Foods for digestive health

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By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Occasional gas, bloating and irregular bowel movements are signs that the food you are eating is not friendly to your digestive system. However, paying attention and making a few changes in your diet can ease these digestive problems.

Sesame seeds
According to Bridget Kezaabu, a freelance nutritionist, sesame seeds contain a high amount of protein, which is broken down and reassembled from its component parts into usable proteins for the human body. This adds to overall strength, healthy cellular growth, mobility, energy levels, and a boosted metabolic function.
“Sesame seeds are rich in fibre, an important element in healthy digestion. It bulks up bowel movements and stimulates peristaltic motion as food moves through the intestine smoothly. This reduces the risk of constipation and diarrhoea and protects your colon. It also reduces the chances of gastrointestinal diseases and cancer,” she says.

Vegetables
Jamiiru Mpiima, a nutritionist at Victoria University Wellness Centre, says carrots are not only good for your eyes but also stimulate the gum to produce more saliva, which kills bacteria and foreign bodies in the mouth thereby reducing oral health problems.
“Carrots also contain dietary fibre which is important in maintaining good digestive health. Carrot juice reduces the severity of constipation and protects the colon and stomach from cancer,” he says.

The juice of fresh raw cabbage has been proven to heal stomach ulcers and is rich in iron, iodine, calcium, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus. Broccoli contains a fibre which supports and checks the speed that food travels through intestines, the consistency and bacterial populations in our intestine thereby aiding digestion.
Kezaabu says, “Broccoli contains omega-3 fats and phytonutrients which have the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances and the risk of chronic inflammation of the digestive tract,” she says.

Fruits
Pineapples contain dietary fibre which is essential for keeping intestines healthy and preventing conditions such a constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome.
“Bananas stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. They also produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients. High fibre in bananas can help normalise bowel movement for people who usually get constipated. They also soothe the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhoea,” Kezaabu says.

The astringent properties in guavas help treat digestive disorders such as diarrhoea and dysentery. “Guava seeds are equally important because they help with gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation. This is because there is a lot of dietary fibre in these seeds. The fibre adds bulk to stool and will pass through system without any problem.”

Grains
Whole grains such as millet are very rich in fibre which helps in healing gastrointestinal disorders.
“Regularly making millet a part of your diet will help maintain a healthy gut and prevent peptic ulcers and colon cancer. It can eliminate problems like constipation, excess gas, bloating, and cramping,” Mpiima says.

Fluids
Jamiiru Mpiima, a nutritionist at Victoria University Wellness Centre, says sometimes when you develop a digestion problem, you are probably not drinking enough fluids. Drinking water before or after a meal aids digestion. Water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients easily.

Drinking warm water in the morning on an empty stomach improves bowel movement and softens stool, which prevents constipation. Lemon juice acts as a stimulant to the digestive system and can help flush toxins from your body. A cup of warm water with lemon juice or honey acts as a natural laxative that stimulates the colon. Ginger is known for digestive problems, preventing nausea as well as increasing blood circulation. It can be eaten raw or added to food.

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