The key to increasing fiber in your diet is to take it slowly and steadily, giving your body enough time and space to get used to the increase in fiber. Let’s learn a few of the best vegetables for digestion that you can consider incorporating into your daily diet to optimize gut health.
Ezgi Pekgoz, ANutr
Including as many different types of vegetables as possible in your daily diet is a great way to increase your body’s ability to process nutrients efficiently. In some people, digestive problems can lead to symptoms including; bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea. They are one of the most popular topics with my clients and our community. In this article, I list vegetables that are good for the digestive system. Both fruits and vegetables are known for their fiber content, but there are some important vegetables that have a “special” effect on digestion.
Depending on your unique digestive system, gut microbiota, and tolerance to fiber, eating too much fiber can either leave you feeling very full and possibly constipated or with frequent bathroom breaks. The key to increasing fiber in your diet is to take it slowly and steadily, giving your body enough time and space to get used to the increase in fiber. Let’s learn a few of the best vegetables for digestion that you can consider incorporating into your daily diet to optimize gut health.
How vegetables support digestion?
We hear a lot about the health benefits of fiber— but all too often, the pros of eating fiber go overlooked. Dietary fiber, found particularly in vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains, helps to keep bowel movements regular. Individuals who consume high-fiber diets have much lower rates of constipation than individuals that eat a low-fiber diet, plus they have fewer hemorrhoids and diverticula (outpouchings) in the colon. Too much fiber may result in loose stools, bloating, or even diarrhea. Bloating or gas is often experienced when starting a plant-based diet because many new whole grain foods and vegetables have been added to the diet. Including these nutrients in the body gradually will help your body adapt.
Artichokes For Digestion
Just one medium artichoke has nearly seven grams of fiber! Due to its high fiber quantity and phytonutrients, artichoke nutrition has a strong tie to preventing serious conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as having positive effects on liver and digestive health. To top it off, artichokes also great taste and are versatile in recipes too, including both low-carb and keto recipes if you’re watching your carb consumption.
The leaves are actually where many of the most powerful nutrients in the artichoke are stored. They provide prebiotics that allow the good bacteria in your gut to flourish. You need prebiotics (and probiotics) to help keep your gut healthy. More recent studies continue to unravel the link between gut health and many conditions, including anxiety, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes.
Studies showed that leaf extracts of the artichoke plant are used for their liver (hepato) protectant properties and also have anti-carcinogenic, antioxidative, antiviral and antibacterial effects.
Digestion Friendly Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fiber, as well as nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A. Research shows that leafy greens also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel growth of healthy gut bacteria. Eating a lot of fiber and leafy greens allows you to develop an ideal gut microbiome. A cup of collard greens, for example, has seven grams of fiber, while a cup of cooked kale has about five grams.
Greens contain a type of fiber known as insoluble fiber, comes from plant cell walls and does not dissolve in water. Examples of foods that contain insoluble fiber include wheat, vegetables, and seeds. Fiber works by both bulking up the stool and retaining water. Meanwhile soluable fiber is the form of fiber that dissolves in water. Examples of foods that contain soluble fiber include fruits, oats, legumes and barley.
Remember, greens also go well in a salad, but you can also try adding a couple of handfuls to your morning smoothie, to a stir-fry, stew, soup, or stuffed in a sandwich.
Squash for Digestion
It is a good source of fiber, potassium, and several other key nutrients. Acorn squash actually dishes up about nine grams of fiber and zucchini provides about one gram in a single cup. Maintaining a high fiber diet helps to prevent constipation and promote a healthy digestive tract. These easy to digest vegetables provide both insoluble and soluble fiber, but it’s mostly the soluble fiber that shines through. Studies have suggested that dietary fiber may decrease inflammation and improve immune function.
Broccoli for Digestion
Broccoli has an impressive nutritional profile. It is “high in fiber, very high in vitamin C and has potassium. Broccoli has nearly 1 gram of fiber per 10 calories. Fiber helps keep you regular and helps maintain healthy bacteria levels in the intestines. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that they were fed broccoli sprouts daily for two months reduced the levels of H. pylori in their stools by more than 40 percent.
Most of my clients with digestive issues have trouble tolerating hard to digest vegetables like broccoli when raw. It causes a lot of bloating, gas, and sometimes it inflates their stomach. In order to combat that and still get the nutrition punch and fiber boost that broccoli has to offer, simply cook it! Try steamed or roasted broccoli with balsamic vinegar, gluten-free soy sauce, and olive oil (my personal favorite). Alternatively, steam it, add it to green smoothies.
Celery for Digestion
Celery is made up of about 95 percent water so it can help improve hydration. And the antioxidants in celery help keep your gastrointestinal (GI) tract free from inflammation and disease. One cup of chopped celery, or about 100 grams, provides 1.6 grams, or 6 percent, of your daily requirements for fiber. Celery also contains pectin-based polysaccharides that possess properties that may help modulate stomach secretions and mucosa in the colon and rectum. It can improve the lining of your stomach and reduce stomach ulcers.
Many of us have issues with our digestive systems in one form or another, but would be startled to learn that there are steps you can take during the cooking process that can help. If you’re having trouble eating raw vegetables, turn them into a quick meal! Saute, fry, boil or steam – whichever method you choose to cook your vegetables, it helps them move more easily through your digestive tract.