By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Feeling bloated and like your stomach just isn’t happy after the long weekend? Well you’re not alone! With so much summer travel, barbecues, social functions and other events, many of us can find that we’re eating a little more/differently than usual – treats, drinks, hot dogs and other foods that might not be on your typical daily regimen. So it’s not too surprising that for many of us, this change in regular eating pattern can leave us feeling bloated or that our digestive tract feels like it’s not moving quite like it usually does. In short, it’s a bit thrown off!
To help soothe an uncomfortable or bloated feeling, it’s natural to seek relief in something, but before reaching for your over the cabinet stool softener, try using these natural remedies to help get you moving regularly and back on your usual schedule. Instead of reaching into the medicine cabinet, try adding these foods to juices, smoothies, salads (and other things) because they all contain natural digestion-promoting properties to give you that little umph you need to get back on track:
Beets are a natural source of electrolytes like magnesium and potassium that play a key role in muscle contraction and also in muscle relaxation. Due to their electrolytes, beets may be a good addition to juices, smoothies, salads and even on their own to help promote healthy digestion and de-bloat. It’s always a good idea to start slowly with the beets because for some they may result in more immediate effects of promoting digestion.
Papaya is such a refreshing fruit- and one of my personal favorites, and it’s also a huge help when it comes to promoting digestion, relieving bloating and promoting healthy movement through the gastrointestinal tract. Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that works to help digest the protein in the food we eat. Research also suggests that papayas may be beneficial in protecting the dig
estive system from damage and may also help protect against stomach ulcers. As an added benefit, papaya contains lycopene that may help to protect the skin from sun damage as well.
Mango is another favorite, and what most of us aren’t aware of is that it contains digestive properties and may help to promote digestion, ease bloating and constipation. Mangoes also contain vitamin C that’s been shown to also promote healthy digestion and also contains amylase, and enzyme that helps to promote digestion specifically of carbohydrates.
Pineapple is another great fruit that may help to promote digestion and ease bloating and constipation. Pineapple like mango contains vitamin C that may help to naturally promote digestion, and it also contains bromelain that is an enzyme that specifically helps to promote digestion of protein.
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, arugula and others aren’t only beautiful to look at but they’re also great for you. They’re a source of fiber that can help to ease bloating and promote healthy digestion, but perhaps most importantly they are a source of magnesium that can help to promote muscle relaxation that may help with promoting bowel movements that can ease bloat as well. In addition to being good for muscle relaxation, magnesium is also important for heart health as well as other key processes in the body- so it’s good all around!
Celery is another great vegetable that’s loaded with hydrating electrolytes that are key for allowing fluid to move into your muscles and tissues, and also may be helpful with promoting digestion due to it’s mild and natural laxative effect. You can use celery in a bunch of ways- as part of a juice, as a snack by itself or in a salad for example.
Peppermint may help to soothe the stomach and may help to soothe and relax the bowels as well. You can sip peppermint tea that may help to promote digestion and ease and upset stomach. Add 2-3 sprigs of mint to your juice for added flavor and nutritional benefit as well!
Parsley also has natural digestive properties that may help to promote digestion and fight bloat. Use it fresh or dried in your juices, on salads or in cooking. Add 2-3 sprigs of parsley to your juice for added flavor, or add 1-2 mini sprigs to salads and other meals for garnish and flavor as well.
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