DIGESTIVE FOODS FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON

The weeks ahead hallmark a heavy mix of food, drinks, office parties, braais and Christmas festivities. It’s a wonderful time of celebration and enjoyment but often spells disaster for our digestive systems. The aftermath is sometimes gassiness, bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation or heartburn. Lucky for you, we have a few tips up our sleeve so that you can ‘have your cake, and eat it too’ this festive season.

INGREDIENT WHY SHOULD YOU INCLUDE IT?
PROBIOTICS
A multi-strain supplement, fermented foods, kefir or coconut kefir.
There are naturally occurring bacteria in your digestive tract, some of which are harmful but mostly which are beneficial (bifidobacterium and lactobacillus). They maintain a healthy environment in your gut. Consuming probiotics and probiotic-rich foods helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria, maintaining a healthy bacterial balance. FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes with Probiotic Sachets contains individually packed sachets of HOWARU® Premium Probiotics.
PREBIOTIC-RICH FOODS

Onions, garlic, asparagus, artichokes and bananas.

Prebiotics support the growth of good bacteria as they ultimately serve as food for bacteria to ferment or “feed” on. Include prebiotic-rich foods to support the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut. Most FUTURELIFE® products contain inulin, a prebiotic that assists with the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
FIBRE

Wholegrains, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, soaked grains, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds and psylium husk powder.

The health benefits of fibre are very well established, particularly within digestive health. Fibre assists with maintaining regular bowel movements and cleaning out the gut. It is important to increase fibre gradually and to do so according to tolerance whilst increasing water intake too. FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes with Probiotic Sachets is high in dietary fibre. It contains 11.7g of dietary fibre per 45g serving.
TURMERIC Curcumin, the active component in turmeric, has been used for centuries in Asia for many inflammatory disorders, infections and digestive diseases. Turmeric has phenomenal medicinal properties due its high content of anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Studies have found turmeric to improve inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), play a role in colon cancer prevention and to improve liver function.
BONE BROTH Homemade bone broth has been known for centuries as a healing folk for the digestive tract. Meat and fish stocks provide building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the digestive tract. They also have a soothing effect on any areas of inflammation in the gut. It’s the gelatinous soft tissue around bones and in the bone marrow which provide the healing properties. Chicken stock is particularly gentle on the stomach. Commercial stock cubes and powder are not the same as they are full of preservatives, sodium and highly processed. You can use bone broth as a stock to make vegetable soups for a small starter before your main meal. This will feed your gut cells and stimulate stomach acid production to prepare your digestive system for your main meal.
PINEAPPLE AND PAPAYA Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain which helps to digest protein into its building blocks, amino acids. Bromelain is also known to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to help with cancer prevention, enhance excretion of fat, muscle relaxation and inhibiting blood clotting. Papayas also contain a digestive enzyme called papain which acts in a very similar way to bromelain.
GROUND SEEDS Seeds in general are an excellent source of nutrients particularly fibre. However, they can be quite difficult to digest, particularly flax seeds. Therefore, grounding seeds and even making seed butters makes digestion a whole lot easier and therefore increases accessibility to all the nutrients, especially the heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
SOAKED & SPROUTED GRAINS, NUTS AND SEEDS Soaking and sprouting grains may increase phytase activity which is an enzyme involved in breaking down phytic acid. Phytic acid is often referred to as an anti-nutrient because it prevents absorption of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc and all the B vitamins. Sprouting grains also have several health benefits specifically improving ease of digestion and an increase in availability and absorption of nutrients (folate, amino acids, iron and several vitamins).
HERBAL TEA
Camomile, ginger and peppermint tea.
Camomile tea soothes and relaxes the bowel wall and reduces possibility of constipation. Peppermint oil and peppermint tea helps to alleviate bloating and excessive gas by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract and also promoting normal peristalsis (the movement of the digestive muscles which help to digest and move food along the GI tract). Studies have found that daily use of peppermint oil is effective in relieving IBS symptoms. If you suffer from GERD (heartburn) then you should avoid peppermint oil as the relaxing action will worsen the reflux. Ginger and ginger tea has been found to improve digestion and reduce digestive problems such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and gas. To make ginger tea, grate ginger root (about 1tsp) into a teapot, add boiling water, cover and leave for 3-5 minutes. Pour through a small sieve.
LOW-FRUCTOSE FRUITS
Berries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, stone fruit (nectarines, peaches), passion fruit and granny smith apples.
Fruit low in sugar may be easier on the digestive tract because excessive amounts of fructose has been found to be harmful and may cause diarrhoea. Make yourself a fruity smoothie using low fructose fruits and a FUTURELIFE® powdered product.,
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR Apple cider vinegar is known to help increase the amount of stomach acid which is often the cause of indigestion and heartburn. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of clean water in the morning or before meals may help to improve digestion.

Enjoy this festive season while incorporating these digestive ingredients into your meals and snacks. Make a soup made with bone broth as a starter before a meal which will prepare your digestive system for food. Take a probiotic supplement daily, and even better, incorporate probiotic-rich fermented foods such as home-made sauerkraut into your meals. Try include a delicious smoothie for breakfast using digestive foods such as papaya or pineapple, ground nuts and seeds. Visit the FUTURELIFE® website to find loads of recipes including these fruits such as this Tropical Pina Colada smoothie http://futurelife.co.za/tropical-pina-colada-smoothie/ .

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10418962
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10407566
  3. http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/336720
  4. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/health-benefits-of-sprouted-grains
  5. https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
  6. http://ajpgi.physiology.org/content/253/6/G781.short
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  8. LK Mahan, S Escott-Stump. Krauses’s Food and nutrition therapy. 12th edition. Saunders, 2008.
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