By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Bloated, gassy, indigestion and IBS are all signs of an unhappy tummy. If you are feeling any of these, there are ways to reverse it and feel better. Start following these tips and take note of how much happier and healthier your tummy starts to feel. And because November is National Stomach Cancer Prevention Month we’ve added a few cancer prevention tips as well.
1. Cut Back on Raw Cruciferous Vegetables
Raw vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts although healthful, can cause major stomach discomfort for many people. BUT cruciferous vegetables that are raw do provide many nutrients and potential health benefits so instead of cutting them out completely, try to cut back in amount (for example if you usually eat 1 cup, try 1/2 cup) per serving and try cooking before eating. When cooked, cruciferous vegetables may be slightly more tolerable, but there are also plenty of other healthful vegetables that can be swapped.
Key Tip: Swap in spinach, arugula, romaine and other greens for kale, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables on occasion; overall, varying vegetables can also help to provide an abundance of nutrients.
2. Add a Probiotic
One of the more commonly recommended tummy-tamers, probiotics, have been found to help restore and provide healthy bacteria to the digestive tract that may help to promote healthier digestion- and for many, reduced stomach discomfort.
Key Tip: When looking for a probiotic, search for a variety that has 5+ different varieties of bacteria. Alternatively, Kefir and yogurts also contain a healthy amount of probiotics.
3. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Fluids are key for maintaining regular movement through the digestive tract and preventing constipation (dehydration alone can cause constipation). Additionally, whenever bumping up fiber intake it’s key to bump up fluid intake to prevent constipation. Drinking adequate fluids can also help to prevent overeating, which can also help to ease stomach discomfort.
Key Tip: Aim for 64 oz. of fluid daily (more if you’re active), purchase a reusable water bottle, and set phone alarms for times when you’ll plan to have a drink.
4. Eat Consistently
No this doesn’t mean just pig out all day long but proper frequent eating is one of the most important aspects of not only weight loss, but regularity and preventing/improving acid reflux. When it comes to acid reflux specifically, one of the major contributors is having an empty stomach, so when Rebooters start having healthy meals and juices every 2-3 hours, many notice that symptoms subside.
Key Tip:: Make an eating schedule for times that you will be aiming to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; if you have trouble remembering to eat, try setting a phone alarm to remind yourself.
5. Cut Back on Acidic Foods
Acidic foods can be hard on the stomach, particularly when it’s empty (and also for anyone with heartburn). If you want to include citrus containing foods make sure to have something along with your food or juice containing acidic ingredients. If you don’t have acid reflux problems or tummy troubles, then drinking warm lemon water in the morning is a habit you should keep!
Key Tip: Eat up before drinking and chowing down on citrus-containing foods and teas; if you’re looking to swap out citrus from a juice try subbing for ginger instead.
Note: Citrus-containing foods, like lemons and oranges contain flavanoids, and have been shown to be potentially stomach-cancer preventive, so if you don’t have acid reflux or trouble with acidic foods, you can include them more frequently for anti-cancer benefits. (Hint: the flavanoid is found in the peel, so add some zest to your meal or leave the peel on when juicing.)
6. Keep a Food Journal
Keeping a food journal can be extremely helpful when it comes to understanding more thoroughly what works and doesn’t work for your digestive system. Keeping track of not only what you eat, but how it makes you feel can help you to realize what foods may not be working for you. Try our Reboot Tracker app if you’re on a Reboot!
Key Tip: If you identify food (or foods) that may be causing gastrointestinal distress, try removing them for three days and see if symptoms improve.
7. Load up on White Vegetables
Load up on white, allium vegetables including garlic, leeks and scallions that contain a powerful antioxidant compound called allicin that may help to prevent stomach cancer. When it comes to garlic, you must prepare the garlic then let it sit for 10 minutes before using to ensure that you reap the entirety of the benefits.
Key Tip: Cook with garlic, leeks and scallions (following the tip above for garlic) add to soups, salad dressings, and cooked entrees.
8. Eat More Orange Vegetables
Orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes contain powerful anti-cancer nutrients including powerful antioxidant vitamin C and beta-carotene that may help to prevent cell damage; sweet potatoes also contain potentially anti-cancer caffeic acid that may help to prevent blood supply from reaching tumors.
Key Tip: Add more orange vegetables to juices, salads, entrees and other meals. Try this Trick or Treat Juice!
9. Cut Back on Overly Salted & Cured Foods
Nitrates (preservatives) found in cured meats and foods have been found to raise risk for stomach cancer as well as overly salted foods. They are actually listed as one of the top five foods you should never eat.
Key Tip: Search for nitrate-free meats and processed foods (although you should always aim to eat as few processed foods as possible!).