Digestive health is very important, as without good digestion, we don’t assimilate the nutrition from any foods. So learning how to use plant-based foods for good digestion is important. Different strokes for different folks. Some people say that raw food is best, others say that cooked food leads to better digestion (this includes Ayurvedic medicine practitioners). Do what works for you. If salad works for you, go for it. But if it upsets your stomach, then go for lightly cooked vegetables. What’s important is to eat your veggies!
Turmeric Lemonade (The Awesome Green) is a tummy-friendly recipe for digestive relief, by a holistic foods expert. This Indian spice is often used in vegan cuisine as it makes things yellow (not just lemonade, but vegan scrambled eggs too!)
What is known is that fermented foods are good. This is because they kind of ‘digest the food’ before you eat it, so the work is done for you. Viva! has a good post on why plant foods are better for our tummies. Conditions like IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease are all often improved, with a less inflammatory diet rich in meats. Foods rich in fibre (not meat) are also good to protect against colon cancer.
The Gut Health Cookbook by Croatian vegan chef Dunja Gulin offers 60 ways to introduce fermented foods into your diet with fermented pickles, miso and tempeh, live cultured cabbage, kimchi and sourdough bread (keep fresh dough away from pets). Recipes include:
- Banana & Blueberry Kefir Muffins
- Comforting Cacao Oatmeal
- Probiotic Gazpacho
- Egyptian-inspired Rice & Lentil Stew
- Scandinavian Chanterelle Salad
- Tender Spring Rolls with Fermented Onion
- Red Lentil Dosas
- Pesto Focaccia
- Coconut Kefir Smooth
- Sweet Cinnamon & Yogurt Scones
A new term is FODMAP. This stands for the ‘short carbs’ found in foods and stands for the tongue-twisting phrase of ‘fermentabel oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols’. In plain English, they are good for healthy guts, but too many can lead to gas and bloat. By reducing (no need to eliminate) high FODMAP foods (beans, garlic, onions, cauliflower and avocado), you may find that symptoms improve. Read the book Low-FODMAP and Vegan to learn foods to avoid or eat less of, with suitable alternatives and 70 recipes for pampering delicate digestive systems.
Plant-Based Digestion Supplements
You don’t always need supplements. But if you need a helping hand, it may be worth a try. Always tell your doctor if considering supplements to be safe, in case of contraindications or interaction with other medicines.
Feel Digestion are delivered monthly, and you can cancel anytime. They feature 5 science-backed digestive enzymes (to help break food down) and potent herbs, to help maintain a healthy gut. They include artichoke leaf to help the flow of digestive juices, fennel leaf to help reduce gas, and gentian leaf to help reduce bloating. They also contain peppermint leaf and ginger (check with doctor, if you are pregnant, as too much can lead to early labour).
Their Feel Beauty Probiotic includes lactobacillus acidophilus, which may improve abdominal discomfort and gas/bloating. All supplements are plant-based and in easy-to-recycle packaging. These use a special timed release formula so that your body absorbs the nutrients better, rather than wasting them through urine, soon after your take them. They do not test any products on animals.
Futurekind Probiotics Digestion Supplement (US) contains a whoppig 30 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) and profits help animals worldwide. Pregnant or nursing mothers or people under 18 (or with a known medical condition) should consult a physician before using this or any dietary supplement. Do not use if allergic to any ingredients. Keep in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight, and out of reach of children/pets.