By Tamsin Brown • 09 April 2022 • 8:32
7 superfoods that help digestion. Image: Koppchen, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
All foods nourish us in some way, but superfoods have more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids than other foods. Here are some that can help digestion.
Superfoods can be incorporated into any diet and have a whole host of benefits for our bodies.
Avocados are rich in both soluble fibre, which supports gut flora, and insoluble fibre, which helps to prevent and relieve constipation. Fibre also helps to control appetite and makes us feel full for longer. Avocado is also a low-fructose food, so it is less likely to cause gas. Although avocadoes are high in fats, these are mostly monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthy.
2. Probiotic yoghurt
Yoghurt is a type of fermented milk obtained using two types of bacteria, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which transform some of the lactose in the milk into lactic acid and cause the proteins to coagulate. Our digestive system is colonised by many different types of bacteria that together form the highly complex intestinal microbiome. These bacteria live in a delicate balance that can be affected by diet, stress, disease, or certain medications. Eating foods with probiotics, such as yoghurt, maintains this balance.
Cereals such as oats are a very good source of complex carbohydrates, which give us energy. They are slow-absorbing, so they help keep glucose levels stable and stop us from feeling sleepy after eating, which may happen when the brain and muscles do not have enough sugars to perform their functions (hypoglycemia). Oats can be good for constipation because they have a lot of fibre. They contain mucilage, which softens the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestine, making them suitable for people with sensitive stomachs.
Pineapple is an effective natural aid for digestion due to a chemical substance found in its composition called bromelain, which behaves very similarly to our own digestive enzymes. Bromelain helps the pancreas and stomach do their jobs, thereby speeding up digestion and the absorption of nutrients. One of its most important characteristics is that it acts specifically on the metabolism of proteins. While protein is an essential macronutrient, foods such as meat can take between six and nine hours to digest, whereas pineapple only takes between 20 and 30 minutes to digest.
5. Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil acts as a mild natural laxative that can help mild constipation. It is rich in vitamins E and K, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron and antioxidants, which are excellent for improving digestion and the absorption of nutrients. It boosts muscle contractions in the intestines, which promotes the flow of bile, thereby helping to maintain regular bowel movements and prevent constipation.
Garlic is a source of prebiotics, which are non-digestible substances in food that promote the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They are neither broken down nor absorbed during their transit through the upper digestive tract (stomach and small intestine) and they undergo selective bacterial fermentation once they reach the colon, which means that they promote the activity of only certain “good” intestinal bacteria. Garlic can also help to improve the secretion of stomach juices.
7. Tiger nuts
Tiger nuts, which are actually tubers, not nuts, improve digestion in different ways. Thanks to their high content of insoluble fibre, they add volume to the stools and prevent constipation. They contain resistant starch, a type of fibre that feeds the intestinal flora, and may also contain enzymes such as amylases, lipases or catalases, which break down food in the intestine, relieving gas and preventing diarrhoea.
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Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news.
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