Constipation, bloating, and other gastrointestinal difficulties can have a serious impact on your quality of life. But the good news is, there are easy things you can do to improve your digestive health and regularity. One strategy is to make some slight changes to your diet.
That's right! What we eat can play a major role in our digestive health and regularity. So if you're looking for ways to feel better daily, consider adding these top foods that are known for promoting better digestion into your diet. From fiber-filled legumes to probiotic-rich Greek yogurt, these powerhouse foods will get you feeling regular before you know it. Let's take a look at some of the best ingredients for better digestive health and regularity!
High-Fiber Foods: The Macro Nutrient for Digestive Health
When it comes to improving your digestive health, there's one macro nutrient you should focus on: fiber. Eating the recommended daily amount (roughly 25-30 grams for women and up to 38 grams for men) promotes regularity, decreases your risk of numerous digestive problems, and helps you absorb more of the vitamins and minerals found in other foods.
Fiber is easy enough to come by—and it can be delicious, too. Foods like apples, pears, beans, avocados, nuts and seeds are great sources of both soluble (which slows digestion) and insoluble fiber (which adds bulk to your stool). Whole grains like oats or quinoa, as well as veggies like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, provide additional sources of fiber. Try including any of these items in your meals or snacks throughout the week to make sure you consume enough fiber each day.
Probiotic Foods: For Good Gut Bacteria
No matter how many anti-bloat smoothies you drink, it's crucial to keep in mind that maintaining a balanced diet alone won't help your digestive system. Additionally, you must include probiotic items in your diet because they are teeming with beneficial bacteria that can promote healthy digestion and gut function.
The best (and tastiest!) options include:
- Yogurt – One of the most popular probiotic foods, it contains plenty of beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
- Kefir – This fermented drink is made from yogurt, which means it also has good bacteria to help promote regularity.
- Kimchi – This fermented Korean dish packs in a ton of beneficial bacteria and supplies other health benefits too!
- Sauerkraut – A classic fermeted cabbage dish widely available in stores. Not only does it have good gut bacteria, but its high fiber content helps keep bowel movements regular.
By adding these probiotic-rich foods to your diet, you'll be boosting your digestive system and helping keep things running smoothly!
Fermented Foods: Natural Digestive Aids
You might have heard the term "fermented foods" before and wondered what it meant. Fermented foods are made with beneficial bacteria that help your digestive system and provide relief of indigestion and irregularity. Here’s a great thing: some of these fermented foods taste delicious!
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are made with natural bacteria that help to break down fiber, balance out your intestinal micro flora, and improve digestion—all leading to regularity. Some examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, pickles and miso paste.
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
The health benefits of fermented foods include:
- Improved digestion
- Better absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Reduced inflammation in the digestive tract
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Stimulated immune system
- Protection against certain bacterial gut infections
Fermenting is a great way to enjoy a range of flavors while also protecting your body from toxins due to the antimicrobial compounds they contain. If you’re looking for digestive relief or regularity, one of the best ways is to regularly incorporate fermented foods into your diet.
Staying Hydrated: Why Water Is Important for Digestion
Did you know that water is important for digestion? Yep, it's true — water helps keep things moving in your stomach and intestines. It can also help break down food so it’s easier for your body to absorb the essential nutrients from it.
So how much water do you need? The answer can depend on your age, gender and individual lifestyle, but the average adult needs between 8 to 10 cups of water daily.
If you're looking for a source of hydration that’s a bit tastier than just plain old H2O, fruits like oranges, cantaloupe and honeydew are surprisingly high in water content — with oranges at an impressive 86%!
It’s important to note that caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea should not be used as all-day hydrators since they act as diuretics and make it difficult for the body to retain water.
Remember — drink up, stay hydrated and give yourself a healthier digestive system!
Leafy Greens: Nutrient-Dense for Digestion
Leafy greens are nutrient-dense and can aid your digestive system in a variety of ways. Dark, leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, and Swiss chard are among these plant-based forms of fiber and are excellent for bulking up stools and encouraging regularity. These greens' fiber content aids in feeding your microbiome's healthy microorganisms.
In addition to fiber, dark green leafy vegetables have many other beneficial components:
- They're packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation and improve gut function.
- They contain important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Iron, and Folate that boost immunity and support overall health.
- Vitamin K can even reduce the risk of certain cancers!
Just one cup of cooked greens per day is enough to give you all the benefits. You can easily up your intake by adding them to soups, salads, or stir fry dishes or try juicing or blending them into a smoothie. Leafy greens provide amazing nutrition that make them an essential component of a healthy digestive system—and an easy way to add more vegetables to your diet!
Healthy Fats: For Nutrition Absorption and Inflammation Reduction
Did you know that healthy fats are important for proper digestion? In addition to helping your body absorb essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats also reduce inflammation, which can be a contributing factor to digestive health issues.
So what kinds of fats should you be eating? Well, monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts are good for digestion. Polyunsaturated fats such as those found in salmon and other fish are also beneficial for digestive health. And omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds and walnuts are especially important for reducing inflammation.
There are also certain types of saturated fats that may actually help aid digestion. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fat that helps with digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Eating lard or tallow (rendered animal fat) on occasion is another way to get in some beneficial saturated fat.
If you're looking to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet try adding some nuts or seeds to your meals, adding olive oil to salads or cooked dishes, or having a small amount of avocado with meals or snacks. Healthy fat intake doesn't have to be complicated—just make sure you're getting enough so that your body can properly utilize all the nutrition it needs!
Eating a balanced diet of whole and minimally processed foods is the best way to ensure optimal digestive health and regularity. Eating foods that are high in fiber, probiotics, and antioxidants can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of digestive issues.
Incorporating foods like leafy greens, probiotic-rich foods, and fiber-filled foods into your diet can help keep your digestion regular and reduce inflammation. Adding a few of these top foods for better digestive health and regularity to your daily routine can be a great way to improve your overall digestive health.