Angela Wright, Lead Nutritionist at InspireHealth, shares her tips for maintaining a happy - and healthy - digestive system.
Our friends at InspireHealth, Canada’s only publicly funded integrative cancer care facility, share this blog by their Lead Nutritionist, Angela Wright, RNCP. She gets to the bottom (pardon the pun) of a truly important topic: bowel health. Learn more about integrative cancer care at inspirehealth.ca.
Your digestive health is of high importance to your overall health. We can put the freshest organic whole foods into our mouths, but if we can’t break that food down to its nutrients and absorb them through the digestive lining and into our bodies, we’re missing out on much of their value. Your colon is responsible for the excretion of many of the toxins, hormones, and other wastes via stool. So if your stool is regular—that is, a bowel movement one to three times a day, with form but not hard, and with ease of passing, it’s a good sign that you’re able to get those wastes out of your body. Because if they aren’t going out, then they’re still in, and your body may have to deal with them over and over and over. More work, less benefit.
One of the most important pillars of colon health is, of course, fibre. Although fibre is not assimilated into the body, it creates bulk in our stool to aid in the removal of these wastes. Fibre can also provide fantastic benefits for our blood sugar, as it helps to slow down the release of sugars into our bloodstream. Aiming for more fibre in our diet does not mean adding more products such as All Bran Buds or Metamucil. All plant foods have fibre—it’s a vital component of their cell walls. So start by adding more vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. That change alone may work wonders for your regularity.
There are whole foods-based products on the market that can be very beneficial to our colon health and function. For example, cereal mixes such as Holy Crap or Qi’a are mixtures of seeds, grain-like seeds, dried fruit, and spices. When added to a little milk substitute or organic yogurt, they feel filling and can be an aid to your digestive health.
Both of these brand-name products contain chia seeds, which are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala, and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia is quite mucilaginous—it becomes slimy—when soaked in liquid. This slimy factor does a great job at coating the digestive tract, aiding in healing and repair. The fibrous slimy mass is also a great binder of toxins, helping to remove them from the body via our stool.
The bulking stool cereal mixes can be a bit pricey when purchased off the shelf but quite reasonable when you make your own. Keep it in a glass container in the fridge to better protect the oils in the ground flaxseeds. For breakfast or a quick snack, add a little milk substitute and perhaps some raw honey if you are craving more sweetness. Simply satisfying!
1 cup (250 mL) buckwheat groats
1 cup (250 mL) chia seeds
3/4 cup (180 mL) hemp seeds
1/2 cup (125 mL) flaxseeds, freshly ground
1/3 cup (80 mL) dried apple, chopped
1/3 cup (80 mL) unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup (125 mL) raisins
1/2 cup (125 mL) walnuts
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cinnamon
Mix all ingredients (organically grown, when possible) in a glass container. Store in the fridge. Feel free to vary your dried fruit or substitute with other nuts and seeds.
Have 2 or 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) as a serving. Serve with milk substitute, organic yogurt, apple sauce, or about 1/4 cup (60 mL) warm water and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Sweeten if desired with raw honey or maple syrup.