Digestive Distress

Do you ever eat a meal and feel like you’ve either got a lead weight in your stomach or need to go and rest for a good couple of hours before you can move again?  You know you enjoyed the food but it feels like your body is having some challenges digesting it all.  Helping your body to increase its digestive power can ease this discomfort – and help you get more nutrients out of what you eat.  Making sure you eat the right healthy snacks and ingredients alongside or after a meal can help.

The theory is pretty straightforward – either eat foods that break down food and add to your body’s natural digestive power or eat foods that stimulate your body to increase its digestive power.  Either way you break down your food more effectively.

So what are the magic ingredients and healthy snacks you should be incorporating into your diet?  Here are our top 5 tips!

1.  Papaya

This fruit contains powerful proteases – enzymes that help break down protein in food.  Foods that are high in protein include meat, fish, beans and pulses.  Protein molecules are large complex structures, built of amino acids.  In order to use protein in your body you need to break it down into those amino acids – and that means breaking a lot of chemical bonds.  But that’s exactly what proteases do and eating a portion of papaya after a meal adds to your own digestive power.

2.  Pineapple

Like papaya, pineapple helps break down protein and the enzyme it contains that does this is called bromelain.  It’s no surprise that you often see gammon steaks served with pineapple – not only are the tastes complementary, the pineapple aids digestion of the gammon, which has a high protein content.  Mix some chopped pineapple into a curry for a fruity flavour and better digestion.

3.  Vinegar and lemon juice

The thing these two have in common is that they are acidic – like your stomach.  Acidity is important in digestion – it prepares proteins to be broken down, and it helps regulate the rate at which carbohydrates are digested.  The acidity of your stomach may decrease over time – as you get older the cells that produce the acid tend to become less active.  Adding some acidic ingredients to food can enhance the acidity in  your stomach and increase its digestive potency (though don’t try this at home if you’ve ever had a stomach ulcer).

4.  Bitter leaves

Like protein in food, fats are big molecules made up of lots of individual fatty acid building blocks that take a significant chemical and mechanical effort to break down.  Different enzymes, called lipases, do this in your gut.  Bile, which is produced in your liver, stored in your gallbladder and excreted into your gastrointestinal tract, plays an important role in the absorption of those fatty acids.   Eating bitter leaves – like rocket, raddichio and endive or using a digestive bitters liquid – may help stimulate your gallbladder to release more bile.

5.  Peppermint tea

This last top tip works slightly differently to all the rest – rather than increasing the digestive power of your gut it helps to soothe it.  Though you might not be aware of it, your gut is incredibly active when its digesting and absorbing food – relaxing and contracting to help move food through your intestines, producing and activating enzymes and hormones, and using its special surface to help break down and absorb food. Sometimes it needs soothing and recovery time too.

So what’s all this got to do with the healthy snacks delivered in a Nutribox?  As well as making it easier for people to eat more healthily we want to help people be more informed about what eating more healthily really means.  That’s why we share this kind of nutritional knowledge in our blog.

To find out more about what’s in a Nutribox click here

  • Ann White
  • 22 Oct 2013

Stay in touch