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Your digestive system helps breakdown food that you eat to provide the entire body with energy and keep you healthy; but did you know that certain foods can keep your gut healthy and help it function better?

Our digestion, to a great extent, is aided by different types of bacteria that line the intestine. These are the body’s normal flora, which regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients, protect against influenza and carcinogens, and prepare certain vitamins. There are some foods that keep your gut bacteria well-fed, so you can benefit from their gut-friendly activities.

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are foods such as yogurt that are a rich source of these bacteria. A regular intake is a simple and highly effective way of keeping your intestine in shape.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are broken down by the normal flora to release a substance that can protect you against many cancers. Studies show that these leafy vegetables reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
  • Legumes: All members of the beans family help strengthen cells of the intestine, better absorb micronutrients and aid in weight loss.
  • Banana: This fruit maintains and restores health of the bacterial colonies and is usually recommended when you have an upset stomach.

As much as digestion and absorption are important, the excretion of waste products is a vital process in the overall health of your system.

  • Roughage: Fiber-rich foods such as brown rice, whole meal bread, vegetables and fruits add to the bulk of the digested waste, helping it to pass out easily. A daily intake of 30g of fibrous foods can help in digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Fluids: Water and other fluids help soften stools, encouraging the easy movement of bowel.

While you should consider foods that are good for your gut, it is equally important to look into those that can cause harm.

  • Fatty foods: A regular diet of fried, fatty and greasy foods such as buggers and chips increase your system’s workload as they are much more difficult to digest. They can cause heartburn and stomach pain. Instead substitute with a healthy alternative of lean meat and sea food, grills rather than fries, and skimmed milk.
  • Spicy food: Extremely spicy food such as chilies, onion and garlic can cause stomach pain, heartburn and diarrhea.
  • Drinks: Certain drinks such as tea, coffee, colas and other carbonated drinks can increase the acid in the stomach, causing bloating and heartburn.

A conscious effort in choosing what you put in your mouth can go a long way in keeping you safe and away from various problems of the gastrointestinal tract.