Even the healthiest eater can overdo it and run into digestion issues around the holidays. Help your family avoid stomach upsets by incorporating these foods in your diet. They include two thing to help you avoid stomach problems: probiotics and fiber.
Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that keep the microflora, or organisms, in your intestines balanced. It’s not uncommon for your microflora to get off-kilter, particularly if you’ve taken antibiotics, which can’t differentiate between good bacteria and the bacteria that are making you sick. Certain foods contain probiotics, such as lactic acid bacteria and yeast.
Dietary fiber consists of the parts of plant foods that the body can’t digest. Your body takes the carbohydrates, protein and fat from the food you eat, and the fiber passes through your digestive system mostly intact. Eating fiber-rich foods — fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains — helps to prevent constipation. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, eating fiber can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Probiotics and fiber can help you stave off stomach problems, so in which foods can you find them? Here are five choices to include in your diet.
Everyone has seen the commercials promoting the “good” bacteria in yogurt, and although you can purchase yogurts specially designed to aid with digestion, it’s not necessary. According to WebMD.com, any yogurt that lists “live and active cultures” should aid with digestion because it contains Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Swap your white bread for whole wheat and your white rice for brown, and you’ll be doing your digestive system a favor. In addition to extra fiber, you’ll be ingesting prebiotics, the indigestible carbohydrates that probiotics depend upon to survive.
It’s true: Bananas are higher in carbs than most fruits, so you don’t want to go overboard eating them — but they are also high in fiber. And don’t discount their ability to help your system get back to normal after a bout with diarrhea. Bananas are filled with the electrolytes and potassium your body loses during a gastrointestinal illness.
Unpasteurized sauerkraut (as well as Korean kimchi) contains many probiotics, according to WebMD.com: leuconostoc, pediococcus and lactobacillus. Just be sure to buy unpasteurized sauerkraut, as pasteurization is designed to kill off both good and bad bacteria. (And remember that eating your sauerkraut on top of a Polish sausage will likely outweigh any potential health benefits.)
Start your sushi dinner off with a miso soup starter, and your stomach will thank you. It’s estimated that miso — a fermented soybean paste — contains an incredible 160-plus bacteria strains. The paste can be added to soup or spread on crackers, toast or corn on the cob. It’s pretty salty, so a little goes a long way.
If you can’t ingest enough probiotics or fiber through food to improve your digestion, consider talking to your doctor about including probiotic and fiber supplements in your diet.by