It’s clear that diet has an impact on digestion. Among the foods that are most important to gut health are fruits and vegetables.
Fibre, a real ally
Fruits and vegetables have one thing in common: they contain fibre. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that our bodies can’t digest. It can help with constipation by stimulating the movement of food through the digestive tract and softening the stool. Fibre is our ally when it comes to gut health!
Including more fruits and vegetables at your meals, in addition to keeping our blood sugar levels more stable, can keep you feeling full longer. Fibre also helps to lower the “bad” cholesterol in our blood (LDL-cholesterol).
The gut microbiota
The microbiota is a set of microorganisms that live naturally in our gut. These bacteria feed on fibre, which are found in fruits and vegetables. By feeding on fibre that our body is unable to digest, these bacteria can produce different vitamins and nutrients that our body needs. Our microbiota will also protect us from different pathogens. More research is being done to better understand the role of the gut microbiota in preventing certain diseases.
Six tips to improve digestion
- Eat less processed foods
- Take the time to properly chew your food
- Drink lots of water
- Cook your vegetables
- Space out fibre-rich foods throughout the day
- Stop eating before you feel full
A healthy gut is not only about what you eat, but how you eat. As digestion begins in the mouth, it’s important to chew your food slowly. Avoid rushed meals, as stress can negatively affect your digestive system.
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can try a low FODMAP diet. This diet restricts foods that may be difficult to digest, including certain fruits and vegetable such as: onions, garlic, apples, mangoes, and broccoli. Consult with your dietitian or health practitioner before trying this diet. Find a dietitian in your area by using our Half Your Plate health professional directory.
One thing is certain: by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, you stack the odds in your favour for better digestion! And if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to a health professional for advice.
Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate ambassador