Our digestion is a complex system, making boosting digestion no simple task. There is no one box fits all solution that we can be recommend. However, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are basic rules and foods that can help boost your digestion.
To get the best possible results safely we recommend seeing a medical practitioner. At AcuNatural Health we offer dietary advice along with our Chinese Medicine and acupuncture consultations.
Here are 8 ingredients that can help boost digestion and reduce symptoms of digestive issues.
The Boost Digestion Checklist
Camomile has been used for generations as a way of soothing an upset stomach. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties that can relax the intestinal walls, reducing indigestion.
This flower helps stimulate liver function so that it can produce more bile making it break down food better.
Liquorice root has glycyrrhizic acid which proves to be amazing at fighting inflammation and boosting immunity.
It can speed up the repair of stomach lining which makes it useful for food poisoning, ulcers, gastritis and heartburn.
This root also works as a good laxative for those with constipation.
In TCM liquorice root strengthens the spleen (key component of digestion) and boosts qi.
Note: do not consume too much liquorice. This includes no more than 30ml of the liquid extract. Also, liquorice lollies do not typically have liquorice root/extract in them.
Peppermint is cooling in nature and it increases healthy gastric secretions which will boost digestion.
This mint leaf can relax and sooth the intestines and stomach, reducing indigestion, heartburn and gas.
In TCM peppermint also promotes qi flow in the stomach and intestines.
This can include vegetables such as: spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, watercress, broccoli.
These vegetables can help boost liver function and decrease the amount of toxins in the body that overwhelm digestion. They are also useful at getting rid of phlegm in the body.
The vegetable artichoke hearts are high in fibre, antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
The extract, however, is a powerhouse for digestion as it can protect the liver, increase bile production and reduce lipid (fats) absorption.
Artichokes are good for indigestion and overactive or sensitive digestive systems.
Chinese Medicine uses lemons, mandarins and tangerines to help dissolve phlegm in the body and boost digestion. Phlegm in TCM is a main symptom of a lot of digestive (and other health) issues.
Citrus fruits and their peels can help spleen and stomach concerns such as nausea, vomiting, belching and bloating.
This includes: ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves. Not chilli.
These spices warm the essence of the food making it easier for the body to digest. You can add these to a salad and instead of a cold dish in TCM you have a warmer, more gut-friendly dish.
Many of these spices also help with anti-inflammation which will reduce irritations in the gut.
Rice is a neutral food in TCM. Depending how you cook with it will effect whether it is fundamentally cool or warm.
Due to this neutrality rice is very soothing to the digestive system and is used to help with nausea, upset stomachs and excess thirst.
Rice can also reduce diarrhoea as the starches can absorb more of the liquid in your gut.
A great recipe that uses rice to sooth the stomach is Congee which is a Chinese rice porridge.
Note: rice contains sugar so make sure to adjust your daily sugar intake for rice in your meals
Further Advice for Boosting Digestion
Check fibre intake as both too little and too much fibre can hurt your gut
Reduce sugar and dairy as these are both inflaming to your system and will upset digestion
Avoid or reduce the amount of cold/raw foods and drinks you consume as this will suppress your metabolism and cause inflammation
Do not overeat as this overwhelms the gut
Try not to eat too late at night as your gut takes longer to digest
For more information about digestion visit our blog post about gut detoxes and why looking after your gut is important.