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Five Foods For A Healthy Digestive System
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Sep 24, 2014
If you're experiencing bloating, belching, abdominal discomfort, or any other symptoms of an overburdened digestive tract, you may benefit from including one or more of the following foods in your diet - all are rich in nutrients that are particularly important to the health of your digestive system.
1. Red beets and beet greens
If you have a problem with constipation, red beets and their green tops may provide significant relief. Both are rich in fiber that can help keep waste materials moving through your small and large intestines at a healthy pace.
Red beets contain large amounts of potassium and magnesium, while beet greens are an excellent source of beta-carotene, iron, and calcium. All of these nutrients are essential to maintaining the health of your digestive tract lining and the smooth muscle fibers that create the waves of contractions that produce bowel movements.
Steaming is the healthiest cooking method for red beets and beet greens. Cut the greens off right where their roots meet the red beet heads. Give the greens a good wash with cold water and set them aside. Peel the skin off the red beets, slice them into 1/4 slices, and then cook them in a steamer for about 8-10 minutes or until they start to become slightly tender. At this point, place the beet greens right on top of the red beet slices, put the lid back on the steamer, and allow it to run for another 5-7 minutes or until the beet greens have softened up to a texture that you enjoy.
Try the beet greens and red beet slices with a bowl of rice or quinoa, along with some avocado slices. Don't add any sea salt to this dish before you try it, as beet greens are naturally salty.
Beet greens shouldn't be eaten more than a couple of times a week, as they contain an acidic substance that can weaken the enamel coating on your teeth if eaten too often.
If you don't enjoy beet greens, you should still consider buying red beets that have their green tops, as loose red beets are typically not as fresh as those that still have their green tops.
2. Yukon gold potatoes and sweet potatoes
If prepared and eaten with their skins, Yukon gold potatoes and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary fiber. They're also rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese.
I have consistently found Yukon gold potatoes and sweet potatoes to be effective in the treatment of peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers, and some stages of inflammatory bowel disease.
A simple soup made by blending together steamed Yukon gold potatoes or sweet potatoes along with freshly pressed celery juice or vegetable broth has worked wonders for many of my patients who have suffered from various ulcerations in their GI tracts. I have yet to come across a published study supporting this natural remedy, but I've seen enough people benefit from it to recommend it as a first-line approach for inflammatory lesions in the digestive tract.
One medium size avocado contains a whopping 15 grams of fiber, making it one of the most fiber-rich fruits that we know of.
Avocados are well digested by the masses, including toddlers and young children, and contain plenty of healthy raw fat, most of it monounsaturated. Few other fruits or vegetables contain as much healthy raw fat.
Healthy, raw fats are important to the health of your digestive tract for several reasons, the most important of which are to stimulate healthy functioning of your pancreas, gall bladder, and liver, and to provide an environment in which beta-carotene can be converted efficiently into vitamin A, which is the one vitamin that is absolutely essential to having a healthy mucosal lining throughout your GI tract.
Of the many varieties of oats on the market, the best choice is steel-cut oats, which are whole oat groats that have been cut into small pieces. No heat is used in making steel-cut oats, which leads to better nutrient preservation than other processing techniques that produce rolled oats or quick oats.
If you have to choose between rolled oats and quick oats, choose the rolled variety. Rolled oats are made with a steaming process that doesn't destroy many nutrients, while quick oats are made with dehydrating and pre-cooking processes, which typically leave oats nutrient-depleted.
Note: Oats, barley, wheat, and rye should be avoided if you don't react well to gluten.
5. Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil provides plenty of natural vitamin A, which we've already mentioned is essential to the lining of your digestive tract. It also provides natural vitamin D, which we know is a powerful immune system modulator, with research indicating that vitamin D may be critically important in preventing the development of autoimmune conditions, including those of the GI tract.
If you want to build and maintain a healthy digestive tract for the long term, you really have to take a holistic approach and address several areas of your life: your food choices, eating habits, exercise habits, resting habits, and your emotional health status.
But within the realm of your food choices, including red beets and their green tops, Yukon gold and sweet potatoes, avocados, oats, and cod liver oil in your diet are simple and concrete steps that you can take right away to improve the health of your digestive system.
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