Foods To Support Digestion & Reduce Bloating By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com Digestion is an important body process, by which our food is broken down and absorbed to provide nourishment and energy. In fact a healthy digestive system is so important, the digestive system has often been referred to as the body’s second brain. If you’re digestive system is compromised you may feel tired, weak, sluggish, constipated, bloated, gaseous, have irregular bowel movements, acne, dry skin, hair loss and difficulty losing weight–– that’s just to name a few. Here are a few foods that are key for helping support a healthy digestive system. Fiber From Whole Foods Fiber is important for a healthy digestive system. Fiber, both insoluble and soluble, are key for regular, healthy bowel movements. The recommended intake of fiber per day is 25 - 35 grams, however most Americans only consume 15 grams. To boost your fiber intake, amp up your intake of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Some of my favorite fiber-rich plant-based foods include blueberries, cauliflower, kale, carrots, brussel sprouts, beans, avocado and oatmeal. Water Symptoms of dehydration include a slow, sluggish metabolism, difficulty making decisions, feeling on edge, constipation and difficulty losing weight. As you increase your fiber intake, it’s also important to increase your water intake. How much water an individual person needs per day can vary greatly based on their height, weight, activity level and the climate. However, a good starting place is to consume half your body weight (pounds) in ounces. Filtered water is best, however you can also hydrate with herbal teas, water dense foods like fruits and vegetables, and one of my favorites: hot lemon water. Ginger Ginger root helps stimulate saliva, bile and gastric juice which are essential parts of the digestive process. Ginger may also help improve blood circulation, which assists in digestion and helps to relieve bloating. Gingerols, found in ginger, also help to relieve the stomach pains associated with bloating. Fermented Foods Fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and probiotics. Fermented foods can help support good gut bacteria which can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. Hemp, Chia & Flax These super seeds all contain a healthy fat known as Omega-3 fatty acids. Bonus: they also contain fiber! One of the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids is their role in fighting inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the gut can put an individual at risk for candida, leaky gut syndrome, as well as irritable bowel syndrome. Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, have a mild nutty flavor and can easily be sprinkled onto just about anything from oatmeal, to soup, salads, yogurt, sandwiches, wraps, pasta or smoothies! Chia seeds and flaxseeds, when combined with water, can serve as a great egg-replacer in baked goods and are also great added to smoothies, homemade energy bars, granolas or oatmeal! There are so many delicious and amazing foods out there that support healthy digestion, but you may need to be a little more adventurous. 2017 just might be your year for culinary explorations and a healthier belly!