Listen to Your Gut: Key Foods to Maintain Digestive Health
The digestive tract and it’s function is one of the most important components that determines overall health and disease. It is the site for absorption and assimilation of nutrients, elimination of toxins, is responsible for two thirds of our immune system, and has the power to influence our emotions and stress levels by producing and releasing important neurotransmitters.
It even has it’s own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, which is now being referred to as our ‘second brain’ – so taking care of this physiological powerhouse should be at the top of our list of priorities when it comes to healthy eating. There are endless amounts of digestive support nutrients that we can take, but luckily some of the best ones for us can be found in foods!
Chlorophyll is the molecule in plants that help them convert energy from the sun, and it is molecularly similar to the haemoglobin in our blood (the only difference is that chlorophyll has magnesium at it’s core, while hemoglobin has iron), which contributes to it’s role in promoting oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. The benefits of consuming chlorophyll-rich foods are endless: they slow cellular damage, aid wound healing, build the blood, fight infection, improve liver function, and fight inflammation.
Chlorophyll is also extremely alkalizing which promotes a healthy gut flora, aiding digestion & elimination. While we’re on the chlorella kick I also need to mention that it contains the full spectrum of amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids for protein synthesis, AND….. it contains more B12 than liver. LIVER! Recent studies have linked IBS vitamin B 12 deficiency, making chlorophyll a must have for individuals with digestive disorders.
Foods that are rich in Chlorophyll include: Kale, Seaweeds, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Spinach, Asparagus, and Kale
We’ve all heard about the great benefits of taking probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive system, but there’s another class of bacteria that are equally as important – prebiotics. Prebiotics are the nutrients that probiotics feed on, and are necessary for the maintenance of healthy gut flora. The key prebiotics are called Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), Inulin, and Short Chain Fatty Acids. Short chain fatty acids are amazing because along with nourishing the digestive tract, they also promote satiety, or the feeling of fullness, which we could all use a little more of when trying to stick to a healthy eating regime.
Foods that are rich in prebiotics include: onions, garlic, leeks, lentils, artichokes, sweet potato, brown rice, and asparagus.
Chia seems to be the new it girl on the nutrition scene, and for good reason. Chia, like flax seeds, are high in fiber and essential fatty acids. But Chia is also incredibly rich in antioxidants, making it safer to store for long periods of time without becoming rancid, and unlike flax, it doesn’t need to be ground to make it’s nutrients available.
It is loaded with B vitamins and blood sugar regulating nutrients such as magnesium, molybdenum, and calcium, but the best is yet to come – When chia comes into contact with water it becomes a gel, which coats the digestive system with a mucilaginous substance that binds to waste, toxins, & cholesterol. It soothes inflammation and acts as a bulking, lubricant laxative, making it a must have for digestive dependability…..
Rhian is a Naturopath and Nutritionist with expensive experience in both clinical and corporate settings. She utilizes a personalized approach to her practice in order to assess and treat a wide variety of both acute and chronic conditions. Amongst others, Rhian as special clinical interest in hormone imbalance, women’s health, digestive disorders, Pre & post natal health and dermatology.
• Qualified Naturopath & Nutritionist
• Specialist qualifications in:
o Cosmetic Acupuncture
o Athletic Performance
o Pregnancy & Pediatric Nutrition
o Hormone Health