Not everyone wants to talk about bloating, constipation, and nausea, but we won’t let that stop us. After all, a well-running digestive system is important for much more than just a flat tummy.
When everything works as it should, your body can clear waste from your body quickly and efficiently. But if it doesn’t, then all types of issues can set in. We’re talking about fatigue, bad skin, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances.
So, needless to say, we take digestive health pretty seriously at Sunwink. For those experiencing problems with digestion, superfoods can go a long way in getting things moving again.
Curious about incorporating digestive plants into your diet? Keep reading this guide to discover five ideas — in addition to our favorite superfoods for digestion.
What Is a Healthy Digestive System?
We can talk all day about healthy digestion, but what does it mean?
Well, we certainly know what it feels like. We’re talking regular elimination, minimal bloating, and no nasty symptoms like nausea or flatulence. But what does this mean in physiological terms?
Well, our digestive tract is a complex network of different organs. For digestion to be “healthy,” all of the following should be in order:
- Mucosa: Our bodies have mucosal cells, which — true to their name — secrete mucus. While too much of it isn’t good, it’s very important for protecting the body from pathogens while helping it absorb nutrients from food.
- Digestivesecretions: While food travels from our mouth to our intestine, the body secretes all kinds of fluids to help with breaking down food. When everything works as it should, the body can liberate vitamins and minerals, absorb them, and put them to good use.
- Liver: The liver secretes bile, which is necessary for digesting fat and eliminating excess cholesterol. Bile is also important for regular bowel movements.
- Intestinal muscles: When the intestinal muscles are healthy, they can make sure that food travels through it for an adequate amount of time — about 18-24 hours. If it stays longer, the result can be constipation. On the other hand, a shorter transit time could mean that all the nutrients don’t get absorbed.
- Microbiome: Our microbiome (A.K.A. “the gut”) is made out of billions of bacteria. Some of these are good, while some are bad. Good bacteria help break down food, secrete all kinds of chemicals (such as serotonin), and communicate with the immune system. We want to optimize the amount of beneficial bacteria in the microbiome for a healthy gut.
Top 5 Superfoods for Digestion
Our digestive system and gut health are very sensitive to the effects of a poor diet, emotional stress, and hormonal changes. So, it’s no surprise that 10% of the population experiences an upset stomach at any given time.
Superfoods to the rescue!
Working in unique ways, some superfoods can quell nausea, nourish the gut, and get things moving again.
Here are five of our favorite superfoods to soothe digestive issues and support proper digestive function:
Ginger is a classic home remedy with health benefits pertaining to relief from nausea, vomiting, and an upset stomach.
The active compounds in ginger are called gingerols. These inhibit inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins, which can help to soothe an upset stomach.
Ginger can also increase saliva flow, which can help the body to break down food. In addition, ginger can increase how quickly food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, which can prevent problems like food fermentation in the large intestine — a major cause of gas.
Best of all, ginger has been shown to be incredibly safe. It’s even recommended for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness.
We all know and love ginger ale. Sunwink has an elevated version of this classic beverage — one without added sugar and with tons of other superfoods. Meet our Detox Ginger Sparkling Superfood Tonic.
The use of peppermint for digestion goes as far back as ancient Greece.
Today, we know that peppermint has antispasmodic properties. In other words, it can help to relax the muscles of the intestinal walls, which can support relief from stomach cramps, bloating, and stomach pain.
Peppermint also tastes incredibly refreshing. For those experiencing nausea, chewing on just a few peppermint leaves can help to quell those unpleasant symptoms.
We love peppermint’s taste and effects on the digestive system. That’s why we included it in our ultra-refreshing Hibiscus Mint Unwind Sparkling Superfood Tonic.
With origins in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, fennel seeds and leaves are typically used after meals to support digestion and ease digestive problems.
Fennel may support digestion by reducing inflammation in the bowels and balancing “bad” bacteria in the gut, which can prevent bloating and constipation.
Fennel may also help with secreting some digestive enzymes, which can help the body to break down and absorb nutrients from food.
Dandelion belongs to a class of plants known as bitters, which are traditionally used as an after-meal “treat” to promote digestion.
Dandelion may help to stimulate bile production, making it easier for the body to digest and eliminate fat. This plant can also help to get things “moving,” speeding up digestion for those who are constipated.
Last, dandelion root contains a starchy carbohydrate known as inulin. This is a probiotic that can help to increase good gut bacteria, supporting optimal microbiome health.
You can find dandelion in our Detox Greens Superfood Powder.
Chamomile is typically used as a “calming” tea, which is perfect for settling down before bedtime. The same properties that make it so relaxing are also responsible for its awesome effects on the digestive system.
Chamomile has spasmolytic properties, which means it can reduce muscle tension — perfect for relaxing a tense gut and increasing elimination. It may also help relieve anxiety, which is a major issue in those who experience frequent stomach problems. (Anxiety is even thought to cause irritable bowel syndrome!)
5 Ways To Incorporate Digestive Plants into Your Diet
Convinced about the benefits of digestive plants? We can’t blame you!
Here are five easy ways to introduce it into your diet:
1. Fall in Love With Digestive Bitters
Many plants fall into the category of bitters. Dandelion is one that we mentioned above, but some other bitter herbs also include burdock, artichoke, and gentian.
These plants work essentially in the same way: By helping with stomach acid secretion, which improves digestion.
Bitters are, true to their name, bitter. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be delicious. They’re traditionally brewed in digestive tinctures, ultra-concentrated forms of these plants.
To take them, simply place a dropperful of your chosen bitter on your tongue and hold it for about 15 seconds until you begin to salivate. If you don’t mind having some alcohol with your bitters, there are plenty of after-dinner bitter cocktails you can ask your bartender to whip up for you.
2. Sip on Some Tea
Some digestive plants, such as ginger, are downright delicious. If you like the taste, you can use your favorite digestive plant's seeds, leaves, or roots to brew tea.
How you prepare herbal teas depends on which plants you use. Some may need to be steeped for a long time, while others are ready in just a few minutes.
And you don’t have to settle on just one ingredient. Sometimes, blends can multiply the digestive benefits — in addition to tasting delicious.
For instance, ginger is great on its own, but it’s even better when combined with mint, lemon, and honey. Feel free to experiment with different recipes until you find one that works for you.
3. Upgrade Your Salad
As much as we love a good salad made of lettuce, you’re missing out on an upgrade to your digestion if you’re not regularly eating bitter greens. Options like arugula, endive, escarole, and dandelion greens are a great way to stimulate digestion before a meal, helping to prevent that heavy feeling you may get after some meals.
You can also use some superfoods as an added flavor boost. For instance, chopped-up mint can make a refreshing addition to your regular salad recipe.
4. Blend It in a Smoothie
A smoothie is a quick and easy way to get your daily superfoods.
Of course, not all digestive plants will taste good in your favorite smoothie. You might want to look up some smoothie recipes that are centered around the new ingredient you want to try.
Or you can try our Detox Greens Superfood Powder for the perfect addition to any of your go-to smoothie recipes.
5. Elevate Your Dessert
If you need something sweet to finish off your meal, we can’t blame you. A dessert can be seriously good for the soul. And it can be good for your digestion, as well.
Some combinations — like a chocolate mousse with fresh mint — are classic. Use your favorite dessert recipes and find unique ways to integrate some digestion-boosting superfoods into them.
Superfoods for Digestion
Your digestion is seriously important for overall health. If something feels off, then superfoods can come to your rescue. You can add your favorite digestion-stimulating plants to your salads, smoothies, or desserts or take them straight in the form of bitters. The choice is yours!
However, the one thing that’s non-negotiable is taste. For delicious superfoods that are sure to give your digestive system a nice boost, Sunwink has your back with yummy superfood powders and sparkling superfood tonics.