8 Superfoods for Healthy Digestion
We experince stomach pain or digestive issues for many reasons. Some of them will be physiological and some emotional, and some realted to a medical condition. Whatever the reason, most of the digestive issues can be resolved, or at least controlled, by adjusting the diet, in addition to getting appropriate medical or complimentary treatment. Here are some of the best superfoods that will help yout tummy feel happy at all times.
We value this simple, originally South Indian, spice for its versatile taste that works with most savoury dishes. But black pepper is more than just a flavour enhancer. The chemical compound piperine, abundantly present in black pepper, is pure gold for your digestive system. It eases digestion and stimulates the stomach, which then secretes hydrochloric acid that helps to break down certain proteins in food. A bit of pepper in your food will actually help you to digest it faster.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the tastes of ingredients also determine what organs and meridians they target. Black pepper is “pungent” and “hot”, and is believed to target the Stomach and the Large Intestine meridians. Pungent ingredients like black pepper tend to promote the circulations of qi and body fluids.
Not surprisingly, Western herbal medicine recognizes the warming properties of black pepper, and recommends it for improved digestion, enhanced circulation, clearing congestion and relieving coughs and colds.
Ginger has been an important cooking ingredient and a root with multiple healing properties in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
Studies have shown that food sitting in the stomach for too long is one of the main causes of indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Ginger helps food move faster through the stomach by promoting healthy stomach and intestine contractions (peristalsis).
The most famous use for ginger in traditional Chinese medicine has always been to treat stomach pains and poor digestion. In TCM, ginger is considered “warm” in nature. This means that ginger can help people with too much “cold” in their body. And, of course, we need lots of good “heat” in the stomach to promote that churning and healthy digestion.
On top other benefits, ginger can help promote appetite, ease constipation, strengthen metabolism, and stop diarrhea. Ginger can also improve fluid metabolism and reduce swelling.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains "mother", or strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria. Which is what gives unfiltered vinegar its “murkiness” when shaken and is believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits.
The theory is that apple cider vinegar increases the acidity of your stomach, which helps your body create more pepsin, the enzyme that breaks down protein. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.
Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses vinegars to support proper movement in the Liver and Gallbladder meridians, classifying the action as generally absorbing, consolidating, and tightening or astringent.
Kimchi is trending in the wellness and natural medicine industries lately, and for a good reason. It’s a spicy Korean fermented vegetable dish got famous for containing good amounts of natural probiotics, or the friendly gut bacteria, crucial for healthy digestion and gut health.
The fermentation process creates healthy gut bacteria, mainly Bacillus species. Similarly to sauerkraut, kefir or yoghurt, kimchi repopulates you gut with lactobacteria, but because kimchi contains other superfoods like radish, ginger, black pepper and chili, it offer extra goodness like improved stomach juice secretion, increased absorption in the gut and bowel evacuation by promoting healthy peristalsis.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, incorporating fermented foods into the daily diet and getting regular acupuncture treatments that help balance out the body’s qi, can lead to a very healthy gastrointestinal tract. And when the gut is happy, the body is happy.
Most importantly, your honey has to be raw, if you’re after its digestive health benefits. There are lots of brands that sell heat-processed honey, and in the process of heating high temperatures destroy digestive enzymes, in which honey is so rich when consumed raw.
Honey contains fours important digestive enzymes:
• Invertase - breaks down sucrose, a type of sugar, into glucose and fructose
• Protease - breaks down proteins into amino acids
• Diastase - breaks down starch into maltose
• Amylase - breaks down starch into sugars like glucose and maltose
In traditional Chinese medicine, honey is associated with the Lung, Large Intestine, Spleen and Stomach meridians. Its main functions are to tonify the stomach, help churn those digestive juices, prevent dryness, and restore qi. Honey is often added as an ingredient to the herbal pills, to help improve absorption.
Papaya is another superfood rich in digestive enzymes. This sweet and light fruit contains papain, a digestive enzyme that helps digest proteins. Papain is often available as a digestive supplement, because many traditional, meat-based diets can create extra need for assistance when breaking down complex animal source proteins.
Many Western medicine studies have shown that papaya can help relieve symptoms of IBS, constipation and bloating.
In traditional Chinese medicine, papaya, or papaya extract, is used to treat intestinal worms, soothe indigestion and stomach aches.
And it’s not just the fruit itself, its seeds also have multiple health benefits. Papaya seeds are rich in essential micronutrients, especially in polyphenols and flavonoids, important antioxidants that help fight disease-causing free radicals, oxidative stress and high cholesterol.
Who doesn’t love a ripe, juicy mango as a snack or dessert on a hot summer day? This summery fruit doesn’t just taste good, it’s also good for you.
Mangoes contain amylases, a group of enzymes that break down complex carbs from starch. The amylase enzymes become more active when the fruit ripens. So the more ripe your mango is, the better it is for your stomach.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the micronutrients in mango can help detoxify all of the body systems, strengthen metabolism and kill dangerous bacteria in the intestines. By strengthening the metabolism, mango not only can contribute to the weight loss, but also can benefit cardiovascular health by helping fight high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Although many modern day diets criticise grains for being “too carby”, whole grains deliver a variety of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other healthy plant compounds.
And, most importantly, whole grains are also classified as prebiotic (as opposed to probiotic) and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
In fact, a lengthy list of studies compiled by the Whole Grains Council have shown that whole grains are superfoods that can:
• Optimize heart function
• Improve your mood
• Help your gut microorganisms work at their best
• Improve your body’s insulin sensitivity
Traditional Chinese medicine refers to "coarse grains" , and recommends many kinds of congees for general health and keeping the digestive system in good shape. Rich in fiber, whole grains eaten regularly promote movement of the bowels and help detoxify the system, help prevent hemorrhoids and cysts in the colon.