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How to Eat: Improve Indigestion and IBS

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This food series is focused on how to eat clean and how to improve specific health conditions like cancer or hypertension. If we are making the effort to get proper nutrition from our diet, we also want to make sure we are digesting those nutrients well. This article will go over what foods are helpful for people who suffer from indigestion, Irritable Bower Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea or bloating.

IBS can be extremely frustrating since it may not always be consistent, and you are unsure of the cause and solution. You will find that you may have an obvious reaction to coffee, for example, one day but be completely fine on other days. It is important to know that food on its own does not cause IBS. If you have this condition, it means your digestive system can become over-stimulated due to hormones, muscles, nerves, or other conditions such as depression.

Prescription medication like Bentyl or Rifaximin are great tools to use for relief from symptoms of bloating, discomfort and more, but we can also be proactive through our diet and exercise as well. Even if diet may not cause IBS, it can help lessen the effects. Here are some things you can add to your grocery list to help minimize your indigestion.

Foods to Include

  1. Fibre-rich foods. All these foods are high in insoluble fibre, the portion of plant foods that cannot be digested by the body. Insoluble fibre absorbs water, thereby helping the passage of other foods and waste products through the gut. Start your day with fiber. Make a batch of steel cut oats (which are 100% whole wheat) in your slow cooker or just over the stove and you can have it for breakfast for days in a row. Alternate adding different fruits to add flavor and variety. If you find that cereal fibers do not work for you, stick to the soluble fibers you get from fruits and vegetables.
  2. Yogurt is also a great anti-indigestion food to have early in the day. You can have non-fat Greek yogurt for breakfast with granola, blueberries and a sprinkle of flax or sunflower seeds. Yogurt naturally contains live bacteria, which is necessary for microorganism balance in your digestive tract.
  3. Ginger or peppermint tea are both anti-inflammatory. A hot cup of either of these two teas will help aid digestion and ease irritation. Alternatively, you can add peppermint oil to room-temperature water or add ginger to your meals.
  4. Kombucha is a fermented tea is great for digestion and intestinal health. This sweetened black tea is naturally fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It is known for preventing excess yeast, calming effects and helping proper digestion.
  5. Sweet potatoes in your salad or dinner are a great source of fiber (especially if you leave the peel on). These nutritious and affordable potatoes will aid regular bowel movements and minimize the toxins in your digestive tract.
  6. Bananas can be added to low-fat frozen yogurt for dessert, to smoothies, or to breakfasts for their fiber. They are an easily accessible year-round fruit that can be consumed regularly to help digestion and minimize diarrhea.

Foods to Avoid

These foods are not harmful in moderation, and each person’s system is sensitive and reactive to different things. This list is simply for you to observe which items may be correlated with your indigestion, diarrhea, or irritation. Coffee can be a diuretic, so if you are more prone to diarrhea, you can watch to see how you are affected by your caffeine intake. Some of the other foods, like legumes and beans, while very nutritious, can cause you to retain gas and become bloated. Be sure to also pay attention to your portion control, as overeating can play a role in indigestion.

  • Caffeine & Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Sorbitol & Fructose
  • Nuts
  • Beans & Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes
  • Insoluble Fiber (often from cereals, etc)
  • Fried food
  • High trans fat meals
  • Dairy products

As this series emphasizes, what we choose to consume and avoid in our diet can directly help our health conditions. Making adjustments with our families on how we plan, shop and cook our meals will provide our bodies with intentionally nutritious foods instead of faster and easier meals that are high in sugars, sodium, and trans fat. Enjoy our healthy meals means we also want to feel well after we eat. We hope this overview of digestion-friendly foods and drinks will be an effective foundation for your digestive health, along with regular exercise and any necessary medications.

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