While everyone’s bodies differ, we all have one thing in common when it comes to our digestive systems—problems can usually be avoided by cutting out certain foods.
For those experiencing bloating, gas, or uncomfortable bowel movements, it’s easy to figure out the obvious suspects: greasy and fried foods, heavily processed products, and rich, high-fat treats.
But what about foods that actually aid in digestion?
In honor of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Month, here are five foods that will help improve your digestive health:
No doubt you’ve heard of probiotics—and yogurt is full of them. Powerful bacteria, probiotics help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel, including diarrhoea and constipation.
If eating bacteria to soothe your stomach sounds counter-intuitive, remember that your digestive tract is already full of “friendly” bacteria that help you process food. However, if dairy is a no-go, then source out other foods that are rich in probiotics, such as tempeh, sauerkraut or miso.
Mint has long been known to calm an upset stomach. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the fragrant herb can calm bowel muscles, allowing gas to pass easily and reducing abdominal pain. In fact, researchers at the University of Adelaide discovered that mint actually contains a compound that activates an anti-pain channel in the colon, making it a treatment of choice for IBS sufferers. That’s not all—according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, mint also improves the flow of bile, which is helpful in the digestion of fat.
To experience the optimum benefits of mint, bypass candies in favour of sugar-free options. You can buy coated peppermint-oil capsules, drop fresh mint leaves into a juice or smoothie, or try brewing a cup of peppermint tea.
When adnominal cramps have got you down, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 are nutrients that will help you combat the pain—and bananas contain all three. Bananas are also rich in insoluble fibre and pectin, which helps firm bowel movements, allowing food to move smoothly through your digestive tract and preventing constipation.
Ginger ale has long been the treat of choice for sick days—and with good reason. Used for everything from morning sickness to motion sickness, ginger is like the ultimate backrub for your upset belly. Considered a carminative, it also helps prevent the build-up of gas in the GI tract.
However, if you truly want to reduce nausea and vomiting with this wonder root, it’s best to stay away from the carbonated sodas. Instead, chewing a piece of raw or candied ginger, drinking a ginger tea, or choosing a cold pressed juice that contains ginger (such as our Fresh Start juice aids in digestion and saliva production.
High in enzymes and rich in fibre, carrots are a powerful digestive aid. Eaten whole, they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which helps move food through your system. However, juiced carrots also provide calcium and potassium, which aid in muscle contractions, including those that happen in the stomach and bowel.