Foods that Calm…
Nutritionist, chef and personal trainer Will Girling explains how to achieve gut healing by consuming foods and spices that can help calm your stomach in an emergency…
Gluten issues happen when the gut’s ability to digest certain antigens (food) becomes impaired causing intolerance or autoimune diseases like coeliac disease. An inflammatory response occurs as a result and maybe also a few potentially unwanted effects!
Here we discuss ways in which you can manage this to promote ‘gut healing’ by eating certain foods and spices that can help your stomach react in a positive way when under the cosh.
Being unable to digest gluten is due to an enzyme deficiency, which in turn means you’re unable to break down that specific molecule. So, to help aid and repair the stomach it’s good to increase your intake of pre & probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria that help add to your current gut flora and the Prebiotic is a specialized plant fibre that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already found in the gut. One is bringing in lots of necessary, new bacteria and the other is helping cultivate your current bacteria and help it to thrive.
The next question is ‘What foods contain these?’ Here’s a selection that will help repair your stomach lining. Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently, so if you have IBS too you may not be able to enjoy some of these foods.
Sauerkraut: A delicious pickled cabbage dish. Add a scoop on your favourite homemade burger or eat as a side dish. Purchase from the Polish section in local supermarkets.
Fermented Tofu: Improves intestinal flora. Goes well in the Japanese favourite miso soup, which is used
in macrobiotic cooking as a
Pickles: Whether you like them sweet with dill or in brine, pickles are a great way to add some crunch to your summer salad!
Olives: When stored in brine they gain large amounts of probiotics as the brine allows the cultures to thrive. Snack on them or add to a cauliflower pizza for example.
Tempeh:. Delicious meat substitute high in protein, Vitamin B12 and probiotics. Can be served in many ways, although I think sautéed is best! Bought from any Asian supermarket and some international food sections in major stores (ensure it’s not GMO).
Microalgae: Perfect to add to any smoothie or juice for added stomach boosting effects!
Jerusalem artichokes: One of the highest in prebiotics (gram for gram), low in carbohydrates, high in fibre and perfect for improving your gut. Perfect grilled, turned into a tapenade, stuffed or sautéed.
Asparagus: Tasty and packed with fibre, folate and other B vitamins, an ideal addition to any diet. Best had grilled with a tiny bit of butter and alongside some halloumi for a
Dandelion greens: The leaves from the common dandelion weed are easily available and free. I find they’re best enjoyed in a stir-fry or in a simple salad. I also recommend dipping the yellow flowers in a beaten egg, Parmesan cheese and frying them yellow side down! Delicious!
Garlic: Garlic is a rich source of inulin as well as a great antibacterial agent. It packs two punches in one by kicking out the bad guys and feeding the good guys! Garlic is a tasty way to flavour your foods and a great source of Vitamin B6, which aids metabolism and nervous system health.
Leeks: Brilliant for your stomach and so easy to cook! Chop and add to a stir-fry, or if you’re feeling adventurous, sauté with a little butter and some brie to make gorgeous creamy leeks.
Onions: These too are also full of inulin, but are also incredibly cheap and readily available. Red onions make a welcome addition to any salad, but some foolhardy people eat theirs like an apple – it’s also a great way to get more space on the train!
However, sometimes no matter how hard you try the inevitable happens; you go to a party and somehow some gluten has wriggled its way into your mouth and you’re feeling the effects.
If you know which foods and spices will help calm, soothe and caress your stomach, you will soon feel a lot happier and more comfortable inside and out! Think of this as your emergency stomach survival guide!
All these spices and herbs are brilliant for calming your stomach and are easily obtained at your local supermarket or health shop. All of them have been used for thousands of years in Chinese, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Indian herbal medicine to treat inflammation, stomach chills and aid digestion.
To make best use of these spices and herbs, make tea with them with as fresh ingredients as you can find. The above are more easily acquired, but I think it is also worth considering ‘demulcent herbs’, which are agents that help soothe the stomach and relieve minor pain and inflammation.
Considered the principal of all drugs in ancient China, this root has many health benefits but here it’s perfect for soothing the digestive tract and stomach. Have as a tea when in need, either from tea bags or fresh root.
This natural ingredient has been used to treat Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS, stomach ulcers, asthma and indigestion. Chop it up and put it in a jar with water. Replace the lid and leave overnight to create a drink with beneficial properties (not normally given to people with diabetes, or women who are pregnant/breast feeding due to it slowing digestion).
Over a period of time your stomach will get stronger so you can feel more confident about going out to eat, knowing that there is something you can do to feel great again.
In Chinese medicine they believe that gluten intolerance is caused by a deficiency of ‘Qi’ in the spleen-pancreas. They recommend lots of vegetables high in pro/prebiotics and spices that warm the stomach and have your ‘digestive fire’ roaring.
Will Girling is a nutritionist, chef and personal trainer who talks about all things food and health on his site www.primawill.com