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Foods that help your digestive system

Foods that help your digestive system

Your digestive system is one of the most important systems in the body. Death begins in the gut. Chronic indigestion is a significant problem at the best of times, but finding the right foods to eat to make your gut happy can be just as much of a headache. 

A healthy gut breaks down your food into nutrients and energy for optimal bodily function. A gut in distress means that the nutrient train is derailed. It may start in your stomach with acid reflux or further down the intestines with spastic colon or irritable bowel syndrome.

Foods you eat become a nightmare because you don’t know whether it will cause bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn or crippling stomach pains.  

That’s why you need to keep a food diary. You need to know exactly which salad dressings and fizzy drinks will likely result in heartburn. Or if wheat and onions will cause you irritable bowel syndrome, and that piece of cheesecake and cappuccino you had for dessert will cause you pain – wind and diarrhoea because you have lactose intolerance, says the NHS.UK

Get to know your body and how it reacts to food and drink, and then plan your diet accordingly so that you don’t experience daily discomfort and that your digestive system is happy.

The triggers

Every person has their list of can’t have foods that they’ve imprinted on their brains from years of nasty episodes when their guts revolted. 

Some people have food allergies and intolerances, while others overgrowth harmful bacteria in their intestines that block the digestive processes. 

According to Medical News Today, it is best to:

  • Eat slowly and chew food properly as eating too fast hampers digestion.
  • Eat several smaller meals and in moderation. One large meal places a strain on the digestive processes.
  • Eat earlier in the day, and don’t lie down after a meal. Instead, go for a post-meal walk. 
  • Drink lots of water as this helps with absorption significantly when you increase fibre intake. The fibre absorbs the fluid, softens the stools and assists with bowel movement. Hard stools and constipation causes stomach pain. 
  • Grill, bake or air fry foods

Along with changing your meal habits, you need to know the common trigger foods and consciously avoid them to help restore your gut health. 

Rule number one is to lose the sugar, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, fizzy drinks, fruit juices and sugar-sweetened drinks. Sugar feeds harmful gut bacteria, which leads to overgrowth and destabilisation of the gut flora.

Instead, eat whole foods that were made by nature and not by machines in a factory. 

These you should avoid:

  • Chocolate, coffee and any caffeinated beverages. Rather swop to herbal teas that will help with digestion
  • Refined carbohydrates such as bread and cakes. Instead, bake a sweet potato or eat a fruit
  • Foods high in saturated fats – cheese and cream
  • Spicy foods like some curries. This may cause heartburn and discomfort for some people
  • Fatty foods like pizza, fried foods, burgers and chips could cause bloat, stomach pain and heartburn

Making the change

At least 30 grams of fibre a day works best when it comes to digestion, but you have to ease into eating more fibre. 

Fibre intake should come from whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, fruit and veg, beans, legumes and oats—some foods aid digestion in the stomach and others in the intestines.

But for those who bloat up and experience irritable bowel syndrome when they eat cereals and grains, it is best to up your fibre intake with fruit and vegetables slowly by introducing fibre portions every 4 to 5 days.  

To start, the experts recommend foods with soluble fibre such as apples, bananas and oats. 

The other recommended foods include:

  • Unsaturated fats: These fats, such as olive oil and nuts, should be consumed in moderation – less than 77 grams a day. The fat helps with the absorption of vitamins and combines with fibre for bowel movement.
  • Ginger: assists in digestion and in reducing bloating. Use fresh and powdered ginger to flavour meals and to make tea.
  • Vegetables with skin: Potatoes, beans and legumes, all have skins rich in fibre. Eating these with the skin stimulates the movement of stools out of the body.
  • Leafy green vegetables: Vegetables such as spinach, rocket and lettuce all contain nutrients that assist the digestive processes. They contain a sugar sulfoquinovose that feeds helpful bacteria instrumental in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
  • Fruits: Rich in fibre and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron, fruits are soothing and gentle on the digestive processes. They are generally the lightest foods to eat and pass through the intestines with ease. Their water helps soften stools, especially fruits like berries, oranges, apples, kiwi and bananas.
  • Whole-grains: The body breaks down these high fibre whole-grain foods such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain breads slowly, which helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Plain yoghurt; Yoghurt contains beneficial probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts that assist gut health. If you’re lactose intolerant, opt for a dairy-free probiotic from the health store or add fermented vegetables like pickles to your diet.
  • Kefir: This is a probiotic-rich fermented milk drink that promotes digestion and gut health. 

In conclusion, start slowly. 

Affinity Health has your back.

There are many reasons you would need to claim from medical insurance: hospital visits, specialist procedures and daily GP visits are but some of them—Call 0861 11 00 33 for assistance when obtaining pre-authorisation in each of these instances. 

General practitioner visits or daily cover visits also need pre-authorisation. If you visit a doctor who may not be on the Affinity Health network, you will need to pay the total consultation fee upfront and then claim it back from Affinity Health. 


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