Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which digests proteins. Used in Central and South America for centuries as a natural remedy for indigestion and inflammation, further research into bromelain’s direct effect on digestive problems is nonetheless needed, according to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative
Health. Feel free to snack on the fruit in the meantime, though.
Ginger is well- known for its anti- nausea (anti-emetic) properties,but it also stimulates the digestive tract and, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Scientific Reports, lessens bloating-caused abdominal distention. Grate some fresh ginger into a tea cup and pour hot water over the top when you next need some relief.
Your grandmother had it right: if you want to “go”, have some prunes. Containing not only fibre, but also sorbitol, prunes’ insoluble fibre adds bulk and aids bowel movement, while the sorbitol acts as laxative. Add some to your Weetabix or drink a little prune juice in the morning.
On the basis of the logic that good hydration means regular bowl movements, cucumbers – a vegetable with some 95% water content – are an ideal addition to the diet. However, again, it is about finding what suits you in particular: some people suffer from burping after eating cucumber. As with all suggested options, listen to your body to find the foods right for you.
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which is not only anti- inflammatory, but also high in antioxidants and a boon for the immune system.
Although curcumin’s bioavailability is low, adding fresh turmeric to your diet is beneficial to digestion – and the body overall – in the long run.
Rich in the fibre beta-glucan, oats are a popular breakfast choice for a reason. Generally appropriate for IBS sufferers, some coeliac sufferers can be intolerant of the avenin in oats (similar to gluten), so again: listen to your body and be watchful for any adverse reactions.
Rich in the electrolyte potassium, which promotes expulsion of excess sodium in the body, kiwi can thus assist in problems
of water retention and – you guessed it – bloating. Also a low-FODMAP food, non-human studies on the compound actinidin in kiwi fruit have suggested a potential digestive aid quality, but further human studies are needed, according to 2013 research published in the journal Advances in Food & Nutrition Research.
The sister hydrating food to cucumbers, celery is also approximately 95% water and because of this acts as a diuretic. It’s also chock full of fibre (one cup contains circa 2g) and is useful in combatting bloating.
Beyond digestive issues, however, fibre in the diet can affect our sleep quality and energy levels as well. Too little fibre can also cause elevated cholesterol or blood pressure levels, fibre having been shown to reduce triglycerides, thereby lowering risk of heart disease. If carbohydrates are eaten alone, they can metabolize too quickly and so we experience a “sugar crash” not too long afterwards. This is more often the case with refined carbohydrates, rather than wholegrain and complex options, but even brown rice and wholewheat spaghetti should be served with a quantity of macronutrients, protein and fat for a nutritionally complete meal.
They digest more slowly and stabilise blood sugar levels (and regulate those cholesterol and blood pressure levels).
Remember to stay hydrated, as well.
Adequate consumption of fibre, of course, helps combat bouts of constipation. A
little-known fact, for those struggling to eat enough fibre, is that avocado is loaded with it (just one cup contains 10g): not for nothing is avocado on toast a super breakfast (or lunchtime) option. In addition to neutralizing stomach
acid, avocado also contains magnesium, which activates digestive enzymes (pumpkin seeds and spinach are good, magnesium-rich foods, as well). However, another symptom of too little fibre in the diet is a constant hunger. If you’re feeling ravenous, reach for some fruit in lieu of snacky convenience foods loaded with sugar and salt.