Whether you have mild IBS, a chronic digestive disorder, fatigue symptoms or just want a healthier diet, there are some foods that have major health benefits, and some foods that are likely to be damaging or irritating. Here is a very quick guide to the yays and nays of the food world. If you are trying to help your digestive health, this is a good place to start – cut out the ‘bad’ foods and replace with the ones suggested below.
NB I am not a medical practitioner, and this list is not suggested as a definitive resource for a diet. It is a list of suggestions of foods that I have found to be really helpful in getting my digestive health in order. There is a lot of nutritional advice on the below foods available from expert websites and books – please refer to these for further information.
As a starting point, it’s best to cut out the following foods, which are common irritants and some have little nutritional value.
- Refined sugar and anything that contains it – read the ingredient listings on everything in your cupboard, and fridge freezer – you’ll be amazed how many contain added sugar
- White wheat flour
- Refined carbohydrates – white bread, pasta, white rice, cakes, biscuits, batter, chips, crisps
- Artificial sweeteners – especially Aspartame (has been linked to depression). Stevia is acceptable
- Gluten containing grains – rye, wheat, spelt, cous cous, bulgar wheat
- Lactose – a common allergen
- Alcohol – WHAT?! Yep. Sorry. Dry white or red wine or gin can be used in emergencies!
- Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and yams
- Beans and pulses – very hard to digest. If you must eat them, sprout them first to make them easier to digest
- Caffeine – can be an irritant
- Fruit, nuts and yeast can also be a problem for people with Candida overgrowth
If you want to give your digestive system a break, focus on the least irritating foods available.
- Cleaner grains – If you are not cutting our carbohydrates completely (as the SCD and GAPS diets suggest), the best grain-based carbs are oats, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and quinoa. Bread and pancake recipes can be found in the Recipes section
- Low-starach bright-coloured vegetables and leafy greens – spinach, chard, kale, cauliflower, brocolli, cabbage, green beans, celery, carrots, squash, pumpkin, fennel, onions, leeks, avocado – highly nutritious and helps to move food through the digestive tract, removing toxins from the gut lining
- Clean meats – organic fresh meats, homemade meatballs and burgers, nitrate/ nitrite free bacon
- Fish – a source of omega 3’s, which are really anti-inflammatory
- Garlic – lots and raw where possible. It acts as a natural antibiotic against nasty bacteria in the gut
- Ginger – an anti-inflammatory. Drink fresh ginger tea and chop into stir fries and curries
- Probiotic foods – will help to get rid of bad bacteria and help gut function. Concentrate on yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables and kvass
- Sauerkraut – a superfood in fighting Candida, stimulating acid production and introducing probiotics into the gut. Make your own, shop-bought has been pasteurized and therefore neutered.
- Coconut – oil, milk, flesh, desiccated, flour. Good source of fibre and an anti-fungal to kill candida.
- Eggs – fantastic nutrition, easy to digest, and versatile
- Nuts – avoid peanuts and pistachios. Soak for 8 hrs to make them easier to digest. Nut flour is fantastic for carb-free baking
- Herbs and spices – many herbs and spices have fantastic health benefits including being powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, especially turmeric, ginger, cayenne and chilli power, fennel seeds, cinnamon, basil, black pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, paprika
- Good oils – cold pressed organic oils have great benefits. Go for olive, coconut, flax, hemp, avocado, rapeseed, or seasame
- Teas – rooibios, peppermint, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, licorice, marshmallow leaf or root, chamomile, chilli, or chicory or dandelion coffee. I lived on Pukka’s After Dinner tea for a year – yummers!
- Juice – vegetable juice is an amazing detoxifier. Add a bit of fruit to make it more palatable, but be careful of the sugars in fruit juice. Always juice your own veg and fruit – shop bought has been pasteurized and filled with preservatives, and sometimes sugars and other additives.
Add some of these into your diet and see what a difference a little can make! Find a balance, listen to your body, and try new things. The healthiest diet is a varied one. Check out the Recipes page for some inspiration on healthy meals and treats.