By Nutritionist, Samantha Gemmell
Raw food is so yesterday, fermented food is where it's at! Fermented food is your tummy's new best friend. By naturally fermenting foods, you get to consume tasty tangy food that builds colonies of good bacteria in your digestive tract.
In fact, fermented food can even be more therapeutic than many probiotics. That's because fermented foods have many different strains of good bacteria, instead of just a couple. Different strains offer different health benefits – some work well for bloating, whereas others might be great for boosting immunity.
Yoghurt is an obvious choice, but branching out can be good. If you love spicy food, enjoy some kimchi. If not, try out some sauerkraut with your meat. Pickle your favourite vegetables – there's a recipe for almost every vegetable out there!
There's drink options too. Some people like the tart vinegary flavour of kombucha, whereas others like the soft-drink like sensation of water kefir. Try some store-bought options to figure out your favourite before you commit to making your own.
Repeat after me: slow DOWN. Eating on the run is one of the worst things for digestion. In order to digest optimally, you need to eat slowly, calmly, and chew thoroughly.
Firstly, try to always sit down to eat. This means that your nervous system is more likely to switch across to 'digest' mode instead of 'stress' mode. Take your time whenever you can to chew your food and relax into the meal.
Finally, focus on the textures and flavours – the more you enjoy your meal, the more digestive enzymes you produce. This makes it easier to break down your food and absorb it. It also keeps your digestive system moving at the optimal rate – not too quickly, not too slow.
With the alkaline craze, everyone thinks that acid is bad. But it's not – in fact, you need acidity in places, particularly your digestive tract. Acidity helps you to break down food, and protects you from nasty pathogens that can cause disease.
People with low stomach acid tend to struggle to digest high protein foods. They might feel like a meal such as a steak sits in their stomach for hours, waiting to be broken down.
So if you want to make the most of your food, add in some acidity to your meal. This might mean marinating your meats before you cook them, or adding a zesty lemon dressing to your salad. If you suspect you have low stomach acid, consider adding in acidity to every dish – a shot of kombucha can give you good bacteria and added acidity in one mouthful.
Feeding the good guys is just as important as putting them there in the first place. You wouldn't plant a tree and then never water it – good bacteria is exactly the same.
That's why it's essential that we get enough prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods with a particular type of fibre in it. This fibre isn't digested by our bodies, but instead is fermented and produces fuel for good bacteria to feed off.
One of the tastiest prebiotic foods out there is cacao. Packed full of fibre that feeds your bacteria, it helps you to build happy healthy colonies of good bacteria. It's also super easy to add into your daily diet – even a teaspoon in your morning smoothie or coffee, or sprinkled over a cheeky ice-cream dessert.
You can also add in other prebiotic foods, such as garlic, onions, legumes, beetroots and nuts. But we still think cacao is the yummiest option.
By combining these easy tips into your day, you can keep your tummy happy and healthy.
Do you have any tips for helping digestion?
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