how to maintain healthy digestion on a vegan diet
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A happy, energetic life starts with healthy digestion. Your digestive tract is in charge of breaking down nutrients, so they can be properly absorbed and used throughout your body… for energy, growth and cell repair. An unbalanced digestive system can leave you feeling fatigued, in discomfort and with a whole host of symptoms you might not even realize are related. Keep things running smoothly with the tips below on foods to avoid, foods to eat plenty of and probiotic supplements to support digestive health.
Foods to avoid
Grease: Greasy fried food is damaging to your body in more than one way. When it comes to digestion, grease wreaks havoc because it is difficult to digest, causing all kinds of terrible symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, bloating and abdominal pain. Cut it out 100%.
Processed Foods: Processed food (including vegan processed food) contains refined carbs, added sugar/syrups and artificial ingredients. These are a total recipe for disaster when it comes to your digestive system (and every other system). Refined carbs fly through your digestive system, leading to bloating, cramps and gas, not to mention big blood sugar and insulin spikes. Artificial ingredients like artificial sweeteners also create inflammation leading to bloating, cramps and gas — keep it as natural as you can.
Gluten: Stay with me now. For many, gluten is one of the worst offenders to the digestive tract. I am one of those people. This sticky protein can be difficult to digest and causes inflammation in the intestines. Lessen the impact of gluten by choosing a different kind of bread – see below!
Eat more of these foods
Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens keep you healthy and beautiful from the inside out; from your bones to your organs to your skin. They are also important for digestion, because they provide phytonutrients to break down food and fiber to get things moving through the intestinal tract. Dark leafy greens also ease inflammation, which in turn aids healthy digestion.
Fermented Foods: Fermented foods provide natural probiotics, which are “good” bacteria. A healthy gut is all about a positive balance where the “good” bacteria crowd out the “bad” bacteria. Great vegan sources: sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir, kombucha, tempeh, apple cider vinegar, gherkin pickles and miso. Quality products will give you better results, so always look for smaller brands that use organic ingredients. If you can find a local brand (or can make your own), even better!
Sprouted Grains: When you’re shopping for bread, look for one made with sprouted grains. When grains are sprouted they are converted into a raw, living food with more vital nutrients, including enzymes that aid digestion. They are digested as vegetables (not as starch) and are more readily absorbed by the body. Gluten found in wheat bread can cause intestinal inflammation, but the good news is when you soak and sprout the grains, it helps predigest the gluten, making the irritant easier to digest.
Supplement with probiotics
Creating a healthy digestive system is like solving a basic equation. Good bacteria > bad bacteria = a healthy digestive system. To increase the levels of good bacteria, you need to add a quality probiotic supplement to your daily routine. We take quite a few Nature Made® supplements in our house, so I like Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotics from Walamrt. The Advanced Dual Action Probiotic is comprised of 2 probiotic strains. Each strain acts in a different region of the intestinal tract, providing comprehensive digestive support. In this product are:
- Bifidobacterium lactis SD-5674 (large intestine) which helps with occasional constipation and irregularity†
- Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (small intestine) which helps with gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort†
Find Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotics in the vitamin aisle at Walmart. Walmart is the best place to get everyday deals!
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.