Our gut can tell us a lot. If you've been feeling sluggish and bloated or been suffering from joint pain, skin breakouts or just irritation, it may be time to check in with your good buddy, your belly.
While inflammation in our tummy can occur for a myriad of reasons, it’s often our body's way of telling us it needs our attention due to stress, diet and/or dehydration.
Below we've outlined some of our favorite anti-inflammation foods, supplements, and practices to give your gut a bit of love.
Give them a try if your tummy is trying to get your attention, but if your symptoms persist, please seek medical assistance.
Get into your greens…
There’s a reason our folks told us to eat our veggies. Leafy greens aren’t just an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins, they’re also excellent aids for digestion.
Spinach is an anti-inflammatory superfood, brimming with a laundry list of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Kale, another supplementary superstar, gives us happy guts with its own omega-3s, but also vitamin K.
So… toss yourself a salad or toss some greens into your morning smoothie, stew, or stir-fry. Bake some kale chips for a savory snack. Whichever way you choose, get those greens in!
This agile grain was first utilized by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Chia seeds were considered almost magical for their ability to increase stamina and were consumed regularly, being ground into flour and pressed for oil.
Touted more commonly by vegans and vegetarians today for their plant-based fatty acids, these durable kernels are overflowing with minerals and nutrients that aid digestion. They’re a ‘functional food,’ combatting everything from nervous system disorders to cardiovascular disease and gut inflammation.
So sprinkle (or heap!) a tablespoon of these powerhouse pips into everything from oatmeal to soups and salads…or take advantage of their expansion skills in liquids to make a plant-based pudding for dessert. Either way, the ancients really had something right, here.
They can’t be beet…
Sweet, pink, and incredible for digestion, nothing beats a good beet when it comes to our guts. Beets are replete with betaine, a chemical compound that mimics stomach acid and restores your gut, as well as fiber and vitamin B-9.
These bad boys are excellent for your health! Juice them, add them to salads and soups, bake them into chips or just boil them up for a colorful burst of nutrition. Be mindful, though: eating lots of beets may make your pee a bit pink at first (beeturia), but don’t let that stop you from getting these superior roots into your diet.
Kimchi & Sauerkraut…
Another couple of formidable anti-inflammatory foods that can be found throughout history.
Sauerkraut and its finely chopped cabbage leaves has been a western fermented food staple since the 4th century BC. Kimchi, its spicier Korean counterpart is a famous traditional dish that traces back over 3000 years and typically includes sweet chilli paste (gochujang) and a mix of other seasonings.
Eating either of these fermented dishes has been shown to relieve gut inflammation as they create bacteria beneficial to your gut called probiotics.
Both are also high in vitamins while remaining low in calories. Research suggests that “specific phytochemicals of fermented cabbage leaves have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and a chemopreventive action against certain types of cancer."
For the best anti-inflammatory effects of sauerkraut, skip the processed hot dog and instead, add it to your leafy green salads and stews. Both also make for a tasty side dish or snack.
Time for some turmeric…
A popular Indian spice prevalent in many dishes, turmeric can be linked to Ayurvedic medicine (one of the oldest medicinal methodologies in history), where it was explicitly used as a remedy for inflammatory conditions.
Recent studies also show that curcumin, the antioxidant plant pigment found in Turmeric that gives it its golden color, has anti- inflammatory properties. Curcumin has also been shown to help prevent cancer and cognitive decline.
Turmeric is an easy spice to incorporate into meals, whether you buy it raw (it looks similar to ginger root) or as a powdered spice. Decorate your roasted veggies, pop some in soups and curries, make a turmeric tea or blend some into a smoothie. All are great ways to get some curcumin into your system!
Well, aloe there…
You may already be familiar with aloe vera as a spikey houseplant or sunburn remedy, but did you know it's been used for centuries as natural medicine? Research suggests Alexander the Great even used it to treat soldiers' wounds, and Egyptians named it "the plant of immortality."
Thanks to its extensive list of vitamins and minerals, aloe vera also works internally to heal and support our guts and relieve inflammation. And because it's a prebiotic, a form of fiber in probiotics needed to work efficiently, our interior décor is also anti-inflammation magic.
Aloe vera juices are popular throughout many Asian countries but can also be found in most health stores in the US. If you can’t find a ready-made drink, make your own by adding the gel from inside the leaves to your juice or smoothies…or just munch on some fresh off the plant.
We hope these tummy techniques can help your gut feel as good as new!
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