Any athlete, amateur or pro who is dedicated to their sport and the lifestyle will no doubt in my mind be a student of nutrition. To be the best you can possibly be nutrition is a topic you simply cannot afford to cut corners on. However, even for those who do eat the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats I do feel that way too many people overlook the importance of the digestive system. Before we go into the benefits improving the efficiency of your digestive system can have for an athlete, from a general health perspective it is vital that you give your digestive system the correct nutrients as you do for your muscles. Enough of the small talk, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of digestion and which foods can help digestion.
So what is digestion?
This might sound like a pretty stupid question but in order to gain a true understanding of this article it is best to start with a basic outline of the topic.
Digestion can be described as the catabolism of food, where it is broken down into smaller components where it can be absorbed more easily into the blood stream. The molecules have to be so small that they can be absorbed through the intestinal lining into your blood stream.
With that said it makes sense that we eat foods which support this process because your body is able to assimilate more of the nutritional value from the foods you are eating. Foods which are rich in fibre and digestive enzymes are the best way to promote healthy digestion. Probiotic foods are also great for overall gut healthy and digestion.
FitMag Top Tip – aim to eat 15g of fibre for every 1,000 calories of food you eat
Below are 4 foods which can be described as some of the best for healthy digestion.
Pineapple is very rich in soluble and non-soluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps draw water into the gut which slows down the digestion process which enables the body to extract a larger percentage of the macro and micro nutrients from the food you have eaten. This can also help regulate blood sugar levels as well as lower your LDL cholesterol levels which is the ‘’bad’’ cholesterol.
Insoluble fibre will help prevent constipation which can occur on lower carb diets for some athletes. It can also help balance the acidity levels within your intestines and remove potentially harmful toxins from your colon.
Pineapple is also enriched with a very effective digestive enzyme known as Bromelain. Bromelain is essentially a mixture of proteolytic enzymes which specifically help the digestive system to break down and absorb the proteins from your food. This makes it very relevant to any serious athlete when you consider the level of protein you eat.
Oats in their own right are a super food; there is an array of health benefits to eating them! Sticking on point, oats are fantastic for your digestive system because they are very rich in fibre in soluble and non-soluble fibre.
Oats are also extremely convenient to have and are a great way to start your day.
For those on a lower carb diet it can be hard to get enough fibre. Flaxseeds are a super source of soluble fibre which by now you know helps the body absorb the nutritional content of foods. Flaxseeds are also very rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and oils which can help the digestive process by lubricating the digestive tract.
When the fibre within flaxseeds is digested there are components known as lignans with the main one being known as SDG. Lignans are known for their ability to act as a powerful anti-oxidant within the blood. This is just one of the many benefits of getting your fibre from flaxseeds.
Probiotic enriched yogurt
Eating foods rich in probiotics is something I am a huge advocator of. Within your gut you will have harmful bacteria which can cause issues with digestion which is one of the main causes of indigestion and bloating of the stomach. Probiotics are a healthy bacteria which help suppress these harmful bacterias.
Having some probiotic yogurt with your breakfast is something I feel can be greatly beneficial to you and your digestive system.
Whilst there are plenty of other foods which will help with efficient digestion, there are 4 which I would personally recommend especially when you consider the other health benefits they can also have.