You’re not alone if you’re suffering from one or more digestive issues (e.g., gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, abdominal pain, or diarrhea). According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 60 to 70 million people are affected by one or more digestive diseases.
Certain conditions (e.g., Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, and Chron’s Disease) can worsen digestive issues. However, making a few positive changes to your diet and lifestyle may improve your gut health and ease your digestive discomfort.
Here are three foods to improve your digestion.
Chia seeds (scientifically known as Salvia hispanica L.) carry enormous health benefits. For starters, they’re a terrific source of fiber (10 g), calcium (179 mg), magnesium (95 mg), and potassium (115 mg). Chia seeds are also flavorless, so you can add them to just about anything.
Thanks to their high fiber content, chia seeds have the potential to slow the digestion process, allowing your body to absorb more nutrients, and ease constipation. Chia seeds absorb a lot of water; when this happens, they take on a gel-like consistency — like nature’s little stool softeners.
Here are a few ways to enjoy chia seeds:
- Chia Pudding with Granola and Berries
- Chia Seed Pancakes
- Strawberry Chia SmoothiePhoto: Elena Veselova via 123RF
Yogurt is a popular health food for good reason. One serving of plain yogurt contains calcium, vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, nearly 8.5 grams of protein, and several probiotics. Probiotics, also known as “friendly bacteria,” are essential to your body’s microbiome. They help balance your body by fighting harmful bacteria and restoring the good. Probiotics can also help your digestive system and support overall gut health.
Making yogurt involves adding live bacteria (or yogurt cultures) to milk. This process, also known as fermentation, creates lactic acid, which causes the milk to curdle, giving yogurt its thick appearance and unique flavor. Many store-bought yogurts have added ingredients and sugar. To ensure you’re getting the healthiest brand possible, read the label and choose the one with the fewest ingredients.
If plain yogurt isn’t your thing, here are some easy-to-make yogurt recipes worth trying:
- Custard Yogurt Toast
- Greek Yogurt Smoothie
- Greek Yogurt Oatmeal
Beetroots or beets are nutritious, brightly-colored, and versatile vegetables. Beets contain essential vitamins, minerals (vitamins A and C, folate, and manganese), and fiber. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of beets has 3.8 grams of fiber, which, as mentioned above, helps to bulk your stool and improve digestion.
Beets and beetroot juice also have many anti-inflammatory properties. According to one study, consuming beets (cooked or raw) can reduce high blood pressure and improve systemic inflammation. This is excellent news considering chronic inflammation can lead to several severe conditions, including heart disease, liver disease, and obesity.
Unsure of how to add beets into your diet? Here are a few ideas:
- Roasted Beets with Citrus
- Refrigerator Pickled Beets
- Beet Salad with Arugula and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dealing with digestive issues can be challenging to say the least. Still, a few diet and lifestyle changes could help ease uncomfortable symptoms and improve your overall gut health. If you’re struggling with digestive problems, consider adding some of these foods into your diet.