“My belly hurts” is doubtlessly one of the most overused phrases in America. Needless to say, I have whined, cried and moaned this locution countless times, whether it has been due to my infinite bouts of poor digestion or just to avoid school (not recommended, kid dumplings! 😉 ). When you grow up saying this phrase all through childhood, it becomes a rude awakening after you blossom into adulthood and suffer from actual belly aches. I had lived 23 out of my 25 years with poor digestion. I constantly felt clogged up (sorry, but it’s true) and uncomfortable. Things reshaped when I began eating mostly vegetables and fruits, natural foods and little to no gluten. Whether you are suffering from indigestion, acid reflux or generally just an upset stomach, these foods, herbs and natural remedies for digestion hold the power and magic to help you feel sunny and like yourself again.
Fruits & Veggies
There are a countless fruits and veggies that will naturally put your stomach at ease. Vitamins and nutrients to focus on are magnesium, iron, fiber and beta carotene. Here’s a hefty list of produce to make your belly smile.
Beets: Beetroot is high in fiber, potassium and magnesium which help maintain a healthy digestive tract. After you separate and clean those beet leaves, saute them for a veggie high in beta-carotene, iron and calcium.
Apples: Apples are high in vitamins A and C. They are also high in potassium, phosphorus and fiber.
Bananas: Ah, bananas. The healthy alternative to ice cream AND sports drinks. Bananas are loaded with electrolytes, potassium and fiber. All three aid immensely with digestion. If you’ve had an upset stomach or if you are…ahem…going too often, bananas will recharge you and your digestive tract.
Sweet Potatoes: Keep the skin on. Not only are whole sweet potatoes delicious complex carbs but they are high in fiber, magnesium and have been known to positively assist with ulcers and some stomach maladies.
Try: Vegan GF Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Avocados: I overeat certain foods. I eat them everyday until I can’t stand them. Unfortunately and inconveniently, I did this with avocados right before I moved to Los Angeles. My friend Mandy on the other hand, eats at least one avocado a day. Her belly is always happy and her hair is that of a goddess. Avocados are chock-full of fiber and healthy monounsaturated fat. Once in your body, avocados convert beta carotene into vitamin A which helps restore your digestive tract lining.
Carrots and blueberries: Both are high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants which will help keep everything flowing nicely. Artichokes are also on the fiber train.
Kiwi: Kiwi seems to be a king or at least a prince, of the fruits when it comes to sorting out some belly issues. Loaded with actinidin, magnesium, vitamin C and E, potassium, linolenic acid and fatty acids, they are especially good for those who have problems digesting after a large meal. Even the kiwi enzyme alone is known to assist majorly with the absorption of protein.
Try: Strawberry Kiwi Avocado “Yogurt”
Cucumbers: A cucumber’s soothing effect is not only great topically but also can soothe the outcome of acid reflux and help with ulcers.
Herbs & other delicious foods
Many, many herbs can help an uneasy stomach. They are usually best as a tea or if available, powdered and consumed. Many of these can also be found in pill form. Digestive herbs are:
Peppermint, Cinnamon, St.John’s Wort, Calendula, Cardamom, Psyllium Husk (this is very high in fiber and comes in either a powder or pill form), Cumin, Licorice, Marshmallow Root (no, not that kind of marshmallow), Turmeric, Fennel and Cayenne– when my stomach feels a bit off, sometimes I take a day off of food and drink back to back glasses of lemon cayenne water. It helps bring things back to normal, especially after a day of indulging.
Oats: Oats are rich in phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium and fiber which are helpful for keeping your body on schedule. You can make them into oatmeal or granola bars; the benefits stay the same.
Try: Savory Miso Oatmeal
Probiotics: This is my favorite one and also the factor I find to be most benefitting. If you aren’t familiar, probiotics are the “good” bacteria. Your body is riddled with bacteria, some helpful and some harmful. Probiotics are incredibly valuable to your stomach and digestive health. They are vital, especially in my life. You can obtain probiotics in pill form at most drug stores and health food stores. Probiotics are also found in a ton of delicious foods you probably already have! Fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso are among these foods. Many vegan yogurts also contain probiotics.
Ginger & Tea: Personally for me, ginger is at the tippy top of my list. I try to consume ginger any way possible. Hot water and tea are easy ways to get the aforementioned digestive herbs into your belly. Warm water is known to ease the stomach as well as relax the digestive tract and muscles. I’ve always been someone that defines tea as a flavored teabag steeping in water but I was proven wrong while visiting Prague in December. Not only did little stands on the street sell hot cups of mulled wine (so incredible), but they also offered “ginger tea,” which was sliced lemon and a chunk of peeled ginger about the size of an average fist, sitting at the bottom of a huge cup of hot water. It was perfect…and an ideal remedy for a peaceful stomach. Another simple mixture to help digestion is a bit of apple cider vinegar. If you can handle it, drink it straight up or with a drop of honey. If you cannot, mix with water. Both will do a fine job. Last but not least…
Chlorophyll: Chlorophyll completely changed my life, for the better. It is the only routine that I can keep up with and I drink it every morning, mixed with water. You can see more of its benefits here: Benefits of Chlorophyll
If you have any personal tips, tricks or remedies that will result in a sunny stomach, leave them in the comments below!
Also by Samantha: 8 Delicious Seasonings and Toppings to Sprinkle on Your Meals
Related: 5 Best Tips for Healthy Digestion
Should You Take Digestive Supplements?
Photo: Brando Bean via Flickr; Heather Cosby; Karina Alexander; Mary Hood