Soothing Solutions for a Troubled Tummy: These proactive steps can permanently improve one's digestive system, according to Dr. Linda Khoshaba
May 31, 2013 11:36AM
● By Linda Khoshaba, NMD
At some point we may experience one of the following symptoms: reflux, heart burn, gas, bloating, stomach distention, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. We may have tried conventional treatments that work in the short term, ranging from proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, antacids like Tums, laxatives, antispasmotics or antidepressants. But we soon find ourselves right back where we started and our digestive system is out of whack again. We don’t have to keep continuing this vicious cycle, because there are proactive steps to permanently improve the digestive system.
Foods that are high in soluble fiber include rice, oatmeal, barley, soy, applesauce, carrots, beets, avocados, squash and bananas. This fiber attracts water and creates a gel-like consistency in the gut. It helps to slow down digestion and can make us feel full—a bonus for weight loss. In addition, soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, leading to improved insulin secretion.
Power of Peppermint
There is nothing like having a cup of peppermint tea right after a good meal. Peppermint is known for its effect to relieve gas and bloating. Peppermint relaxes the smooth muscles in the digestive tract, promoting a sense of comfort and good digestive breakdown. It is also known for its antispasmotic properties. If there is reflux, just be cautious with excess peppermint intake, because it can have a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter and exacerbate it.
Did you know that okra is known in some places as lady fingers? This plant belongs to the mallow family and is known for its mucilaginous (gooey) consistency. This slippery texture aids in digestion by promoting peristalsis by absorbing water and bulking up stool. In addition, the mucilage action coats and lubricates the digestive tract, providing a protective barrier. The fiber in okra is also beneficial in promoting probiotic activity in the intestines.
Now might be the time to learn a few cool moves that will help intestinal tract function. The triangle pose, or trikonasana in Sanskrit—tri meaning three and kona meaning corner—helps improve digestive aliments. The triangle pose is attained by stretching the abdominal muscles, neck, back and legs. This pose helps to increase bowel activity by promoting movement of food content throughout intestines, alleviating constipation.
Cardamom, Queen of Spices
The king of spices is black pepper, but the queen is cardamom. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used this spice to help with dental disease, bad breath and digestive complaints. The aromatic, ginger-like plant has a pungent and warm taste, is carminative by nature (prevents formation of gas) and is underused in our diet today. It is an excellent remedy for flatulence, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
Dr. Linda Khoshaba received a doctorate from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. Her main areas of focus include women's health, pediatric medicine, diabetes management and prolotherapy. For more information, visit MyIntegrativeHealth.com.