Good digestion is a silent process. Our digestive system works quietly away, processing what we eat and drink as we get on with life. That is, until something upsets our digestive balance… and then we certainly do know about it!
When our bodies don’t receive the fuel needed for digestion, it can lead to problems such as constipation, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. A poor digestive system is also more susceptible to longer-term problems such as IBS, IBD, ulcers and colitis.
Often, a change in diet can be the key to relieving constipation. It makes sense to speed up a sluggish bowel by giving it the fibre it needs to do its job. And the best way to help your bowel is by eating more high-fibre foods, such as fruit.
Let’s look at some of the best foods for keeping your digestive system healthy.
When waste passes through the small intestine, it’s like a paste. The large intestine (colon) is where the last of the water and nutrients are extracted, and the waste is formed into ‘bulk’, making it easier to pass.
Dietary fibre moves through the bowel largely undigested. So when it reaches the colon, it feeds the healthy bacteria that live there. These gut bacteria help absorb the last of the water and nutrients from the waste, forming the necessary bulk to keep waste matter moving along.
This is an important job, and the more well-fed your gut bacteria are, the better they can do their job and keep your bowels working well.
So when choosing foods, look for those with lots of dietary fibre.
Fibre comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble
Soluble fibre helps lower blood glucose levels and LDL cholesterol. You can find it in legumes, oatmeal, and some fruits and veggies.
Insoluble fibre offers more of a cleansing effect on your digestive system. Find it in whole grains, kidney beans, and in fruits and veggies too.
Ideally we should all consume at around 30 grams of fibre a day… but unfortunately most Australians don’t get enough from diet alone.
Packing your plate with nourishing foods rich in fibre not only helps keep things moving, it also may help reduce your risk of developing a number of diseases.
Try putting more of these on your plate:
Fruits: apples, pears, bananas, dried apricots
Vegetables: carrots, asparagus, broccoli, potato
Legumes: lentils, peas, soy (tofu)
Whole Grains: quinoa, brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread
Resistant starch is a unique type of fibre. It is the part of starchy food (approximately 10%) that resists normal digestion in the small intestine. Resistant starch functions similarly to soluble fibre, helping feed the friendly bacteria in our digestive system.
Resistant starch is turned into short-chain fatty acids by bacteria within the bowel. These are important for bowel health, and may even protect against some types of cancer. These fatty acids are also absorbed into the bloodstream and may play a role in improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Ironically, cooking or heating starch-containing foods actually destroys most resistant starches. But you can ‘reignite’ the resistant starch content of some foods by letting them cool after you’ve cooked them.
You can find resistant starch in:
- Green bananas
Protein is essential for healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. There are thousands of different proteins in our bodies, each made up of amino acids that join together to form long chains.
Our bodies use protein in a number of ways.
- Repairing cells and making new ones
- Making important enzymes and hormones
- Maintaining proper pH
- Boosting immune health
- Transporting and storing nutrients
- Providing energy
- Balancing fluids
- And more…
Meats and beans are primary sources of protein. Lean, low fat meats such as chicken, fish, and certain cuts of beef or pork are great protein sources.
If you’re not much of a meat person, tofu and tempeh are healthy alternatives. You can get your protein from eggs, lentils and beans, peas, almonds, nuts and seeds.
Dietary fats give your body energy and support healthy cell growth. They also help protect our organs and help keep our body warm. Fats help your body absorb certain nutrients and produce hormones, too.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as ‘good fats’ because they are great for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.
Try to include more healthy fats such as:
- Whole eggs
- Oily fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
- Nuts (all kinds – go nuts!)
- Chia and flax seeds
- Olive, canola and sunflower oil
Fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are primary sources of many essential vitamins and minerals.
Not only do fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that support our bodies’ daily functions, but research has shown that these foods can help reduce the risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases.
Fruits and vegetables are sources of many essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C, A and E, and folic acid.
Try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables every day to get the full range of health benefits.
The Nu-Lax Difference
In keeping with a high fibre diet, Nu-Lax contains pure dried fruits with ground Senna leaf. This combination helps the bowel in 3 important ways:
- The extra fibre from dried fruits helps to form bulk
- The Senna leaf increases lubrication in the walls of the colon
- The Senna leaf also increases the activity of the muscles that keep waste moving through the colon.
It is this three-fold combination of bulk formation, increased lubrication, and increased muscle movement, that makes Nu-Lax so effective, yet so gentle.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.