7 pow­er­ful foods to ease di­ges­tion, con­sti­pa­tion, and bloat­ing

Better Nutrition - - N- VEMBER2017CONTENTS - BY LISA TURNER

Heal Your Gut ’ Tis the sea­son for overindul­gence, but th­ese 7 foods can help ease di­ges­tion and re­lieve un­com­fort­able symp­toms.

Di­ges­tive is­sues aff ect an es­ti­mated 60– 70 mil­lion peo­ple. Here's how you can pre­vent them, with seven pow­er­ful foods to ease di­ges­tion and heal your gut.

Pa­paya con­tains an en­zyme called pa­pain that treats and im­proves all types of di­ges­tive and ab­dom­i­nal dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing in­di­ges­tion, hy­per­acid­ity ( heart­burn), and con­sti­pa­tion, and is es­pe­cially use­ful in protein di­ges­tion. In one study, peo­ple who took a pa­pain- rich pa­paya prepa­ra­tion re­ported sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in con­sti­pa­tion and bloat­ing. Try this: Purée 1 cup of frozen pa­paya cubes with the juice of one lime and honey to taste for a fast, creamy smoothie; make a salad of pa­paya slices with av­o­cado slices, thinly sliced red onion, and baby arugula leaves, and driz­zle with olive oil; com­bine pa­paya cubes with minced jalapeños, green onions, cilantro, and lime juice for a trop­i­cal salsa.

Fen­nel has been used for hun­dreds of years in tra­di­tional medicine to im­prove di­ges­tion and treat a wide range of gut ail­ments. It's rich in volatile oils that re­lieve gas, im­prove in­testi­nal func­tion, aid di­ges­tion, and may ease some forms of chronic col­i­tis. Try this: Grind fen­nel seeds in a spice mill or cof­fee grinder, then add to oat­meal, burg­ers, or soups for fla­vor and di­ges­tive po­ten­tial; toss raw fen­nel slices with baby arugula, grape­fruit seg­ments, minced basil, pine nuts, and olive oil; quar­ter fen­nel bulbs, toss with olive oil, and roast un­til ten­der.

Pineap­ple, like pa­paya, con­tains a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring di­ges­tive en­zyme, brome­lain, that's es­pe­cially pow­er­ful in protein di­ges­tion. Stud­ies show that brome­lain helps treat in­di­ges­tion and in­testi­nal dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing pan­cre­atic in­suf­fi­ciency. In one study, brome­lain helped coun­ter­act the ef­fects of in­testi­nal pathogens that cause di­ar­rhea, such as E. coli, and it may also re­duce in­testi­nal tract in­flam­ma­tion. Try this: Peel, core, and slice pineap­ples, toss with chili pow­der, then grill un­til lightly browned; make a trop­i­cal slaw with diced pineap­ple, shred­ded red cab­bage, green onions, and a honey- lime- olive oil dress­ing; purée pineap­ple cubes with hibis­cus tea, then mix with sparkling wa­ter for a fresh, fruity mock­tail.

Sun­chokes, the root of a type of sun­flower, are rich in in­ulin, a type of fiber that acts as a pre­bi­otic. Be­cause pre­bi­otics aren't di­gested in the up­per in­testines, they serve as sources of en­ergy for ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria, im­prov­ing the com­po­si­tion and in­creas­ing the ac­tiv­ity of pro­bi­otics in the lower in­testines, and pro­tect­ing against flat­u­lence and bloat­ing. Be sure to cook them well; eaten raw or lightly cooked, they can have the op­po­site ef­fect and may cause gas and bloat­ing. Try this: Thinly slice sun­chokes, sauté in co­conut oil till lightly browned, then add bal­samic vine­gar and chopped thyme; cook chopped sun­chokes, sweet pota­toes, and onions in stock un­til soft, then purée with co­conut oil for a creamy soup; roast chopped sun­chokes with cubed beets, car­rots, parsnips, and rose­mary.

Onions, like sun­chokes, also con­tain in­ulin, a pre­bi­otic that en­cour­ages the growth of healthy gut bac­te­ria and pro­tects the gut from pathogens. Some stud­ies sug­gest that in­ulin from onions and other sources may also pro­tect against colon can­cer. Try this: Pack thinly sliced red onions into a pint jar and cover with a mix­ture of boil­ing wa­ter, ap­ple cider vine­gar, and honey, then re­frig­er­ate overnight for quick pick­led onions; com­bine chopped yel­low onions, red and yel­low bell pep­pers, olive oil, vine­gar, and basil for a fast, fresh rel­ish; dip onion rings in beaten eggs and gluten- free bread crumbs, spray with olive oil, then bake un­til golden and ten­der.

Ginger has a long his­tory of use in pre­vent­ing nau­sea and vom­it­ing, and many mod­ern stud­ies sup­port th­ese ben­e­fits. Re­views of stud­ies us­ing ginger for mo­tion sick­ness and/ or nau­sea as­so­ci­ated with preg­nancy or chemo­ther­apy show that ginger is sig­nif­i­cantly more ef­fec­tive than a placebo in pre­vent­ing nau­sea and vom­it­ing. Ginger also pre­vents bloat­ing by break­ing down and ex­pelling in­testi­nal gas. Try this: Slice whole ginger root, com­bine with wa­ter, and sim­mer for 20 min­utes, then strain and sweeten with honey to make a pun­gent tea; sim­mer grated ginger root with car­rots, onions, and veg­etable stock, then purée with co­conut milk for a creamy soup; juice kale, ap­ples, and ginger for a de­li­cious di­ges­tive tonic.

Sauer­kraut, made from fer­mented cab­bage, is rich in pro­bi­otics to im­prove di­ges­tive health and re­lieve di­ges­tive symp­toms, in­clud­ing di­ar­rhea, bloat­ing, and flat­u­lence; pre­vent the over­growth of yeast and bac­te­ria; and pro­mote reg­u­lar elim­i­na­tion. Some stud­ies show that pro­bi­otics are es­pe­cially help­ful in treat­ing ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome ( IBS), and may re­duce the risk of colon can­cer. Al­ways eat it raw; heat­ing will kill the bac­te­ria and de­stroy the ben­e­fits. Try this: Toss pre­pared sauer­kraut with baby spinach, grated car­rots, and chopped green onions for an easy, heal­ing salad; use it as a top­ping for burg­ers, hot dogs, sand­wiches, or scram­bled eggs; make a hearty white bean soup, then top with sauer­kraut af­ter re­mov­ing from heat.

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