Are you feeling tired, bloated, and kinda gross lately? Your digestion may be to blame. Happily, there are loads of naturally calming foods that keep your gut healthy and your digestive system operating at its peak.
What you put in your mouth is a great place to start when you’re looking to calm an upset system. Many plants and fungi can help with digestion, but why is digestion so significant to overall health? And what natural foods help us feel better?
Why is digestion important
"The human body uses the process of digestion to break down food into a form that can be absorbed and used for fuel," says Hopkins Medicine. TLDR; digestion keeps you alive!
There are a bunch of nutrients in food and liquids that the body uses to support systems, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The digestive system breaks down and absorbs these nutrients, and this seemingly simple act fuels bodily functions such as energy production, cell growth, and maintenance.
Without a healthy digestive system, we can sometimes experience uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, indigestion, and abdominal pain. Poor digestion can also result in a compromised system wherein nutrition from your food isn’t absorbed. This can significantly affect overall health and it’s why digestive health matters!
What foods aid digestion?
You'd be surprised how many plants, herbs, and fungi can help gut health! From pantry staples to more unusual ingredients, here are some suggestions to soothe your tummy.
- Fennel: Spice: The fennel frontier. For centuries, fennel seeds have been used in cooking and medicine to support healthy digestion. Researchers believe the gastrointestinal benefits are from phytochemicals, which help us digest and break down food. Taken as a supplement, or crushed and steeped as a tea, fennel is used as a traditional digestive aid in India and Italy, where they chew whole fennel seeds after meals to stimulate digestion and keep the mouth fresh.
- Turmeric: Turmeric's vibrant yellow color makes it easy to spot on a spice rack. While turmeric is loaded with health benefits, it's widely known for supporting a healthy response to inflammation and improving digestive health. Thanks to it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a great herb to keep on hand. Try it in your next meal, steep fresh turmeric for a tea, or add some to your morning smoothie.
- Chaga Mushrooms: Chaga mushrooms have been around for thousands of years. First used by indigenous people, the Ostyaks, this powerful mushroom offers many benefits and was first used medicinally to relieve inflammation in the stomach and intestine. Traditionally, chaga is brewed as a drink (polysaccharides are water soluble), but you can also cook with it to add fiber to your diet.
- Reishi Mushrooms: Once again, "the king of mushrooms" comes to the rescue! Scientists have been studying these shrooms for a while, and there's evidence they improve gut health! The adaptogenic properties of Reishi mushrooms also help with the gut and digestion by buffering the stress response, which can cause tummy troubles. Try it in coffee, tea, or in your next savory dish to replace Porcinis!
Our favorite digestion-supportive products
Here, we share Wunderground's favorite digestion-friendly products that aid in digestion and help you feel better.
- Hocus Pocus Instant Coffee by Wunderground: Ready to level up your daily ritual? Combine the benefits of coffee with digestive support with our Hocus Pocus blend. This coffee contains both Reishi and Chaga mushrooms, which not only help your gut, but also help to balance stress levels, nurture creativity, and more! You can try it straight up, or substitute Hocus Pocus for instant espresso in this tasty Triple Chocolate Espresso Mousse Pie recipe.
- Vitality Shot with Tumeric by Pressed: For a quick, tasty boost to our gut health and immunity, we love these turmeric-forward juices. When it came to creating these wellness shots, Pressed offers tons of turmeric, with a sweet and spicy aftertaste resulting in a happy, healthy gut. Seattle locals can find these juices at PCC Community Markets, and they also ship nationally.
- Orange Fennel Cookies by Bite Society: Bet you didn’t think you’d find a cookie on a digestion support list. But here we are! With delicious, digestive-friendly benefits, these orange fennel cookies are bite-sized delights, and pair perfectly with medium-roasted Hocus Pocus. For late-night, stomach-friendly munchies, we keep them in the snack drawer. (Plus, did you know that Bite Society offers same-day delivery in Seattle?)