Our body and mind are highly connected entities. A lot of things that affect our mind will have a direct impact on our physical being and the other way around.
When it comes to digestion, especially women seem to struggle a lot with keeping everything in order. Personally, I know that when I am stressed, my belly is a mess and it’s hard to not suffer from cramps or slow digestion in these situations. A great thing to do here is to recognize the stress and try to relax by taking a walk, listening to some relaxing music or a podcast for 20 minutes or just lying down for a second and closing your eyes.
However not all digestive issues are due to stress, a lot of them are actually due to foods that we eat that our body cannot and is not supposed to digest. One food that I recommend everyone to just avoid, is dairy. Even before I became vegan, I stopped eating dairy as it affected my digestion a lot. Dairy intolerance is nothing rare and I am sure you all have friends who are affected by it. But if you think about it, it doesn’t really makes sense for us to eat dairy after a certain age and that’s exactly what our body is telling us. We are the only mammals that continue drinking milk after we are weaned. We make cheese and yogurt out of dairy and tell our kids to eat them for calcium. But our digestive system is truly not capable anymore after a certain age to digest these products. People suffer from infections, bloating as well as digestive issue when they eat dairy. In addition to that, a lot of dairy products are highly processed and contain hormones through the animals that were fed hormones (in order to grow faster and produce more milk!). Now there are great alternatives to dairy milk such as unsweetened almond, cashew or hemp milk. There is also organic soy milk and soy yogurt as well as other plant based alternatives that are just overall easier to digest for most of us.
Another food that often causes issues to people is gluten. While I am by no means an expert, there has to be a distinction made between Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease and gluten intolerance which means you have some kind of allergic reactions (stomach issues, headaches) to products that contain gluten. Celiac disease, besides from its patients suffering from serious stomach issues, abdominal pain and anemia, is also dangerous because it prevents certain micronutrients from being absorbed properly and it can even lead to serious weight loss. Gluten to be avoided! Now gluten intolerance is still being researched but one thing for sure is that a lot of time gluten intolerance occurs when people eat highly processed foods that contain certain grains. I would suggest to overall avoid such foods but not to become obsessed. I think that you can simply test which foods that contain gluten make you sick and cut them out. There are many gluten free flour, grain and pasta options out there today so you won’t have to look too much for some tasty alternatives. I love rice and garbanzo bean flour and pasta for example, as they are also more nutritious than simple white pasta.
We talked a bit about foods that can make you sick and upset your digestion, now there are also many foods that help us digest better and keep everything moving into the right direction. Fermented foods are great as they contain a lot of probiotics. Go with kimchi (make sure it’s not fish based or contains MSG) and add it to salads or eat it as a side. Miso is great for baking veggies or adding to a stir fry. Kombuca tea is also delicious and super healthy for your belly and it also helps to detoxify your system. Probiotics can definitely be found in many plant foods and their job is to keep your gut healthy so make sure you get enough of them. I think taking supplements can also be a good option for a couple of weeks just if you want to restart but then try to get them from your diet rather than from pills.