The process of digestion is a complex one that consumes a significant amount of energy. Consuming foods that support our gut health and are easy to digest is one of the most effective ways to optimise our well-being and make the most of our day.
When we consume foods that are heavy on the stomach or challenging to digest, it can lead to various side effects, including bloating, post-meal fatigue, joint pain, inflammation, leaky gut, headaches, acid reflux, aches, and more9.
In this article, we will explore some of the best foods to promote smooth digestion and how they can benefit our gut bacteria.
1. Overnight Oats
Oats are an excellent source of dietary fibre and prebiotics for our gut bacteria. They also contain beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol and supports heart health1.
When soaked overnight, the anti-nutrients in the oats and minerals are released, making the oats soft and easily digestible. Soaking the oats also breaks down phytic acid, which can help prevent digestive issues1.
Moreover, oats are highly versatile, offering a range of flavours like cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, and apple spice, so get creative!
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of soluble fibre, vitamins C and E, and they contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene2.
When baked, they become soft and are incredibly easy to digest. Rich in potassium, sweet potatoes are an excellent prebiotic for our gut bacteria. They also contain magnesium, promoting the secretion of GABA in the brain—a neurotransmitter that induces relaxation, making the digestion process smoother2.
Fish is an excellent source of protein, containing all essential amino acids, as well as vitamin D, B12, and selenium. Oily fish, in particular, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA), which reduce inflammation and are beneficial for the gut lining.
These foods are typically well-tolerated and have significantly lower saturated fat content compared to red meat. Fish also possesses a softer cell structure compared to beef or pork, making it easier to digest than other meats3.
4. Steamed White Rice
High-fibre rice, such as brown rice, may contribute to digestive issues like diarrhoea, bloating, and gas due to its fibre content.
White rice, being a simple carbohydrate, is an excellent option for those with IBS or digestive disorders. It is low in fibre and saturated fat and can be digested in as little as 20-30 minutes4.
We recommend avoiding the addition of extra oils and other fat sources when consuming rice, as it can make it harder to digest. It is best to opt for plain rice and add toppings with caution until you find which ones suit your gut best.
Bananas are a popular fruit for a reason! They are easy to digest and rich in electrolytes and potassium, which can help reduce muscle cramps. They also contain essential vitamins such as vitamin B6 and vitamin C, both of which benefit your immune system5.
High in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a dietary fibre, they are an excellent prebiotic, easily broken down in the intestine and serving as food for our beneficial gut bacteria5.
Riper bananas are softer and tend to be easier to digest than non-ripe ones due to their higher sugar content. We recommend trying both types to see how your gut responds.
6. Probiotic Yogurt
Yoghurt and kefir are among the most popular fermented foods worldwide due to their taste and health benefits. Both are rich in probiotics, supporting the gut microbiome and promoting healthy digestion.
Probiotic foods increase the levels of beneficial bacteria in our guts, facilitating easier digestion and a thriving immune system. We recommend choosing low-fat yoghurt, as fat can slow down the digestive process and make it harder to digest6.
7. Soups and Broths
Soups and broths, being in liquid form, are digested almost immediately and are readily absorbed by the body. They are also highly nutritious, serving as an excellent source of nutrients. Bone broth, in particular, is high in amino acids, electrolytes, and collagen, which is soothing for the gut lining7.
8. Papaya Fruit
Papaya fruit is extremely nutritious and high in antioxidants, and vitamin C. It also contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain, which aid digestion and allow it to be easily broken down in the digestive tract3.
Additionally, papaya is high in fibre and water content, both of which help prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, amino acids, and omega-3 DHA in the yolk, supporting the intestinal barrier. With a smooth texture that is easily broken down in the gut, eggs are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals like choline (important for memory), vitamin A (essential for vision), and vitamin D (for healthy bones)7. They are incredibly versatile and can be boiled, poached, or scrambled.
10. Herbal Teas
Several herbal teas have been shown to help with nausea, cellular homeostasis, constipation, indigestion, and IBS symptoms, and are easily digested8.
Fortunately, most of them are widely available and easy to make, promoting better digestive health. Some of the best herbal teas to consume include peppermint tea and ginger tea. Peppermint tea maintains the pH balance in the digestive tract, while ginger can help treat digestive disorders and improve your digestive health.
In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eating, but consuming the right foods for your gut promotes healthy digestion and reduces the risk of bloating, constipation, indigestion, and gastrointestinal issues, ultimately helping you feel your best.
This enables better absorption and utilisation of nutrients from your food, leading to increased energy, improved sleep, a healthier gut, and overall well-being.
We recommend trying a variety of foods to see how your gut responds and monitor any digestive symptoms you may experience.