NEW CASTLE —
Do you have bloating, abdominal discomfort, uncomfortable fullness, heartburn, or nausea? You may be suffering from chronic indigestion or constipation. These health issues can be caused by overeating, eating too quickly, and consuming certain foods and beverages that trigger these conditions.
Emotional factors, such as anxiety or stress, and digestive illnesses, such as pancreatitis, may also contribute to digestive discomfort. A healthy diet, limited in foods that worsen your symptoms, or the addition of foods that strengthen your digestion system, can help prevent or alleviate these health concerns. For best results, you may need to seek specified guidance from your doctor or dietitian before altering your diet.
It is important to grasp how much the quality of your assimilation — how you uptake foods you eat into your digestive system — and elimination, which is how well the body moves the toxins from your system, plays a big role in determining the quality of your health.
Michelle Byers, Jameson’s clinical nutrition manager, advises that in the bigger picture of digestive health, avoiding constipation is key because toxins build up in your system. Eliminating toxins is essential in maintaining healthy digestion and overall health. As a society, we tend to be weak in eating fruits and veggies. Byers’ recommendation is to focus on these fresh foods.
Good bacteria called probiotics are stimulated in the digestive track by including fresh fruits and vegetables. Yogurt also adds good bacteria. Meat and potatoes do not.
A supplement containing acidophilus and bifidobactia is also available in health food stores and is especially helpful for gas, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
So what can you do to make sure that you are improving your digestion? It turns out that we must pay attention to both ends of the digestive spectrum — namely your mouth and colon.
Do you tend to “inhale” your food? Begin by starting to take smaller bites and thoroughly chew food. You may even want to repeat silently to yourself while you are chewing, “chew, chew, chew.” It is important to get digestive enzymes from your saliva to saturate what you are eating.
Also, mindful eating is an awareness training process that helps create slower eating patterns. You can put your fork down in between bites or even try using chopsticks, which really breaks the habit of wolfing down your meals.
Dietary fiber is also a must to avoid constipation. Remember the importance of water-soluble beans. Also include dried fruit such as prunes, figs and dates, and the proverbial daily apple. Ground flax seed meal is also great because it can keep you “regular” and provides good Omegas.
It is important to note that 25 to 50 percent of digestive ailments can be modified, or even prevented by proper eating. If you are not currently including the following in your diet, slowly introducing the items from this list can make a difference in the quality of how you digest your foods and stimulate regular elimination.
Bring the following foods into your daily/weekly menu: yogurt, brown rice, tofu, dandelion greens, sunflower seeds, sea vegetables, flax seed or flax seed oil, papaya, bananas, garlic, tumeric (antiseptic), basil (anti-infection) and sage (anti-inflammatory). Also, it is important to avoid coffee, tea, sodas, and other caffeinated or carbonated drinks. Alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, peppermint, pickled foods, tomatoes, tomato-related products, and all fried or fatty foods can be linked to indigestion. Additionally, citrus fruits and juices are known to cause indigestion due to their acidity.
CARIBBEAN BEAN SALAD
Makes 4 (1 cup) servings
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup red onion
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 orange, peeled and diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (basil can be substituted)
- Black pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to one hour.
(Lori Brothers is the Director of The Dean Ornish Program For Reversing Heart Disease at Jameson Hospital, www.jamesonhealth.org)