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Do you suffer with digestive issues? Try eating these three foods

Do you regularly experience bloating, gas, nausea, stomach pain or toilet troubles? If so, you may have a compromised digestive system. Unless you have a chronic condition like Crohn’s or irritable bowel disease (IBD), the good news is that you can improve your digestive system by adjusting your diet.

A healthy digestive system is centered around your gut health. From the moment of birth your gut is populated with bacteria from your diet, mode of birth (caesarean or vaginal birth), your environment and your genetic predisposition. As we get older, our gut’s microbial ecosystem changes depending on the frequency of illness and disease, medications (particularly antibiotics), lifestyle habits and most importantly: your diet.

Populating your gut with healthy bacteria is possible and a recommended treatment for individuals experiencing gastrointestinal issues. Here are some of the top foods you should integrate into your diet:

1. Fiber

The consumption of fiber - particularly non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) - are integral to a healthy digestive system. Some examples of fiber rich foods include fortified foods like fiber bread, wheat bran, broccoli, artichokes, berries, lentils, chickpeas, chia seeds, dark chocolate, and avocados, amongst others.

Soluble fiber absorbs water to bulk out stools, ensuring that everything is moving through your digestive tract properly. Non-digestible insoluble fiber (prebiotics) can’t be digested so ends up in the gut, where it provides the fuel for the good bacteria in the gut to thrive on.

A systematic review of 188 studies concluded that dietary fiber was the most important component of a healthy gut; consuming fiber regularly was associated with a more diverse bacterial ecosystem.

2. Healthy fats

Some research has shown that a high fat diet has an adverse effect on your gut microbiota, but it’s a macronutrient essential to healthy digestion, by aiding nutrient absorption. Consuming some healthy fats with your soluble fiber rich foods will help them be digested and the nutrients absorbed. Some examples of healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, ghee and fatty fish like salmon.

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are the primary source of nutrition for the cells of the colon and are produced when the good bacteria ferment fiber in your colon. Butyrate, a SCFA, can also be found in grass-fed dairy products.

Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential to good digestive health, because they fight inflammation in the body. Inflammation that may be the underlying cause of poor digestion. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports found an association between circulating levels of omega 3 and microbiome composition. Foods like chia seeds, salmon and sardines are all rich in omega 3s.

3. Probiotics

For good digestion and gut health, it’s recommended to take a probiotic supplement and consume probiotic rich foods. Probiotics are live bacteria that pass through your digestive system (unless they are killed by digestive enzymes), and add to the population of healthy bacteria in your gut. A meta-analysis of nearly 2,000 individuals found that probiotic consumption was associated with decreased gastrointestinal problems and a reduction in symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotic rich foods include high quality dairy, particularly yogurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and sourdough bread.

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