Plant based ways to improve your digestion
While I was home for the holidays, I did a ton of cooking for my family. My cooking style has drastically changed since the last time I was home, as I switched to a primarily plant-based diet at the end of August 2015. The good news: my family loved my recipes and couldn’t believe several of them were meat and dairy-free. The only complaint I received was they frequently felt uncomfortably bloated after their meals. This is a result of the high fiber content of the many vegetables, grains, and legumes they were now consuming. While I love to encourage people to switch to a plant-based diet because it will make them feel great, I don’t want people being deterred by the early on bloating the diet can cause. Of course, after some time, your digestive system will adapt to this style of eating and process the food with more ease, but in the mean time, here are some plant based ways to improve your digestion.
1.) Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that live in your gut to aid your digestive and immune systems. While they naturally occur in your body, supplementation can give them a boost, helping to move food through your body easier. When switching to a plant based diet, you may be shocking your system with a drastic increase in fiber, disrupting the natural flora in your gut. With the sudden addition of these fibrous foods, the bacteria are unable to break down the foods and your system backs up, so it’s helpful to add more bacteria to your system through probiotics. (It’s best to take these with a full glass of water, preferably in the morning on an empty stomach).
2.)Prebiotics: Prebiotics are the food for the healthy bacteria that live in your gut, helping the bacteria to multiply within the digestive tract. You can add more of these to your system by eating foods that naturally contain varieties of prebiotics, such as: asparagus, garlic, jicama, onions, carrots, leeks, radishes, tomatoes, and turmeric.
3.)Water: It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day to keep your entire system running properly. Although, some evidence suggests that drinking excessive water during and immediately following meals can dilute the digestive juices in your body and put more strain on the digestive process. I recommend drinking plenty of water before meals (this will also help you feel full faster) then limiting water consumption for the next hour or so, but find what works best for you!
4.)Eliminate Inflammatory Foods: If you’re just switching to a plant based diet, prior, you may have been consuming inflammatory substances such as dairy, processed foods, and excessive sugar. By cutting out or reducing these foods, you can decrease inflammation in your digestive track, allowing the mucus membrane that lines the tract to heal and work more effectively. Additionally, transition into this style of eating slowly- do your best to combine easily digested foods (such as white rice, potatoes, and fruit) with foods that can sometimes be harder to digest (such as broccoli, beans and lentils).
5.)Glutamine: L-Glutamine is an amino acid naturally found in the body, known to help with cell volumnization and muscle recovery surrounding your workout, and also benefiting digestive health. L-Glutamine is great for muscle recovery because it decreases inflammation, as it also does in the digestive track. Glutamine supplements are derived from fermented vegetables-which are also helpful for digestion as fermentation makes foods probiotic.
6.)Apple cider vinegar: ACV can help increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, allowing for better digestion and nutrient absorption from food. Try drinking 1T, diluted in water, before 2-3 meals each day.
7.)Digest All: Digest All is a supplement created by MRM to promote optimal digestion by providing a full spectrum of plant based enzymes. Over the years, our body’s ability to produce digestive enzymes is exhausted, thus supplementation is key to maintain proper nutrient absorption and prevent uncomfortable gas and bloating.