5 easy remedies for digestion problems

After two years of being more mindful about our eating habits and food and health in general, we’ve developed couple tips and tricks that helps us stay free from digestive problems. Even though we’re not on keto at the moment we try to keep up with some rules that make our life a little bit more healthy.

I also noticed many people around me complaining about their digestive problems, stomach pains etc. So I thought I would share with you couple small but very powerful tips that can really help if you deal with digestive issues on a daily basis. And believe me they really work if you commit to make them regularly.

Also there’s couple people around me who already tried some of this tips and can confirm that they worked and helped them with their uncomfortable issues, that sometimes can be really bothering and often can ruin your day.

But lets start from the beginning.

How do I find if I have digestive problems?

If you notice any of this symptoms it means that there’s something not quite right with your digestion and you should start looking for solutions.

  • belching
  • reflux (reflux is a symptom of a deficiency of hydrochloric acid)
  • flatulence
  • gas
  • intestinal overflow
  • unpleasant taste in the throat
  • upper abdominal discomfort
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • tightness in the abdomen
  • general pain and discomfort in your stomach and intestines.

As I said many times, we got so used to this symptoms, they became so common, that most of us doesn’t even recognize them as something wrong. If these happens to you often you should definitely keep reading.

Lots of these symptoms are due to low level of gastric acid in your stomach. Stomach acid creates an environment where digestion begins. In the stomach, thanks to the gastric acid, proteins are broken down and in this form they go to the duodenum. When there are too few gastric enzymes, including stomach acid, the whole proteins (undigested) go to further processing. Then if you digest badly, undigested proteins sit in you and rot, undigested carbs ferment, your stomach swells, eventually the toxins begin to leach into your blood.

What are the consequences of lacking stomach acid?

  • proteins (meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes) will not be digested and absorbed, which increases the risk of related diseases, e.g. osteoporosis, degenerative conditions.
  • immune system begins to treat poorly digested proteins as an enemy and begins to fight “with itself” and produces inflammation that locates in various places and can cause, for example, allergies, asthma, skin problems, and thyroid diseases,
  • malnutrition – limiting the absorption of nutrients from food – so even if you eat lots of healthy stuff if it cannot be digested properly your body won’t be able to absorb all the vitamins and microelements you provide with food,
  • when this situation becomes chronic, and if you add to this prolonged stress, medications (especially antibiotics), constipation – bacteria and toxins can break the gut barrier and flow into the bloodstream. It’s called leaky gut syndrome and can cause “small” discomfort in our body (bloating, cramps, fatigue, food allergies and sensitivities, gas, and headaches) or more serious issues (autoimmune conditions, depression and other mood disorders, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis),
  • our blood sugar levels are rising,
  • it can cause skin problems: eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, vitiligo,
  • fermentation and rotting of improperly digested food that creates bacteria, yeast and parasites growing in the gut.

How do I know if I have not enough gastric acid?

Bicarbonate of soda test.

Baking soda is alkaline, and your stomach is acidic. If the gastric acid level is high enough in contact with soda, it should cause a reaction that will result in the appearance of carbon dioxide. So – a powerful burp! But if you don’t have the right amount of stomach acid, the reaction will be very late or not at all.


How to make soda test?


Make sure you do the test on an empty stomach and you ate your last meal yesterday at 6 p.m. at the latest. That’s a requirement!
Then drink 3/4 cup of water with a level teaspoon of baking soda. I have to warn you it’s not going to be tasty.
Burp times:

  • burp while drinking the potion, it’s acidosis. Low probability, but of course it does happens,
  • burp up to 40 seconds after drinking: acidity (the closer to 40 seconds, the smaller),
  • burp within 40 – 90 seconds, it means that your stomach is acidic,
  • burp from 90 to 3 minutes, then weak (the closer to 3 minutes, the worse),
  • and you don’t burp after more than 180 seconds or not at all, which also happens, means it’s not good.

I made this test before my keto diet and my result wasn’t the best (weak burp around 2 minutes after drinking soda). And now I regret that I didn’t do it again after couple months of keto. But I’m sure that the result would be much better.

OK, so you’ve noticed these uncomfortable symptoms I listed above, and you’ve made a test that came out as bad as mine. What to do next? There’s lots of thing you can do starting from changing your diet removing highly processed foods, gluten, sugar and/or dairy (depending which one creates the problem) and replace them with lots of fermented foods like: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles. But that’s usually a big change and huge step for most of people. I guess not everyone is ready for that. If you’re that kind of person, maybe small steps, small changes are better for you. So if you suspect that you have an issue with not enough gastric acid and other digestive difficulties, there are very simple, easy and cheap remedies.

As a disclaimer I have to notice that any of these are medical advice. All of these advises are coming from my nutritionist or from our personal experience. If you have any health issues please first advise your GP.

5 simple, easy and cheap remedies

for digestion problems

Apple cider vinegar.

You might feel it’s disgusting, but if you overcome the first couple times you drink it, later on it will be much easier. At the beginning I also thought it’s disgusting, but after couple days I got used to the taste. And couple of people I know that tried it also confirmed that it makes a huge difference and they feel relief. Always use raw unfiltered (also “with mother”) apple cider vinegar, you can also make your own using apples, water and sugar (there’s plenty of information online how to make it). To prepare apple cider vinegar drink you’ll need apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Simply add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a glass and fill with water up to about 2/3. Drink about 15 minutes before meal. As with most natural remedies, to work it needs to be done regularly. But if you try to include it into your daily routine it will become obvious and you won’t forget about it. Definitely worth trying. But if you absolutely cannot stand the taste of apple cider vinegar, at least try water with lots of lemon juice.

Linseeds.

Linseed or flaxseed as they say in US is a great remedy for constipation and for general digestive health. Main causes of constipation is lack of fiber in your diet. Fibre is not digestible but it increases the size of your stools and makes them softer. Larger, softer stools help keep you regular, as they move more quickly through your bowels and are easier to pass. Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and acts like a brush, sweeping through your bowels to get everything out and keep things moving. The soluble variety absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance. This helps your stool pass smoothly through your bowels and improves its form and consistency. Linseed contains plenty of soluble fiber and when comes in contact with water becomes gel-like paste that has a defecating effect, which makes it move faster through your intestines. This defecation process is what makes consuming linseed so different from any other kind of laxative. I know it doesn’t sound attractive but really works. I have a cup of linseeds every morning after my first coffee (morning without coffee is wasted), but you could have a cup in the evening. It’s also quite filling because of the fiber content, keeps you full for a while. You can mix couple teaspoons (like 2-3) of linseeds in boiling water and leave for the night then drink it, or rather eat it. But I prefer much more tasty option. Simply I grind linseeds using my old good coffee grinder. I mix 3 heaped teaspoons of linseed and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao powder with boiling water and leave it for about 10-15 minutes. Then I add a splash of almond milk and drink it. Tastes great and it has less gel-like consistency that’s difficult to swallow. I can guarantee that your visits in the bathroom becomes less stressful 🙂

Exercise.

Imagine your organs if you’re are sitting on the sofa or in front of the computer for most of the day – squeezed together without movement for hours. Believe it or not, but little bit of exercise every day can bring you some relief with your digestive issues. I felt much better (in every way) when I exercised in the morning. It’s past tense on purpose – I had a quite good morning routine before covid, then lockdown came and since then it’s really difficult for me to come back to morning exercise. But studies show that regular exercises can improve circulation in all areas of the body, including the digestive tract, physical activity improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, also constipation could be prevented with exercise, as being too sedentary can slow down digestion. Exercise although the simplest and the cheapest way to improve your digestion, is also the most demanding. At least for me. But definitely helps your body and mind in every way.

No drinking during meals.

As simple as it can be. Just skip a drink while you’re having your meal. It’s connected with the first point I mentioned – gastric acid. When you drink during meal gastric acid and digestive enzymes becomes diluted, which may result in slower digestion and retention of food in the stomach. The best is not to drink anything during the meal and have a glass of water or tea after 30 minutes when you finish your meal. Especially herbal teas are great for digestion, you can even make a with spices like: oregano, thyme or fennel. Which leads me to the fifth and last one remedy.

Use lots of spices.

I noticed that lots of people tends to use pre-made cooking sauces, stocks and dressings, instead of making there own full of flavour of freshly added spices. Even dried ones. Spices are everything! They not only boost the flavours of the food, but also (or mostly) have digestive properties. Sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, pepper, turmeric, ginger. All of them helps to stimulate digestion, regulates fermentation processes in bowels, helps to digest fats that our meals contains. They have bactericidal, cleansing and circulation-stimulating properties. They help especially with heavy meals full of fats that are more difficult to digest. Using lots of spices makes this process easier and less burdensome for the body. You can also use spices in a for of a tea or cold drink. My partner’s recent favourite drink mixture is camomile, fresh ginger, turmeric, mint and lemon boiled for about 5 minutes. He drinks it cold through out the day instead of water. He says it cleans his body, gives him energy and helps to digest.

All of these together will work like a charm for your digestive system. I highly encourage you to try at least one of them. Would be happy to hear how they helped you, just share you experience in the comment section.

Source of knowledge:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519257/

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hydrochloric_acid#section=Top

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946491/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6790068/

https://drbeckyfitness.com/exercises-to-help-digestion/

all veggies you didn’t know you can eat raw

We are so used to prepare certain foods in a certain way, don’t you feel a bit bored with your cooking choices? When it comes to veggies we usually prepare them in a same way – cooked, pickled or raw. Typically we use raw so called “salad veggies” like: cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, bell peppers or tomatoes. Others like: broccoli, cauliflower and root veggies usually land in the soups, stews or casseroles. But what if we would look out of the veggie comfort zone and see if we can eat raw these vegetables that we usually cook?

Curious? Lets go then!

But before we get to the point lets have a look at some nutritional facts.

Apart from vitamins and minerals obvious for everyone, what else vegetables have that other foods don’t?

The answer is fiber. According to food science dietary fiber is essential for healthy body.

But what it is exactly and what it does?

Dietary fiber is the parts of plants that your body cannot absorb or digest. Normally all the carbs, fats and proteins are processed in your body and transformed to energy. Fiber travels thorough your digestive system mostly intact, and simply leaves you body. It also contains different nutrients and minerals but have different function. Scientists divided fiber into two types:

  • soluble fiber – this type of fiber dissolves in water making gel-like consistency. They bypass the digestion of the small intestine and are easily fermented by the microflora of the large intestine. Soluble fiber helps to lower glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • insoluble fiber on the other hand helps to move all of that you’ve digested to smoothly get to the point where you get rid of it. So it’s really helpful when you have constipation issues.
So what are the benefits of fibre?
  1. Ability to decrease body weight or attenuate weight gain – soluble fiber, when fermented in the large intestine produces hormones generate feeling of satiety. So Foods that contain a lot of fiber make you feel full and satisfied for longer.
  2. Dietary fiber may significantly decrease energy intake.
  3. Dietary fiber intake increases, the intake of simple carbohydrates tends to decrease. Soluble fibre can slow down the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels.
  4. Fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it so it’s easier to pass. When you increase your fiber intake also increase the amount of water you drink, so the fiber can absorb it properly.
  5. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).

That’s some of the good things that fiber does for our body. Although researchers still don’t know everything about what fiber does, many of them claims that there’s is a strong relationship between fiber and coronary diseases and certain types of cancer. There’s still a lot to discover.

So finally let see what veggies you didn’t know (or maybe you already knew that and it’s just me?) you can eat raw.

Cauliflower

Rich in nutrients, full of fibre. Great low carb alternative for grains and legumes. Recently very popular as a replacement for everything (I mean popular in low carb and ketogenic communities). Can be eaten raw, and taste delicious for examle with avocado dip, joghurt and garlic sauce or tomato salsa. My favourite option – caulislaw – coleslaw like salad made with raw cauliflower instead of cabbage. Yummy!

Courgette

Did you know that courgette is actually botanically clacified as a fruit not a vegetable? Wild courgettes are very bitter and should not be eaten raw. This bitterness comes from cucurbitacins, which may be poisonous for humans and animals. Store bought courgettes are safe, and can safely be eaten raw. Although if you bite into courgette and it tastes extremely unpleasant and bitter, it’s best to spit it out and dispose of the entire fruit to avoid the risk of cucurbitacin toxicity. Don’t let this discourage you from eating courgettes. It’s very unlikely that you’ll buy very bitter courgette in the shop. The best is always buy from proven stores or farmers markets. You can use courgette for variety of ways: it’s great in salads, you can use it as a low carb noodles, as a wrap or simply eat with a dip as a snack. The sky is the limit!

Beetroot

Oh I love beets, but all my live I’ve been eating them cooked or pickled. If you like beets, try them raw. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science, pickled beets have less nutrients than raw ones. You can eat raw beets in many different ways: thinly slices, served as carpaccio, grathed or chopped in salads, blended in fruit and vegetable smoothies, you can juice them with other fruits (like apples) and drink. Beetroots comes also in other colours than red, they are yellow and white. Try my raw beetroot recipes: raw beets and avocado salad, raw beets, broad beans and feta salad, golden beets carpaccio.

Brussels sprouts

Surprised? I was as well. But actually you can eat them raw as cabbage. They are quite firm and not everyone will enjoy their taste, especially if you’re used to eat them roasted or cooked. Wasn’t my favourite raw veg of choice, but definitely I could consider adding raw Brussels sprouts to all sorts of salads. The best way is to slice them very thinly, you can use a mandoline. With all sorts of dressings will be great addition to sandwiches or side salad for meat dishes. Definitely give it a try to find out if you like it or not.

Broccoli

Just the same as cauliflower, broccoli can easily be eaten raw. Small tendersteam broccolies can be delicious in all sorts of salads, but regular large broccoli finely chopped or divided into small florets can make crunchy, beautiful green salad. Just let yourself experiment.

Parsley root

Did you know you can use parsley root just the same as you use carrot? Add raw parsley root to smoothies, salads or make thin slices using a peeler and prepare small rolls adding some goat cheese for example.

Root celery/celeriac

Exactly the same as parsley root – instead of popping them into a broth or stew prepare juicy spring salad. You can grate celery root and prepare all sorts of different side salads. It goes great with: apple, raisins, cranberries, sweetcorn, pineapple, hard cheese, Greek yogurt or mayonnaise. Perfect with white meat or fish dishes.

Collard greens

I love collard greens slightly sauted with butter and garlic, but as othe cabbage they can also be eaten raw. Although similar to kale they need a lot of chewing. To make it less difficult to eat you can chop them finely, drizzle with olive oil and some salt and massage rubbing the toughness away. After this “treatment” you can add them to your salads and happily eat without feeling like a cow in the pasture 😉 Because of their large leaves, they will be also a great wrap if do not enjoy traditional flour wraps.

When you got to this point and you think: I wish I could eat more veggies, but they make me feel bloated, I have cramps and gases! Okey dokey – that may happen if your body is not used to eating raw foods (I mean raw vegetables) and whole grains. In this case start adding high fiber foods gradually and observe which ones makes you feel better which ones make digestive issues. That’s the easiest way – observing how your body reacts to certain foods if you feel like your body doesn’t like certain veg, you feel discomfort or simply don’t enjoy the taste, just grab a different one. Vegetable world is wide and for sure you’ll find couple veggies you really like. Or maybe you don’t like it’s cooked version, and the raw one will taste much much better? Become an explorer in a vegetable world this Spring and find your favourite tastes.

And one more thing before I let you dive into your veggie drawer: always wash your vegetables thoroughly before you eat them raw! Choose veggies from trusted source – your local shop or farmer. Personally I hate buying veggies packed in plastic, that travelled thousands kilometres before they landed in my bag, but it’s obvious that buying sustainable and local isn’t always possible. So choose wisely, but also do not resign from buying vegetables, just because you can buy them only in the supermarket. Work with what you have, the best you can 🙂

Source of knowledge:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/