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Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion

Digestive Health 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion
Bowel movements rarely pass for pleasant conversation, but we also agree that the happiest bowel movements are the ones that pass easily.

Your bowel is an amazing fluid-absorbing organ. Its job is to absorb most of the fluid (about 90%)—food, water, digestive juices and bile—that enters it daily. As a result, altering this fluid absorbing balance consequently alters the consistency of your bowel movements.

Just as the earth has an ecosystem, our bowels are an ecosystem that supports and nourishes us. Hence, proper elimination and strong bowels go beyond serving your physical health. They are just as important to your mental health. Without this healthy ecosystem in place we become malnourished, toxic, emotionally stressed or sick.

Maintaining Your Digestive Health with the Right Bacteria

The key to balancing your bowel is consuming 'friendly' bacteria, or microflora, known as probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are just two tongue twisting examples of the friendly bacteria that live in a healthy bowel. These microbes communicate at all times with our enteric nervous system, located in the intestines and commonly referred to as the second brain.

In fact, scientific research has discovered that the same receptor sites for neuropeptides and other brain chemicals that exist in our brain are also present in our gut. Scientists use the term neurogastroenterology, but we regular people just know it as gut instinct. We now know that the gut and the brain work together.

So, to help your head and belly team up to keep life running smoothly, here's your guide to having happy, healthy bowel movements.

Your bowels are made up of three main sections: the ascending colon or large intestine, the transverse colon, and the descending colon or small intestine.

Naturally occurring bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, enhance intestinal function and compete with and suppress pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, molds and viruses. They also regulate and stimulate immune system activity.

We are born with these friendly bacteria in our digestive tract. Over time and throughout a person's life, our gut can become unbalanced or overrun with bad bacteria. But you can restore balance through diet and supplements.

7 Foods for Better Digestive Health

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Fermented Food
Fermented Foods

Your gut is home to around 100 trillion microorganisms. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and plain yogurt provide your gut with trillions of units of probiotics. Not only do fermented foods replenish friendly flora, but they are also full of enzymes that bolster your digestive health.

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Amino Acids
Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks for enzymes and are crucial to good digestion. Amino acids help strengthen the immune system, purge unhealthy bacteria and rebuild new gastrointestinal cells. When combined with probiotics, amino acids work synergistically to detoxify and heal many gastrointestinal disorders, from diarrhea to parasites to gallbladder disease. Nuts, fish, and eggs are some of the main sources of amino acids.

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Chia Seed
Chia Seed

Is a bulk mucilaginous herb, which means it makes a gel when mixed with water and helps move your bowels along your intestines. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants and provide a high fiber, low calorie and gluten free source of plant protein energy. Just a handful of these tiny, highly digestible chia seeds sprinkled in salads, smoothies or omelettes will provide you hours worth of energy and act as an effective yet mild laxative.

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Ginger

Fresh ginger root improves hydrochloric acid production, the gastric juice that breaks down the food you ingest. Adding fresh ginger to meals, or enjoying a cup of ginger tea after meals, can ease indigestion, reduce gas, bloating and flatulence. Ginger can also speed up your metabolism by breaking down fats and proteins, converting them into energy, more easily. Ginger is also a mild stimulant and can help increase circulation - but most of all, it improves digestive health.  

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Coconut

Coconut oil and coconut water contain healthy saturated fats that are integral to healing your gut. These types of fat are used by the liver which immediately converts them into energy for brain and muscle rather than storing it as fat. The lauric, capric and caprylic acids in coconut oil have antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties which benefit digestion. The healthiest coconut oil is organic, extra virgin and cold pressed.

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Fish Oil
Fish Oil

For people with chronic inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis, the essential fatty acid or Omega-3 (EPA), found in fish oil, can help ease the symptoms. You can get your fish oil from oily cold water, wild caught fish such as salmon and mackerel, from fish oil liquid or in gel capsules. Fish oil is rich in both Omega-3 and Omega-6 (DHA), but our bodies are usually deficient in Omega-3 so you will want to take a fish oil supplement that provides a higher ratio of EPA to DHA in the smallest doses.

Digestive Health: 7 Foods for Healthy Digestion - Bone Broth
Bone Broth

Bone broth has been used as an essential healing food for digestive health since ancient times. The broth from grass-fed beef bones or organic chicken bones is extremely nutritious. Bones can be boiled and simmered for many hours, releasing minerals that contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and other essential minerals. Bone broth improves the immune system, helps digestion, lessens food sensitivity, aids in weight loss, and helps fight bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

While these foods may improve digestive health, this is not intended as medical advice. Consult your physician or registered dietician before beginning any diet or supplement program.
Written by Kim Alyce Steffgen
With a background in journalism and marketing communications, Kim's wordsmithing reflects a love of language that brings spice to many ads, articles, banners, and videos. To that spice she adds her passion for herbs, plants and alternative health.
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