Foods That Aid in Digestion

According to the National Digestive Information Clearinghouse, between 60 million and 70 million people are affected by digestive disorders, which include everything from the occasional upset stomach to more serious conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome and life-threatening colorectal cancer. The digestive tract, which is made up of a series of hollow organs joined together in a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus, helps break down the foods you eat into smaller molecules of nutrients so they can be absorbed into the blood and carried to cells throughout your body, providing your body with the fuel it needs to function.

To maintain good health, it's important to eat a diet that is both high in nutrition and that is easily digested. These types of foods will help you achieve both.

Fermented Foods. Fermented foods are foods preserved using healthy bacteria, also known as probiotics, such as lactobacillus. Most varieties of yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and buttermilk contain some strains of probiotics. Fermented foods provide a natural source of digestive enzymes, which help break down hard-to-digest proteins and carbohydrates.

High-Fiber Foods. Foods high in fiber, such as whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and lentils, aid digestion by adding bulk to your body's waste products. Because fiber makes you feel full faster, including adequate amounts in your diet can also help you lose weight.

Non-Acidic Foods. Foods high in acid, including citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and any foods made from tomatoes such as tomato sauce and tomato juice, can trigger heartburn. Instead, choose fresh, canned (packed in natural juices and not syrup) or frozen fruits and vegetables, including raspberries, watermelon, sweet potatoes and yams.

Ginger. According to a study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, ginger aids in the stimulation of digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach to the upper small intestine. Other spices such as caraway, cumin and fennel when added to foods also aid digestion and reduce the production of gas.

Drinking plenty of water is also essential to keeping your digestive system working properly. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking water during or after a meal improves digestion by helping break down the food in your stomach and keeping your digestive system on track. Maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of physical exercise each day are also crucial to good digestion.