The Best Foods for Your Gut

Erica Sanderson | Aug 8th 2014

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Regulate your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and fight a range of ailments with these 10 foods for a healthy, balanced system.

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There’s truth to the famous saying about eating one every day. Apples contain fiber that eases constipation. Keep the skin on! It’s one of the healthiest parts. It contains high amounts of pectin, a type of fiber that promotes healthy bacteria, and plant nutrients called polyphenols that support the mucosal lining of the stomach. Avoid tart apples that might upset the stomach.

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Celery’s nutritional value is often overlooked, but there’s more to the stalk than you think. Celery helps regulate bowel movements because of its fiber content and is beneficial for stomach lining because of its polysaccharides. It also has coumarin, an antioxidant that studies show boosts white blood cell activity to help heal the gut. Eat it raw—the juice has most of the benefits.

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Various cultures have used ginger for indigestion for centuries. So what’s its secret? Gingerols, a compound that relieves pain and moves foods through the GI tract. Ginger is packed with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that target damaging pathogens, promote circulation and boost the immune system. Replace sugary ginger ale for ginger tea—the hot water is another digestive bonus.

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This licorice-tasting veggie is known to relieve bloating and gas. Fennel is a great source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Chew fennel seeds or make tea from the seeds for best results.

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Greek yogurt

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In case you haven’t heard, probiotics are very important for digestive health. Probiotics are living microorganisms that balance and boost healthy gut bacteria, improve digestion and fight harmful pathogens. Yogurt is a good natural source of probiotics.

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Bananas have fructooligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that acts as a prebiotic to maintain healthy flora in the GI tract. Bananas also restore electrolytes and potassium lost from diarrhea. However, they are high in sugar, so limit your intake.

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All fats are not equal. Healthy fats, like the omega-3s found in avocados, are good for you and your gut. Healthy fats help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins K and C. Avocado’s high oleic acid content supports the digestive tract. The yummy green fruit also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

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Even though cucumbers can trigger burping in some people, they benefit digestion. The seeds and skin contain important insoluble fiber to get your system going. They also contain potassium. The real kicker is that cucumbers are mostly water. This is crucial for hydrating your body and bowels, especially if you’re experiencing diarrhea.

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This tropical fruit probably is not on your shopping list, but you might want to stock up if you’re having GI problems. Papaya is an anti-inflammatory fruit with vitamins A and C. It also contains a host of digestive enzymes, such as chymopapain and papain.

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Don’t forget to consume plenty of water when you’re eating high-fiber foods. Fiber creates bulk in your intestines that soaks up water from your system. Prevent dehydration and keep your system moving smoothly with water throughout the day.