A whole-food plant based diet is one of the best ways to improve digestion due to its high fiber content. However, it does not always do the trick. If you’re suffering from bad digestion, constipation, bloating and the like, simply being vegan may not be enough. There are some specific tweaks that will really help you majorly improve your digestion, even if you’re already vegan.
When I first went vegan, I was already dealing with some pretty severe digestive issues. I took every supplement under the sun to try to improve them. But nothing really worked.
I moved, I ate peppermint (+peppermint essential oil), I took natural laxatives, I fasted, I juiced – you name it, I did it.
In fact, my constipation only got worse. I often felt as if I was having a heart attack as a result of it!
It was extremely frustrating. When I was constipated, my self-worth often went down. My mood immediately plummeted significantly, and I just wanted to lay in bed and not function.
Are you familiar with those moments when you feel like there is a heavy block of stuff stuck inside you, and nothing can move it out except some crazy laxative pill?
I have gone through over 4 years of pain and discomfort to get to a point when finally, I was able to improve my digestion on a vegan diet! And I want to share my most important, scientifically-backed lessons from this experience.
Improve your Digestion on a Vegan Diet While Eating Delicious Food
The tips I am about to share are part of The Effortlessly Flavorful Vegan Kitchen, my brand new online course that will help you improve your digestion through an insanely delicious, easy, and unprocessed plant-based vegan diet. The course will help you put these digestion-improving tips into practice, and will provide even more tested information on how to kick-start better digestion.
5 Things You Can Start Doing Right Now to Improve Your Digestion
Let’s dive into the 5 things you may not be doing to improve your digestion – and you can start doing these right now! Just keep in mind that these are all food related items. In my course, I will be teaching you all of the strategies I have used to improve my own digestion, including aspects that go way beyond food.
And another important thing to keep in mind: don’t look for specific supplements to save you or heal you immediately. Healing your digestion TAKES TIME and there is no magic pill! It’s a process that will happen by eating more and more plant foods, and watching your general dietary patterns rather than focusing on specific foods to eat and not eat.
There is no single magic pill. It’s about the combined impact of your daily choices – this is how you will improve your digestion!
Improve Digestion: Eat More Greens
Dark leafy greens are incredible for digestion because they lower inflammation. They provide fiber, amazing nutrients, and are super easy to digest. Even if you are eating a heavy meal, make sure to always include greens on the side.
In addition, greens and other fibrous fruits and vegetables are pre-biotics for the good gut bacteria in your gut. It is what feeds the good bacteria, and the good bacteria determines our digestion. So definitely eat your greens, and get enough fiber through plant foods to keep that healthy bacteria working.
The easiest way to incorporate more greens into your diet is to start your day with a green smoothie. Incorporate greens into any of these heavenly smoothies. My favorites are lettuce, spinach, kale, mixed baby greens, and cilantro. 2 handfuls per smoothie is a great amount.
Improve Digestion: Eat Unprocessed Plant Foods Most of the Time
Imagine yourself in a beautiful garden, half dressed (you are currently a prehistoric woman), picking delicious fruit off the tree or bush. This is what we did for thousands of years. And this is what we digest best today as well.
In order to have regular bowel movements and to improve your digestion, you gotta eat like our ancestors did. Our gut is used to eating simple, unprocessed plant foods. Try to eat as close as you can to the original: fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and small amounts of nuts, seeds, avocadoes, coconuts and olives in their whole form.
Stay as far as you can from packaged foods, and if you do buy a package, make sure all of the ingredients on there make sense to you – no funky stuff with weird names!
And if your digestion is in extremely bad shape, make sure to start eating very simple foods. For example, make sure that there are no more than 5 ingredients in every meal you eat, and eat a high-fruit diet – which is easy to digest for most people.
Improve Digestion: Avoid Oils
Speaking of processed foods – oils are in this category. The ABSOLUTE KEY to how I healed my digestive issues was to stop consuming oils!
Because oils go through a process to be made from nut/seed/fruit into pure fat, not only do they lose a ton of nutrients on the way, but they can also easily be oxidized.
Omega 6’s are plentiful in plant oils like olive, coconut, canola, sesame, and many more. Consuming mostly omega 6’s, as opposed to omega 3’s, leads to inflammation. And inflammation is a major cause of digestive issues and other serious diseases.
When you stop eating oil, your digestion can improve, that terrible heavy feeling after meals can drift away, and you can even lose weight.
I know it can be intimidating to remove oil from your diet, especially if you’re used to cooking with it and adding it to salads. I know because it took me forever to do it myself, in a way that I actually enjoyed!
This whole struggle is exactly why I created my brand new course. Un this course, I make this move easy, fun, fast, and most importantly – PACKED WITH FLAVOR.
The #1 way to give up oil is to learn to blend up flavorful sauces, dips, and dressings without using oils. Having these on hand will make any main vegetable meal sing. The unique aspect of my brand new online course is that you will not only get 50+ sauce, dips, and dressing recipes. You will also get 3 weeks of main meals using those recipes. AND I will teach you an easy step-by-step method for creating your own sauce, dressings, and dips without having to constantly learn more new recipes!
Ok, now let’s get back to learning out digestion-improving strategies.
Improve Digestion: Consume Raw, Rather Than Roasted Nuts and Seeds
Oils and fats are two different things. Oils are 100% fat, while fats like avocado, coconut, olives, nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients, as well as carbohydrates, proteins, and of course fats, in varying amounts. As such, oil is a processed food. It is an extraction of a perfect package, as it is found in nature.
I highly recommend including modest amounts of healthy plant-based fats in your diet. Unroasted fats are best for optimal digestion.
Roasting nuts can damage their fats and make them more prone to oxidation. Oxidized nuts can be rancid, and taste strange. And rancid nuts are inflammatory and even carcinogenic. And as already mentioned, inflammation often leads to weight gain and digestive issues.
Raw and unroasted nuts and seeds from a trusted source are best for digestion. One great way to make sure they are fresh is to get them from a local farmer, in their shell. Alternatively, buy organic, packaged nuts. Nuts that are in the bulk bins at your local health food store tend to go rancid quickly due to their exposure to air. Chopped or ground nuts and seeds also go rancid quickly, so make sure to chop them only when you are about to use them, and store them in the fridge or freezer.
Improve Digestion: Soak + Sprout
The last way to improve digestion on a plant-based diet is by soaking and sprouting.
In my course, I will teach you exactly how to soak and sprout nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. I will also provide a printable chart with soaking and sprouting times and instructions.
I have already written about the benefits of soaking and sprouting to increase nutrient absorption of protein. Soaking and sprouting are also extremely beneficial for better digestion. Soaking and sprouting release phytic acid, which can be hard to digest. It decreases cooking time and digestion time for some harder to digest foods, like nuts, seeds, and beans. These are foods that are hard to digest for many people. But nonetheless, you should still include them in your diet due to their incredible health benefits.
Those are all of the food-related tips I have for you. Just remember, improving digestion is a process that happens over time. It is not magic. It takes a bit of work, but it is so worth it! The results are ever-lasting if you just continue to establish a healthy pattern as I have described.
Here’s to healing all of our digestions!