The Sexy Digestion series is back. Today I will be covering healing foods that help on the road to your fairy-tale gorgeous tummy and intestines.
Since eating is something we do multiple times a day, most days of our life, it is a great place to incorporate some of Mother Nature’s nutritional medicine. Just by choosing the right foods, we can help out body break down, absorb and assimilate our nutrients easily, minimising gas, bloating and other digestive discomforts or problems. The process of eating and digesting takes up a huge amount of our energy every day and is lots of work for all our digestive organs. Let me tell you, they are sweating it out there big time for you! However, your stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine and liver will just love you if you chip in too.
How? Get these wonder foods into your guts ASAP! They assist with healing and digestion, plus taste delicious too. You’re welcome.
Including blended foods in your diet is an amazing strategy to help digestion. We’re talking raw green smoothies, superfood smoothies, raw soups, raw puddings and cooked soups. Why? The blending process means that the food is already broken down into fine particles, which equals less work for your system, which equals more energy conserved for repair. By incorporating blended meals into our daily intake, it lets our digestive organs have a bit of a rest, as opposed to eating a complex meal that we have to chew (and most people don’t chew anywhere near enough!), churn endlessly in the stomach, continue to break down in the small intestine, and so on. Blending the food also makes the nutrients in it more available and easily assimilated by the body. A high powered blender can break down cellulose (the fibrous part of fruit and veggies that we cannot digest), unlocking the goodness inside.
Blended foods are also great for packing in lots of healing nutrition. Green smoothies and raw soups are my favourite for this, as you can jam in a ton of goodness ready for your body to go to town on. Think spinach, kale, cos, chard and anything dark green and leafy!
Replacing either a solid breakfast, lunch or dinner with a blended meal is a great way to rest the digestive system a bit without fasting, optimising healing time. If you’re really suffering in the guts, you may like to consider having blended foods until dinner, like smoothies and soups, then a light evening meal.
Important tip: just because it is blended, does not mean we can skip the important step of digestion which is chewing. You need to still “chew” your blended meals in your mouth before swallowing in order to mix saliva with the food. Our saliva contains amylase, the enzyme needed to break down carbohydrates and sugars, which is a vital part of the digestive process.
Sauerkraut, we meet again my love. I am a bit of a sucker for fermented veggies. Read: totally gaga addicted to the stuff! You can check out why I think sauerkraut is totally sexy in an extended version, plus learn how to make it, here. For now, let’s recap what is has to offer you and your gorgeous digestive system in the form of probiotics and enzymes.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that we ideally want to have flooded throughout our digestive system. These pretty things help us maintain a healthy gastrointestinal flora, keeping the ugly bad guys (like candida albicans) at bay. When we make raw kraut we allow the vegetables to culture and this process grows millions of beneficial lactobacilli bacterium that we can then easily consume! The fermentation process also means that the vegetables become predigested, making their gorgeous vitamins and minerals highly bioavailable and readily assimilated in the body. This is particularly helpful if you suffer from digestive problems, such as damaged intestinal villi (like I do) because it helps make it easier to get the valuable nutrition out of our food. Combine this with the naturally occuring enzymes present in raw kraut, which aid in the digestion of different macro nutrients, namely fat, starches and proteins, and you have a super digestive aid! Due to these properties, sauerkraut has long been known as a highly effective way to help with either diarrhea or constipation. Yum, yum, yum.
Other fabulous cultured healing foods with similar qualities as sauerkraut include raw coconut yoghurt, kefir, miso, unpasturised apple cider vinegar, natto and kim chi. Get them into your life, baby!
Without a doubt, ginger is one of my favourite foods. I love the flavour it brings to juices and meals, or simply a slice added to my tea. What I love about it equally is it’s amazing healing properties for the digestive system. If you suffer from any kind of digestive discomforts or disorders, I strongly recommend the addition of this wonderful food to your diet. Here’s why:
Ginger both aids and soothes digestion by stimulating muscle contractions in the stomach which help pass food into the beginning of the small intestine. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a wonderful aid to an irritated and inflamed gastrointestinal tract. In fact, ginger has been used for centuries to effectively help with indigestion, gas and bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome, many of which are associated with low or irregular gastric mobility. Personally speaking, it has greatly helped me with the coeliac disease related digestive complications that I have experienced. I like to include it with denser meals to naturally help the digestive process, which is an old macrobiotic principle. I also up my intake of it if I have accidently come into contact with gluten and find it really does provide some comfort and relief to my system.
Easy ways to incorporate ginger as a healing food into your diet include adding it to your blended meals (such as green smoothies and raw/cooked soups), adding it grated into salads, using it in your favourite dressings and sauces, putting some into your sauerkraut, lightly sauteing the root in cooked dishes (great with asian foods such as healthy veggie stir fries), putting slices into miso soup or herbal tea (great with peppermint tea = star digestive duo), adding it to your juice, or pickling it in raw apple cider vinegar to use as a condiment.
What foods do you eat when you are having digestive problems? Which have you personally found to be most healing to the system?