By Nadya Andreeva (Mind Body Green)
I believe the digestive system is the core of life energy, intuition and longevity. Unfortunately, we’re turning into a bloated and constipated nation. We spend millions on laxatives, antacids, fiber, and enzymes when often a healthy diet is enough to regulate things. To maintain optimal digestive health and avoid many modern diseases, I recommend adding these seven happy belly foods to your diet.
Lacto-fermented or cultured veggies, such as pickles, kimchee and sauerkraut, are potent detoxifiers. Although their name may sound intimidating, these crisp, tangy veggies are not difficult to make or eat. These veggies have very high levels of probiotics (significantly more than probiotic supplements at a fraction of the cost!), and also break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. Making lacto-fermented veggies takes nothing more than salt, vegetables and filtered water (and a starter culture should you choose) — no canning or fancy equipment required!
Chia seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala, and are an incredibly rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. These tasteless, tiny seeds are either dark brown, white or black, and are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide 10 grams of fiber, which reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol and regulates bowel function. That’s 33% of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day in just two tablespoons!
Feeling adventurous? Since the outer layer of chia seeds swell when mixed with liquids to form a gel, you can use them as an egg replacement. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, has a sweet and nutty taste, and is an excellent substitute for butter or oil. Unlike its counterparts, it contains antimicrobial properties and fatty acids that can improve digestion, immunity, boost energy and metabolism. Try using organic, unrefined, expeller-pressed coconut oil when cooking eggs, stir fries, roasting veggies and baking.
Zucchini is a powerful little vegetable that is both filling and hydrating. It encourages healthy digestion and detoxifies the body. Due to its high fiber content, zucchini has cleansing effect on our digestive tract, especially the intestines. It acts as a mild laxative, cleaning the walls of the intestines and preventing carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon. Zucchini can be dark green or yellow, and is typically roasted, grilled or added to baked dishes. Most of the nutrients are in the skin, so leave it on when preparing meals. For maximum benefits, eat raw zucchini.
And if you choose to eat dairy or healthy organic animal products then the following can be beneficial for your digestion:
Ghee is actually clarified butter with many of the milk fats, sugar and lactose removed. Unlike butter, ghee won’t turn rancid at room temperature and retains its original flavor and freshness for up to a year – amazing!
While other fats and oils can slow down the body’s digestive process and give us that “heavy” feeling in our stomach, ghee stimulates the digestive system by encouraging the secretion of stomach acids to break down food. Organic ghee can be found at your local health food store, but it’s also very easy to make using cultured, organic, unsalted butter.
Wild Alaskan salmon is a delicious and healthy anti-inflammatory food, unlike Atlantic salmon and other farm-raised varieties, wild Alaskan salmon aren’t fed genetically modified food.
Bone broth is a simple, easy, cost-effective way to improve digestion, reduce inflammation and protect against infection. The gelatin found in bone broth attracts and holds liquids that help heal and seal the gut, supporting proper digestion. Bone broth also contains easy-to-absorb minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur chondroitin and glucosamine. Try making a stew and saving the broth. Using a slow cooker, fill the bottom with veggies (carrots, celery, onion, etc.), add bones from organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals, a clove of garlic, dash of salt, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and cover all ingredients with water. Simmer over low heat for an entire day. Strain and serve.