention and bloating. Eating apples with their skin on will help maintain your gut flora and keep away the digestive problems.
Vitamin C found in avocados boosts digestive health. Our digestive tract contains collagen, a type of protein that is responsible for tissue strength. Collagen fibers wrap around our intestinal walls and Vitamin C promotes collagen growth to maintain tissue strength. A cup of sliced avocados contain about 7.3mgs of Vitamin C which is 8% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C for adult men and 10% for adult women.
A diet rich in Vitamin C prevents gastric cancer, according to Linus Pauling Institute. Avocados contain fibers, which do not break down into energy but absorb water to soften the stool. This helps avoid constipation. Avocados are also rich in Vitamin B-complex. B-complex Vitamins support healthy digestion as they help the cells derive fuel from our food.
The dietary fiber in red beetroot comes with the added bonus of preventing diverticular disease, which is associated with nausea, bloating, IBS etc. Beetroot is also rich in Vitamin B9 or Folate. If you maintain a diet rich in folate, it will prevent the onset of colon cancer. Folate also promotes cell growth, so it is associated with tissue repair, including repairing the tissues in our digestive tract. Around 225 grams of beetroots contain about 148 micrograms of folate, which is 37% of our daily folate requirement.
Beetroots are rich in an amino acid called Betaine. Betaine dissolves digestive problems by increasing the level of stomach acids. People with low stomach acids experience myriad digestive issues that betaine is able to help with. Around one cup of beetroots contain about 175g of betaine which can seriously boost the digestion system, when consume frequently.
Papaya is considered to be the best food for digestion and eating papaya can be really beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Papaya is an excellent source of papain, an enzyme that breaks down amino acids and help in the digestion of protein. Most enzymes need acid for activation but not papain. People suffering from IBS or leaky gut should add papaya to their diet to treat these digestive problems.
Since Papaya is rich in fibers, which is especially helpful when you need to digest the excess food you have consumed. Additionally, since papaya is a soft fruit, it does not need much digestion itself, some of its enzymes may pass into the small intestine before excess stomach acid is, produced. Once papain and other papaya enzymes reach our intestine, they aid in eliminating the protein-based debris and other waste products.
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious but also high in fiber. The main constituent of sweet potatoes is starch, which makes it easier to digest. They are also rich in magnesium, which makes them even more helpful in aiding proper digestion. The potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-complex, calcium, beta-carotene and dietary fiber in sweet potatoes prevents constipation thereby, preventing the formation of acid as a, result of constipation. This considerably reduces the risk of stomach ulcers. The anti-inflammatory qualities of sweet potatoes have a soothing effect on the stomach and intestine.
The atomic structure of lemon water is similar to the digestive secretions of our stomach, tricks the liver into secreting bile, which in turn helps food keep moving smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract. The acids in lemon juice process the beneficial elements of our food at a slower rate. A slower rate of absorption means, you get maximum nutrients from the food you consumed and your insulin levels remain steady.
Better nutrient absorption is directly proportional to reduce bloating. Lemon water is advantageous for the proper functioning of enzymes in your body, boosting liver functions and flushing out the waste and toxins. Add the juice of a lemon to a glass of lukewarm water and drink it in the morning to keep any digestive problems away.
Ginger is a super-food that is, hailed, as one of the best natural remedies for digestive problems. According to this study, ginger was successful in increasing the rate of emptying the stomach by 25% compared to a placebo in people suffering from indigestion. According to another study, ginger capsule with a meal actually doubled the speed of stomach emptying. Several studies reveal that ginger is effective against stomach ulcers. According to one particular animal study, ginger powder protected against aspirin-induced stomach ulcers by reducing the levels of inflammatory proteins and ceasing the activity of enzymes associated with ulcer development. Add ginger powder to smoothies or grated ginger to soups and salads to enjoy the full benefits of the vegetable.
Cucumber is a well-known source of roughage, which is good for people suffering with constipation, especially in Ayurveda. It is a good source of magnesium that hydrates the gut and digestive lining of the body warding off digestive problems. Cucumbers have an alkalizing effect, which helps in maintaining the pH level of the body and eliminate acidity. Cucumbers are superb source of pectin, a soluble fiber. According to this study, pectin sped up the movement of intestinal muscles while feeding the good bacteria in the gut that enhances digestive health.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish, which is a fermented probiotic food. Some of the primary ingredients of Kimchi include cabbage, cucumber, radish, scallion, ginger, garlic, red pepper powder and chili paste. The longer kimchi ferments, the greater is the benefits of the dish. According to the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons repopulating the good gut bacteria is important in preventing the pathophysiology of some gastrointestinal problems.
The probiotic bacteria in Kimchi help to diminish harmful gut bacteria, that cause inflammation, indigestion and in some cases, hormonal change. Fermented foods are good for people who are suffering from digestive problems ranging from constipation to leaky gut, candida virus and autoimmune disorders. Kimchi is not only a rich source of probiotics but also of fiber. Increased fiber intake is beneficial for keeping away digestive problems like diverticulitis, duodenal ulcer, hemorrhoids and so on.
Salmons are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. It is also quite low in fat and cholesterol. Baked salmon is good for your digestion. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that suppress abdominal pain, bloating and cramping. While choosing salmon, go for the wild Alaskan ones, since they are, not fed genetically modified food.
Over to You
Avocados, bananas, yogurt, salmon, apple, cucumber, ginger, beetroot, kimchi, lemon water, papaya and sweet potatoes – are all beneficial too keep digestive problems at an arms length. They are rich in fiber and feed the good bacteria in the gut to enhance the gut flora. You could correct your digestive issues with over-the-counter drugs but the best way to get a permanent solution to digestive problems is by natural foods and maintaining a healthy diet. Adding the above ingredients to your diet would do you good in the end.
Although beneficial, some of these foods might give you an upset stomach sometimes like, kimchi contains several spices which might be detrimental if you are sensitive to spice. It seems that regular intake of lemon juice erodes away the enamel, so keep your lemon intake in check. If you are facing allergic reactions from consuming papaya or sweet potatoes, it is best to consult your physician to moderate their intake.
That being, said the benefits of these foods outweigh their side effects vastly. The essential vitamins, minerals and roughage present in them constitute a major part of our daily value of nutrient requirement. A weak digestive system and digestive problems are a common occurrence among most of the millennials. Are you one of them? Then try these remedies today and let me know which one worked best for you.
Until then, stay fit and healthy!
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.