When you were young and fell ill with a bad stomach, recall what your mum did to ease your pain and suffering. Most likely, you were immediately put on a dahi-chawal (curd-rice mix) diet, given light moong khichri (soft-cooked meal of rice and pulses with turmeric and salt to taste) for dinner, and advised why the apples and bananas are good for you.
Grandma, perhaps, also passed the churan (Ayurvedic remedy for digestion) from Dadaji’s stock of medicines. Daddy advised that you should stop eating fast food, especially at dubious joints.
There you go. Your family has already given you the grounding on how to improve your digestion when your digestive system feels under assault and would rather lie low.
Let us begin with what you can eat.
1. Eat fruits that are lower in fructose:
2. Eat a lot of whole grains:
A study found that people who ate at least 3 servings of whole grains daily were 20 per cent less likely to die early when compared with people who ate less than one serving a day. The former also ran a 14 per cent lower risk of death from cancer and a 25 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease, according to the study. Whole grains contain vitamin E, zinc and niacin which can help promote overall eye health. They can make a person feel fuller, so they eat less, according to the American Heart Association – a good step toward weight loss.
3. Leafy greens and raw salad vegetables/fruits:
“Probiotics in food form are also known as ‘functional foods’ and they increase the diversity of gut flora in the large intestine,” functional medicine practitioner Danny Ly tells Live Science. “When ingested, the live bacteria ‘compete’ against potentially disease-causing microbes in the gastrointestinal tract to try and inhibit their harmful effects.” The good bugs in the gut dampen allergies and sensitivities, support the immune system, decrease inflammation, and enhance nutrient absorption, among other things.
- Yoghurts: In India, homemade dahi, curd, and buttermilk would make the cut. In western countries, it is yoghurts bought off supermarket shelves.
- Kefir: Studies suggest that kefir has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
- Soft cheeses: Probiotics, good bacteria that can contribute to gut and overall health, can be found in some types of cheese as well as in dietary supplements, fermented foods, and yoghurt. Typically, probiotics are in cheeses that have been aged but not heated afterwards. This includes both soft and hard kinds of cheese, including Swiss, provolone, Gouda, cheddar, Edam, Gruyère, and cottage cheese, says Harvard Health.
- Soy-based foods: Tempeh and miso make the cut.
- Kimchi: Most gut experts agree that kimchi – a Korean condiment made from fermented cabbage and spices – could boost levels of good bacteria in the gut, and as a result improve intestinal health.
- Unpasteurized sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, loaded with healthy gut bacteria that can optimize and balance our gut flora.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink more water:
Water helps flush out toxins from your digestive system and reduce the chances of becoming constipated. When you eat high fibre food or exercise a lot, your water intake must increas. Although there’s no official daily guidance on water intake, experts generally recommend that adults drink around 6-8 glasses of water every day.
The Bottom Line:
Apart from the above steps, also make sure you destress and unwind. Learn meditation. Take massages. Sleep well. Eat foods that have nutrients and fibre and the kind that does not trigger allergies in your gut. Eat mindfully. Exercise enough and seek a doctor’s guidance whenever necessary. Do not ignore symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or diarrhoea.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.