"When diet is wrong supplements are of no use"
This is an old Ayurvedic Proverb and still applies today. Diet is the biggest contributor to either a healthy or a bad digestive system. All the supplements in the world are not going to help if your diet is bad so above all things fix the diet first!!!!!!
A strong digestive system is your greatest ally to health. It helps protect you from pathogens, delivers nutrients to the cells from the broken down food, and is where most of our immune system is produced (more about this in my previous blog post found here).
Foods can either enhance your digestive ability or it can destroy it so lets take a look at the good versus the bad.
I remember for years I would be doubled over in pain after eating and bloated like I was 6 months pregnant. I spent so many years like that I began to think it was normal. I had no idea what it was like to feel good after eating.
I ate out at restaurants quite frequently and it was usually pizza, mexican food (not the healthy kind), sushi, burgers, etc. Not realizing that I had almost no hydrochloric acid being produced to digest these barely recognizable foods and all the foods I was eating were processed, and devoid of living enzymes necessary for proper digestion. I also had a ton of stress and filled with infections that were destroying my gut. I had been on several rounds of antibiotics and my gut flora was so bad I suffered from candida overgrowth and all the nasty symptoms that came along with it.
After learning to properly take care of myself I realized the importance of consuming the RIGHT foods and which foods to limit or avoid completely and now I have energy after eating and never feel bloated unless i happen to accidentally get exposed to a food that my body doesn't tolerate and then I take a handful of digestive enzymes to help move them along and lots of lemon water and apple cider vinegar (see previous post on this here)
So lets talk about some of the foods you can include in your daily diet that will enhance digestion. The following food groups are major contributors to a solid digestive system.
Essential for keeping the gut healthy and waste materials moving by increasing the bulk of the stool. It you tend to be gassy and bloated you will want to avoid getting your fiber from beans and some of the harder to digest vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. Grains although a good source of fiber tend to be inflammatory to those with digestive and gut issues so until your gut is healed and rebalanced i would avoid including them as your fiber source. A diet high in fiber also helps maintain proper blood sugar levels by slowing down the metabolism of sugar in the diet.
Some of my favorite fiber sources are:
- Green apples
- Pumpkin and flax seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy Greens
- Nuts and Seeds
Omega 3 fatty acids found in Fish and other whole foods support the growth and survival of probiotic bacterial strains in your gut. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines by countering the effects of Omega 6 acids which cause the inflammation when the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is inverted.
Eat a diet high in the following fats to help with gut health and good digestion:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Egg Yolk
- Hemp Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
Probiotic rich foods
80% of your immune system is found in your digestive tract and when you healthy bacteria is overrun by unhealthy bacteria it leaves you unprotected and open to infection.
The bacteria that line your gut are called probiotics. The healthy bacteria allow your body to properly absorb nutrients and keep your immune system healthy.
These healthy bacteria help to ward off pathogens such as yeast, fungus, parasites, and unhealthy bacteria and viruses and also produce certain nutrients such as vitamin B12. Probiotic rich foods help to maintain proper levels of probiotics that colonize in the intestinal tract to keep us healthy.
By adding the following foods you can assure a good balance of healthy bacteria to keep digestion strong, gut healthy, and immune system balanced.
- Coconut kefir water
- Raw Sauerkraut
- Raw cheeses
Prebiotics are best known as a type of fiber called “oligosaccharides.” Prebiotics work with probiotics and help to maintain proper gut health. These can be found in the following foods and are a good accompaniment to all probiotic foods
- Green plantains or bananas
Alkaline raw high enzyme foods:
Here is where the bulk of your diet resides. These are your life force foods. Raw whole foods full of vital nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals naturally occurring enzymes.
- Leafy greens of all kinds
- Cruciferous veggies like asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
- Squashes, celery, cucumbers, beets, etc..
- Fruits of all colors in moderation due to sugar content. (the more unhealthy you are the less fruit you should consume until you have recovered)
- Soaked or sprouted nuts and seeds
Easily Digestible Proteins:
Proteins are your body's building blocks for just about everything and absolutely necessary for a healthy diet. You can get protein from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans and legumes but it has been my experience in private practice that when one is ill especially with gut damage, there is no substitute for healthy animal protein.
ALL animal protein should come from a reputable humane source and live off the land being grass fed and finished, free range, and organic.
I prefer to use all parts of the animal including the bone for bone broth and the organs which are an amazing source of nutrients you cannot get anywhere else.
- Pork (on occasion)
Now that you know what you should be eating lets talk about what you shouldn't be eating. I know I know, everybody hates me when I get to this point. We have become so desensitized that our palate has adjusted to the dead processed foods we eat daily and it takes time to enjoy all of these healthy healing fresh natural foods but give it some time and I promise you will get used to it just like you did the bad foods. You were not born into this world with an appreciation for pizza and burgers and ice cream. Those were learned over time just as you will with the healthy stuff.
Ok so heres the short version on the foods to avoid for a healthy digestive system.
- Processed grains and sugars
- Processed dairy (raw is ok on occasion)
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Cake, cookies, candy, ice cream and other sugary treats
- Conventional animal products
- Non organic fruits and vegetables
The best way to ensure a good diet that supports a healthy digestive system is to always go with the most natural foods with little or no processing and get a variety of foods and food groups in each day. This will ensure that you are getting a well rounded supply of vitamin, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids, and pre and probiotics.
In Great Health,
Brandy Augustine PhD
"The Gut Healer"