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Stock up your fridge for digestive health

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There’s nothing like a fully stocked fridge of fresh, healthy ingredients. Find out how to do your digestion a favour next time you shop for a fridge full of goodies. By naturopath Kathryn Terrill.

Simple, fresh food is not only good for digestive health, but it also tastes good, too. With a little forethought, it’s easy to make sure you have what you need on hand to prepare digestion friendly meals.

1. Fresh vegies

Fresh vegetables are an absolute staple in the world of the healthy diet. They are bursting with nutritional goodness and offer nothing but benefit for digestive health.

They are filled with fibre and contain plenty of fluid for hydration, and the fresher the vegetable, the better it is for you.

Ideally, vegetables should be kept in the crisper compartment of the fridge and used within a week of purchase. Keep your eye out for a local farmer’s market as this is where you are likely to find the freshest and in season varieties. Buying organic where possible is also ideal.

Bitter tasting vegetables such as rocket, turnip, endive, radicchio lettuce, chicory, dandelion leaves and silverbeet are digestive stimulants. When our tongue tastes the bitter taste, it causes our digestive juices to increase and this improves our body's ability to digest our food.

2. Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil can be purchased at most health food stores and many pharmacies, and it’s great to keep in the fridge for use in salad dressings. It can also be added to smoothies, or blended with butter (if you can’t live without it) to improve the consistency and add in some healthy oil. Use your butter and flaxseed oil blend sparingly.

Flaxseed oil is high in the omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which may have anti-inflammatory effects. Flaxseed oil may also help keep you regular, as it has been traditionally used to treat constipation.

3. Yoghurt

Good quality yoghurt is great to have on hand to add to muesli or smoothies in the morning, or to have as a snack throughout the day or after dinner. Plain and low fat is the best. Watch out for hidden sugar or additives.

The probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’ in good quality yoghurt will have your digestive system thanking you. These friendly little bugs can reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system.

4. Prunes

Prunes (or dried plums) have a reputation for aiding constipation and assisting with regular bowel movements. They have a mild bowel stimulating effect, and, being a fruit, are also high in fibre. Soaking them overnight makes them softer, and they are a great addition to muesli and yoghurt in the morning. Prunes have the benefit of being a safe and non-habit forming option for constipation.

5. Fresh fruits

Seasonal fresh fruit is a great snack to have on hand. Fruit offers the benefit of high fibre and fluid content to help keep you regular, as well as many other nutritional benefits.

One particular family of fruit that tends to stand out in the crowd for their health benefits are berries. Berries are delicious, and are conveniently available in frozen form in most grocery stores when out of season.

Blueberries have been traditionally used by the North American Indians to treat diarrhoea, and are an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They make a great breakfast food and taste fabulous added to smoothies, muesli and yoghurt.

References available upon request