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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nutrition for Happy Digestion

Gastritis, ulcers, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating and irritable bowel are unfortunately common in the lives of many.  Here are some suggestions as to how nutrition can help improve some of your digestive woes. 

       De-stress.  Easier said than done, but stress hormones play a big role in problematic digestion.  Meal and menu-planning ahead of time not only help balance your nutrition, but reduce a lot of the stress involved with mealtime.  Walking or moving around after a meal to helps combat heartburn and bloating as well as reducing stress.  

Keep Track.  Digestion problems are vary widely from one person to another and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  Noting what you eat and what symptoms you have goes a long way to helping you identify what are safe and what are problem foods.  Remember that just because a food may be more problematic doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat it again.  For example, a thick slice of raw onion on a burger may slay you, but a small amount of sautéed onions may be just fine. 

       Step away from the deep-fryer.  Fried foods are notorious when it comes to tummy troubles.  Limit fatty, fried foods in favor of more fruits and vegetables. 

       Fiber-up from real food.  On average, Americans consume about ½ of the recommended fiber we should be getting from our diet.  You may think that a simple solution is a couple extra-high fiber cereal bars, but often the isolated fibers that are added to processed foods don’t provide the benefits of naturally occurring fiber and sometimes cause more bloating and GI issues.  Apples, oats, pears, oranges, plums and carrots are examples of the soluble fiber that can help with diarrhea and IBS.  However, if constipation is the issue, insoluble fiber is the body’s regulator – so go for: bran, beans, corn and whole wheat.

       Go steady with water.  Water should be your beverage of choice.  Alcohol, Caffeine and Carbonated beverages can all cause problems with your digestion.

       3 picks for a happy gut: 1. Yogurt – a low-fat protein source full of gut-healthy probiotics.  2. An apple a day – from applesauce in the “brat” diet your mom fed you as a sick child, to a crisp tart apple as a midday snack, apples not only contain soluble fiber but also appear to improve the bacteria in your intestinal tract. 3.  Oats - a great way to maintain regularity without resorting to laxatives. 
The take-home message is that a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains and water coupled with regular nutrition will do more to improve your digestion than any single food product or item.  For more individualized nutrition help with digestive problems contact me for a consult.