IIt’s all too common to go into defense mode only when we start to feel bad, not to say understandable. That being said, there are so many proactive things we can do to support our health goals, day in and day out, before discomfort even arises. The best part? Many of them are *more than* simple.
For example, if you doze on the merits of home-cooked meals, it’s worth going back to the kitchen and whipping up some fresh, nutritious meals, especially if you suffer from digestive issues. If you tend to get bloated or slouch, you can also cook with ingredients that can help keep things going and minimize discomfort. One of the tastiest ways to do just that is to stock your pantry with gut-friendly spices.
Keep reading to see what board-certified gastroenterologist Kenneth Brown, MD recommends to enrich your freshly prepared meals and stave off digestive upset. (Bonus: most of them also promote longevity.)
5 spices a gastro recommends for digestive health
Also known as the golden spice, turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices, thanks in large part to its active ingredient, curcumin. Its benefits are vast and include everything from brain-boosting potential to aiding recovery from anxiety, arthritis, and exercise…but that’s not all. “Some research suggests it may also have benefits for gut health, including reducing inflammation and improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” says Dr. Brown. A 2022 review determined that whether taken alone or in combination with IBS medications, curcumin and turmeric can reduce the severity of symptoms such as abdominal pain.
Tip: For optimal anti-inflammatory powers, be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper. The latter increases the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%.
For optimal anti-inflammatory powers, be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper. The latter increases the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%.
It’s not too surprising that ginger has earned a spot on this list of gastro-approved spices. After all, ginger tea is one of the most common (and effective) home remedies for an upset stomach. “This spice is known for its digestive properties and can help reduce bloating and other digestive discomforts,” says Dr. Brown. “It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory agent.”
As a 2019 review summarized, ginger is also potent enough to help reduce cramps, prevent flatulence, speed gastric emptying, and relieve nausea. Simply put, it’s worth having ginger on hand – stored as a spice in your pantry and even fresh to chop, grate or mince for meals or to steep as a tea – especially if you’re prone to trouble. of stomach.
You don’t know cilantro? These are the dried seeds of the Coriandrum sativum plant (the same source of coriander). “This spice is high in antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Brown. “It may also have digestive benefits, including reducing bloating and improving bowel movements.”
According to a 2022 review, cilantro may also improve flatulence, diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea “by stimulating the liver to increase secretion of bile and other digestive enzymes that intensify the action of the digestive system, shortening thus the passage time of food through the digestive tract.”
Related to cumin, dill and anise, “fennel has a licorice flavor and is often used to aid digestion. This can help reduce bloating and improve overall digestive function,” says Dr. Brown. If you’re battling IBS, you might want to get a dedicated jar of fennel and pair it with turmeric in a salad, soup, chicken dish, or other recipe of your choice: A 2016 randomized controlled trial found that the duo significantly improved symptoms and quality of life in participants with mild to moderate IBS.
This warming spice isn’t just tasty; it is also very healthy considering its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. “It may also have benefits for gut health, and some research suggests it may help reduce bloating and improve digestion,” says Dr. Brown.
Although it’s often included in baked goods – some of which won’t be so kind to your gut due to their high sugar content – you can always add a pinch or two to oats, chia pudding and with sliced apples. Additionally, simmering a cinnamon stick in warm water can also support digestive health.