The Everyday ‘Superfoods’ for Digestive Health

What makes a ‘superfood’ quite so super? Spruiked for their nutrient density and role in promoting health and preventing disease, the term ‘superfood’ has been used to describe foods such as blueberries, salmon, kale and acai (pronounced ah-sigh-hee).

So, where did the term come from? You may be surprised to know that there is no formal definition in nutrition science of a ‘superfood’. The term was actually created as a marketing platform to promote consumption of a particular type of food (or food product) for the proposed health benefits.

Since there is no set criterion for superfoods, we wanted to give praise to some everyday superfoods that are ‘super’ good for your digestive health.

1. Legumes

Legumes (include all forms of beans and peas) are packed full of soluble and insoluble fibre. This helps encourage the passage of food through the digestive system, add bulk and softness to stools and promote regular bowel motions.

A serve of baked beans (½ cup) serves up about 7 g of fibre, which is nearly a third of your recommended fibre intake for the day! Beans are also a great low fat food and a source of protein (perfect for vegetarians and vegans!).

2. Whole grains

The term whole grain is used to describe an intact grain, flour or a food that contains all three parts of the grain (meaning none of the goodness is lost!). Some types of whole grains include: wheat, oats, rice, barley, corn, triticale, millet, spelt and kamut.

Whole grains are a great source of fibre in the diet, contributing on average two thirds more fibre than refined grains. Grain foods also contribute other important nutrients including iron, magnesium, iodine, carbohydrates and B-group vitamins including folate and thiamine.

3. Fresh Fruit & Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are another valuable source of fibre in the diet. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid.

4. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are made using live micro-organisms that convert carbohydrates into acids, gases or alcohol. Lactic acid fermentation is used in the production of many different foods and provides a sour taste to foods, helps with preservation and is known for it’s health giving properties. Lactic acid bacteria create an environment conducive to the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.

5. Water

While not quite a food, water is essential to the maintenance of a healthy digestive system. It transports nutrients around the body, facilitates the passage of food through the body and helps soften stools.

Meg Sadler-Keary
Yakult Dietitian APD