The best foods for brilliant bowel health

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Thanks to the incredible efforts of bowel cancer spokeswoman Deborah James, who sadly passed away after fighting the disease, more and more of us are becoming aware of the importance of our bowel health.

While there are lots of factors which can contribute to increasing or lowering the risk of developing the disease, one of the key influences is diet.

So, what should we be eating to maintain a healthy bowel? Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet.

Beans

Beans are rich in a fibre-like starch, helping to maintain the balance of your gut bacteria and keep your bowels functioning properly. Try adding more kidney beans, black eyed peas, and lentils to your diet. Scatter them in salads, stir them through stews or bulk out a bolognaise for an easy way to get more beans into your diet.

Brown Rice

This natural and tasty grain has many different health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The high fibre content in brown rice helps to maintain healthy, regular bowel function and ease common digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhoea. This type of fibre can also keep cancer-causing chemicals away from the lining of the colon, preventing the risk of developing the disease.

Citrus Fruits

While all fruits deliver health benefits, citrus fruits in particular are some of the best foods for promoting bowel health. One large orange has four grams of fibre, while other citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, satsumas, and pomelos contain Naringenin, a natural remedy for constipation and other uncomfortable bowel complaints.

Green Vegetables

We all know it’s important to eat our veggies, and it’s not without good reason. Greens especially are brilliant for bowel health. One cup of cooked spinach is packed with four grams of fibre and magnesium, one of the most important minerals for a healthy bowel.

Try incorporating more kale, spinach, green beans, broccoli and other green veg into your meals to help promote a healthy, regular digestive system.

Lean Meat and Fish

While they might be tasty, fatty red and processed meats such as burgers and bacon are not good for our bowels. These meats are often tough for our bodies to digest, leading to heartburn and bowel problems. They can often move slower through the digestive tract, causing bad bacteria to build up.

It’s a good idea to substitute these foods with leaner meats, fish, and meat substitutes such as Quorn. Try also grilling, rather than frying, your meat and reducing your portions.

Yoghurt

Maintaining a healthy gut involves keeping a balance of good bacteria. One way to aid the digestion process and promote better bowel health is to include probiotic yoghurts in your diet.

Not all yoghurts support the good bacteria in the intestines, so it is a good idea to choose yoghurts with ‘live and active cultures’. Some studies have shown that these probiotic snacks can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Wholemeal Bread

An easy way to increase the fibre in your diet Is to swap out white bread for wholemeal. The fibre-rich grains in wholemeal bread are a better choice for bowel health, encouraging a more regular digestive system.

Whether it’s a slice of seeded toast at breakfast or a wholemeal pitta at lunch, making the switch from white bread is a great way to sneak more beneficial fibre into your diet.

Listen to your gut

Making changes to your diet can often result in a few unwanted side effects at the beginning. Adding more fibre may cause you to pass wind more frequently, or to feel bloated. This should pass as you get used to the new foods you’ve introduced. But if you find that this persists, it could be the case that something you’ve added to your diet doesn’t agree with you.

It’s estimated that around 45% of the UK population has some kind of food intolerance. Often, they go undetected for years, causing mild, but persistent and frustrating problems that stop you from feeling your best.

If you’ve experienced digestive discomfort for a while, and have ruled out anything serious with your GP, it might be time to take a closer look at your diet with food intolerance testing, removing the guesswork and getting you on the road to the right diet for you.

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