We all know the discomfort when our digestion is out of sync and every meal just feels like we are stacking more food on top of what's still in our body.
There is lots of food out there, though, that can help your body to get back on track. While elements like stress, lack of sleep or an irregular sleep-wake rhythm are detrimental to digestion, we can help our digestive tract to work properly by upping our daily intake of fiber.
Fiber is one of the most important elements needed for a healthy and regular digestion. It helps to bulk up your stool and plays a big role in flushing out waste, which is often the cause of constipation. The recommended amount of fiber is at least 25 g per day for women under 50, for men under 50 it’s 38 g as a minimum.
The following 5 digestion-boosting foods are loaded with fiber, so make sure to stock up on them today.
1. Natto And Other Fermented Foods
This Japanese miracle food and a staple in a Japanese diet is made by fermenting soybeans. It’s loaded with fiber, which helps your body to get rid of waste materials and carcinogens. It has an ‘acquired taste’ but a long list of benefits, one of which is a healthy digestion. Many Asian supermarkets in the West stock natto in the freezer. Kimchi and sauerkraut have a similar effect on your gut, for those who cannot stomach natto.
Beans contain lots of soluble fiber. The fiber is not digested but turned into a kind of gel which makes passing through your intestines easier. Careful: Some people react to eating beans with bloating, so start by slowly adding small amounts to your diet and see what it does for you. You can reduce bloating by soaking beans in water for 24 hours or even longer before cooking.
Black Beans have a real super power: 1 cup black beans contain 15 g of fiber, so more than half of your daily recommended intake.
3. Dried Figs Or Prunes
Both dried figs and prunes are known to be natural laxatives. They are rich in insoluble fiber which draws water into the colon, which in turn makes bowel movement and passing of the stool easier. Have one or two dried figs or prunes in the evening before going to bed. You will see the result in the morning!
Vegetables and fruits are generally high in fiber, however if we would have to name a type of fruit that you should eat for a healthy digestion, it would be apples. Apples contain lots of fiber, they are available all year round and are an affordable fruit for every wallet.
5. Oats And Whole Grains
A warming bowl of cinnamon spiced oats with some fruit for breakfast and you are off to a great start, as oats and whole grains are full of soluble fiber and will add bulk to your stool. For an extra boost, sprinkle some raisins, almonds or pumpkin seeds over your oats. Generally, it’s highly recommended you substitute white wheat with whole grains - think whole grain bread, barley, or brown rice.
3 Additional Tips With A Big Impact On Digestion
- Staying well hydrated is key to keep digestion on track, so make sure to have that water bottle close by or sip on some unsweetened herbal tea during the day. A personal favorite is Barley Tea. One of its long list of benefits is its contribution to a healthy digestion. Do I have to say more?
- Our sleep-wake rhythm contributes a great deal to a regular digestion. Try to have meals at the same time every day. Also not eating for 12 hours or more (called Intermittent Fasting, heavily promoted by nutritionists of late) helps to reset our digestive system.
- Sit down for your meal and focus on nothing else but your food. If you chew your food well you expose it to more saliva, which helps break down the food and makes things so much easier for your digestive organs. Chewing well is half the battle won.
Still Not Convinced You'll Get Your Bowels Moving?
A little trick I learned from the ancient tradition of yoga is to sit on my heels (Thunderbolt position or Vajrasana) after a meal, knees together, toes touching behind the buttocks. Thunderbolt increases blood flow to your digestive organs which gives them a real boost. Fifteen minutes in this posture after a meal will do the trick.
If you haven’t had regular digestion for a while, it will take a few days or even weeks for it to get into a new and healthy rhythm. So make sure you eat a healthy diet full of fiber, and generally eat the rainbow of fresh food and avoid processed food. Be patient and make sure you relax, as nothing is worse for your digestive function than stress and the additional pressure you put on yourself.