There’s been plenty of talk about digestion problems here on the blog in the past, and the more I write about it, the more it becomes apparent that SO many people suffer with them. I’ve experienced my fair share of these issues, but over the past year I feel I’ve become more in tune with my body than ever before. This can be chalked up to:
- being a total nutrition nerd, and
- an obsession with being my own experiment.
There are all sorts of remedies available (some that aren’t actually remedies at all… cough*tums*cough…) and I’ve tried plenty. In this post I’ve got my top 9 essentials for awesome digestion to share with you, some food-related and some not. Some you can buy, some you can make at home, and some won’t cost you a penny!
1. The super digestion trio: Ginger, fennel and peppermint
If you were to visit my kitchen, there’s a 99.9% chance you’d find these in some form at all times. Ginger, fennel and peppermint have been used for years in many cultures around the world to naturally soothe and aid the digestive system. Here’s why:
- All three are known as carminatives, which means that they help relieve pain, gas and bloating by reducing spasms in the intestines. (This is why you’ll often see them recommended for treating menstrual cramps as well.)ⁱ
- The calming effect helps food to pass through more easily, and all of this happens because of the potent volatile compounds and essential oils found inside each of the three plants.²
- Ginger, fennel and peppermint stimulate saliva and bile production, both of which are needed in the digestion process.
These 3 plants can be consumed so many different forms, from capsules, tablets and essential oils to freshly grated or ground as spices, in teas and in candy (but watch out because these bad boys are addictive).
2. Saje Wellness Eater’s Digest Roll-On Remedy
Aside from Peppermint Halo (a headache relief remedy), Eater’s Digest is my favourite roll-on formula in Saje’s Pocket Pharmacy. It contains peppermint and fennel essential oils and can be rolled directly onto the stomach/abdominal area to support digestion.
3. Saje Wellness Digest Herbal RemeTea
Guys, this stuff is the real deal. The ingredients in Digest Loose Leaf RemeTea are 100% natural, organic, and work like magic after a meal – or whenever things just don’t feel right in your stomach. It contains licorice (which coats the inside of the stomach), anise seed to promote digestion, plus peppermint and spearmint to relax the muscles along the digestive tract. You’d swear it was sweetened with something, but it’s just the licorice and anise fooling your tastebuds. 😉
4. Traditional Medicinals Organic Herbal Teas
Specifically, Organic Ginger Aid, Organic Ginger, and Organic Eater’s Digest Peppermint teas, for the same reasons I talked about above. These are bagged teas as opposed to loose leaf which makes them a little easier to travel with. There’s nothing worse than feeling bloaty on a plane, so I always have these in my hand luggage.
5. Fermented Foods
During the process of lactofermentation, bacteria feeds on sugar and starches in food which produces lots of helpful probiotic strains, enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. The healthy bacteria and enzymes can help us to better absorb the nutrients in our food (which means less $$ spent on supplements) and make food more easily digestible. As an added bonus, fermented foods can help draw out heavy metals and other toxins.³
Sauerkraut, kimchee (a Korean version of sauerkraut) and kombucha are some of my favourite examples of fermented foods, and they’re super easy to make at home. (You’ll also save a lot of money when compared to buying them in stores.) If you’d like to give these a try, check out my DIY kombucha and kimchee tutorials.
Over 70% of our immune cells reside in the gut⁴ so having a healthy one is super important for good overall health, not just digestion! Gut flora can be thrown off by things like a diet high in processed or refined foods, sugar and antibiotics. As mentioned above with fermented foods, probiotics help to add beneficial bacteria back to the gut which in turn means we’re able to better absorb nutrients from our food and remove toxins.⁵ I typically alternate between brands, and currently am taking Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care.
7. Four Sigmatic Digestion Superfood Blend
I won’t lie to you – this is probably the most undesirable tasting product of them all by a long shot, but it works! Four Sigmatic is a company created by an awesome team of Finnish dudes, and their products are made with high quality medicinal mushroom extracts like reishi, cordyceps, lion’s mane, chaga and maitake. (For more about medicinal mushrooms and why they’re so great, check out the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Academy.)
The Digestion Superfood Blend comes in a small pouch and contains a blend of maitake mushrooms, ginger, tulsi, rosehip and a tiny bit of stevia. It’s a good tea alternative after meals, and half a teaspoon is all you need for a single serving. It can be blended into smoothies, but I find the taste quite strong so I prefer to just dissolve it in a bit of hot water.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
I used to be the type that would knock back a shot of apple cider vinegar before a meal because it’s supposedly rich in enzymes which help break down food, and acid that helps us better absorb nutrients in the other foods we eat. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, so these days I prefer to use my ACV in recipes like salad dressing and other condiments.
When shopping, you want the raw, organic, unpasteurized kind. How do you know what unpasteurized looks like? It’ll have a nice cloudy, gross looking bit in the bottom. This is the mother (similar to what you’ll become very familiar with if you buy or brew kombucha) which is full of those beneficial bacteria. Are you noticing a theme here?
9. Overall diet, sleep and stress management
Finishing off, this post would be incomplete without saying that diet, stress management and sleep obviously have a massive impact on digestion. Using the things listed above in addition to a crappy diet, super high-stress lifestyle and poor sleep regimen is only a Band-Aid solution that isn’t going to work long-term. (When I say crappy diet, I’m talking about one full of pro-inflammatory, high-sugar, highly processed and refined foods. That might include gluten and dairy for some people, but that’s a discussion for another day!)
Taking time to relax and being mindful of not eating when my body is in a stressful state was a huge game changer, and one that I think gets overlooked and overshadowed by all the ‘cures’ we can buy. Obviously we can’t all just drop work and go do yoga or take a nap when things get stressful, but simply observing when you feel stress and making time to bring your body back into a relaxed state can make a world of difference.
Right… I think that’s enough nutrition geekery for today. Before you go, I’d love to hear…
- Do you have any go-to digestion boosters? Any ginger addicts out there like me?
- Are you an aromatherapy fan? Which scents do you like and what do you use them for?
Note: I have not been compensated by any of the brands mentioned in this post – I just really love their products and think you will too!