Digestive health: a long-term investment into your future well-being.

Digestive diseases affect an estimated 60 to 70 million people. Prevention is as simple as loading your plate with smart food choices.

Here are 7 foods proven to help ease digestion and heal your gut.

1. Ginger

Ginger has been used for centuries to prevent nausea and vomiting, and many modern studies support these benefits. Reviews of studies using ginger for motion sickness and/or nausea associated with pregnancy, seasickness and chemotherapy show that ginger is significantly more effective than a placebo in preventing nausea and vomiting. Ginger also prevents bloating by breaking down and expelling intestinal gas.

Try this: Slice whole ginger root, combine with water and simmer for 20 minutes then strain and sweeten with honey to make a pungent tea. Simmer grated ginger root with carrots, onions and vegetable stock then purée with coconut milk for a creamy soup. Juice kale, apples and ginger for a delicious digestive tonic.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain, a naturally occurring digestive enzyme that’s especially powerful in protein digestion. Studies show that pineapple bromelain helps treat indigestion and digestive disorders, including pancreatic insufficiency. Research shows that bromelain can help counteract the effects of intestinal pathogens such as E. coli that cause diarrhea, and it may also reduce gastrointestinal tract inflammation.

Try this: Peel, core and slice pineapples, toss with chile powder then grill until lightly browned. Make a tropical slaw with diced pineapple, shredded red cabbage, scallions and a honey, lime and olive oil dressing. Purée pineapple cubes with hibiscus tea then mix with sparkling water for a fresh, fruity mocktail.

3. Onions

Onions contain inulin, a prebiotic that encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria and protects the gut from pathogens. Some studies suggest that the inulin found in onions and other sources, such as sunchokes, may also protect against colon cancer.

Try this: Pack thinly sliced red onions into a pint jar and cover with a mixture of boiling water, apple cider vinegar and honey then refrigerate overnight for quick pickles. Combine chopped yellow onions, red and yellow bell peppers, olive oil, vinegar and basil for a fast, fresh relish. Dip onion rings in beaten eggs and gluten-free bread crumbs, spray with olive oil then bake until golden and tender.

4. Sunchokes

Sunchokes, the root of a type of sunflower, are also rich in inulin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. Because prebiotics aren’t digested in the small intestines, they serve as sources of energy for beneficial bacteria, improving the composition and increasing activity of probiotics in the gut and protecting against flatulence and bloating. Be sure to cook them well; eaten raw or lightly cooked, they can have the opposite effect and cause gas and bloating.

Try this: Thinly slice sunchokes, sauté in coconut oil until lightly browned then add balsamic vinegar and chopped thyme. Cook chopped sunchokes, sweet potatoes and onions in stock until soft then purée with coconut oil for a creamy soup. Roast chopped sunchokes with cubed beets, carrots, parsnips and rosemary.

5. Fennel

Fennel has been used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine to improve digestion and treat a wide range of gut ailments. Also, fennel essential oil has been found to help relieve gas, improve intestinal function, aid digestion and ease some forms of chronic colitis.

Try this: Grind fennel seeds in a spice mill or coffee grinder then add to oatmeal, burgers or soups for flavor and digestive potential. Toss raw fennel slices with baby arugula, grapefruit segments, minced basil, pine nuts and olive oil. Quarter fennel bulbs, toss with olive oil then roast until tender.

6. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut made from fermented cabbage, is rich in probiotics to improve digestive health and relieve digestive symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and flatulence. Some studies show that certain strains of probiotics are especially helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Always eat it raw; heat will kill the bacteria and destroy the benefits.

Try this: Toss prepared sauerkraut with baby spinach, grated carrots and chopped scallions for an easy, healing salad. Use it as a topping for burgers, sandwiches or scrambled eggs. Make a hearty white bean soup then top with sauerkraut after removing from heat.

7. Papaya

Papaya contains a naturally occurring digestive enzyme called papain that treats and improves various types of digestive and abdominal disorders, including indigestion, heartburn and constipation, and is especially useful in digesting protein. In a study published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, people who took a papain-rich papaya preparation reported significant improvement in constipation and bloating.

Try this: Purée 1 cup frozen papaya cubes with the juice of one lime and honey to taste for a fast, creamy smoothie. Make a salad of papaya slices with avocado slices, thinly sliced red onion and baby arugula leaves and drizzle with olive oil. Combine papaya cubes with minced jalapeños, scallions, cilantro and lime juice for a tropical salsa.

Written by Lisa Turner for Clean Eating Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Vitamin & Me: Wellness & Digestive Health

At Vitamin & Me, we believe food is medicine, and the first way to supplement for a healthy gut is with nutrient-rich whole foods. However, if you’re in a pinch, taking a probiotic will do the trick, too. And with thousands on the market, we know that the initial stage of trying to find the best vitamin can be overwhelming.

That’s why we created our personalized vitamin quiz — to help you find just the right supplement for your health with just a few clicks. As always, feel free to reach out to us at hello@vitaminandme.com for one-on-one advisement from one of our health experts.

For more health and wellness, follow along @vitaminandme! You are our top priority.

Featured image provided by Clean Eating Magazine

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