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Totally Normal Foods That Help Digestion, Maintain Gut Health and Reduce Food Cravings

Normal foods that help digestion and maintain gut health

Nobody wants to think about heartburn, stomach pain or bloating after eating but #lifehappens and when it does, we want to get better fast and naturally, just like we help our kids get over a stomach bug or diarrhea with whole foods.

We try our best, don’t we, moms?

We want to eat the perfect diet. We want our kids’ guts to be all balanced and happy and perfect.

But life doesn’t always feel balanced.

We certainly aren’t perfect for so many reasons.

And sometimes our busy days get the better of us!

RELATED: Healing Your Gut

I’m so excited to share the ideas in this post for EASY home remedies for heartburn, bloating and indigestion with you, because they’ll help busy families stay healthy without going crazy for two reasons:

  1. They’re easy to find and probably already in your house – no searching for weird “superfoods” and supplements you can’t afford anyway.
  2. Some of them work after the fact, when you’ve already eaten something your body isn’t loving. Everyone needs an “oops” card sometimes!

5 Foods and Techniques to Improve General Digestion

When we eat food, we want our tongues to love it and expect our bodies to use all the vitamins, minerals, and macro-nutrients contained inside, right?

No one wants to waste…so let’s help optimize digestion with just a few little things:

1. Parsley to Reduce Cravings

chew on parsley after a meal to assist digestion

Ever wonder why there’s that little green leaf on the plate at a restaurant?

It’s not just to add a little green and look pretty, or to make you feel like you have something healthy on your plate of fried food. Winking smile

Parsley is actually amazing for the kidneys and acts as a palate cleanser if you chew some after a meal, thus reducing cravings that might lead you and your gut to places you don’t want to go together.

How to use it:

2. Ginger for Digestion

Ginger my attempt

Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it’s great to include in meals as much as possible. Fresh or dried is fine!

You don’t have to be afraid of wasting fresh ginger if you do buy some though – it’s super easy to freeze ginger and can be used frozen.

How to use it:

And if you want to incorporate ginger regularly and intentionally AND pack the greatest anti-inflammatory punch for your digestion, try

Ginger-Turmeric Lemonade

Ginger Turmeric Lemonade or Tea

Call it lemonade and drink it on ice or call it tea and drink it warm – either way, this combo has 3 powerful (and mostly normal) foods to support good digestion – and it tastes pretty good!

Here’s the recipe from Christa at the Whole Journey, founder of the Gut Thrive in 5 program my husband and I are doing (and where most of these ideas came from).

You can use fresh or powdered ginger and turmeric, which makes it super easy to make any time. I got a huge bag of turmeric from Mountain Rose Herbs when there was some sort of sale, but I trust Frontier (found on Amazon) as a very good brand too. Price check on Amazon for ginger and turmeric.

I’ve only made it with fresh ginger and turmeric because I bought some not realizing I could use powdered – but I’m not sure how well I’d be able to filter out the powder so for now, I’m sticking with fresh.

I’ve made some adaptations to make the process easier and faster though, you know me:

  • You don’t have to peel the ginger or turmeric roots.
  • Wash and freeze both ginger and turmeric right when you buy it. Just crack off the # of inches you need (3″ for turmeric, 4″ for ginger) and roughly chop. Even frozen is easy for a big chef’s knife.
  • Boil for 10 minutes, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Done!
  • You can add sweetener if you need to; steeping with some green stevia would be best to avoid empty sugars.

We usually make about 12 cups and keep it in the fridge for a few days. It’s the color of Mountain Dew which just looks CRAZY in this house without food coloring! Turmeric is strong stuff.

Ginger-turmeric lemonade is an alternative to the stronger, more savory CCF tea recommended by the Gut Thrive program (instructions buried in this post), or use chamomile tea.

3. Eat Your Greens to Pack a Nutritional Punch

A white bowl of salad greens on a wooden plank table

Christa Orecchio, the clinical nutritionist behind Gut Thrive in 5, the program my husband and I are working through and where most of this info came from, says that, “when you nourish yourself with greens, they naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick.”

Greens have tons of vitamins and minerals, promote healthy intestinal flora, and can improve liver, gall bladder and kidney function. Pump up your meals and snacks with greens 2-4 times a day to set yourself up long-term for great gut and overall health!

The best scrambled eggs ever on a white plate garnished with cherry tomatoes and greens

How to use them:

Dark leafy greens also supply magnesium, which we learned was super important for Vitamin D absorption! Magnesium also is needed for bowel movement, good digestion, muscle function, bone health, relaxation and more.

If you’re not getting four servings of greens per day (that’s 4 cups raw or 2 cups cooked), it might be worth adding some greens powder to your smoothies, soups or dressings. We figure we probably still need magnesium supplementation, so we use a spray on our skin and bath flakes like this.

Both of those products are from Perfect Supplements – be sure to use the coupon KS10 for 10% off any order!

4. Lemon Water to Start the Morning off Right for Your Gut

lemon water with cayenne in the morning

I’d heard on and off over the years to drink lemon water, but I never really understood what it did, so I didn’t keep up well.

I’m learning more and more, about how the acid in the lemon actually helps your body pull acid out and process it better (totally don’t understand that yet, so don’t ask – but I’m working on it!), and that people have incredible effects just from this one simple habit.

How to Make Lemon Water

Before eating or drinking anything else, break your “fast” of sleep in the morning with 12-16 ounces of room temperature water with the juice of HALF a lemon in it.

You can add grated ginger and warmer water (helpful for constipation) or a dash or two or three of cayenne – both also support good digestion – but if you want to just keep it simple, drink  half a lemon in your first glass of water of the day.

Then brush your teeth! The acid isn’t great for enamel.

Our KS team member, Robyn, has been drinking a morning glass of lemon water for five years. (That’s her picture above.)

Here are Robyn’s thoughts on lemon water:

It is how I break my “fast.”

I used to have terrible constipation issues and those are completely gone.

My skin was TERRIBLE and it cleared up. If I miss a few days the acne returns, so I know it’s the lemon water.

My energy in the morning has improved and I’m actually hungry in the morning. Even as a child I never wanted breakfast but over ate at night. Now I’m hungry first thing after my lemon water.

I take room temp water add half a lemon and then top it off with hot water…so it’s warm but not boiling. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t add the lemon to hot water directly… [probably because it would kill the enzymes in the lemon juice]

When I was pregnant I never had water retention issues at all and I swear it was the lemon water… I also swear by my lemon water when I travel. I’ve traveled overseas a ton and when I feel puffy from the long flights the lemon water always flushes me out.

5. Peppermint Tea

Mint growing in the garden

Like ginger, peppermint is another basic food that calms the stomach, improves digestion and can be used regularly. Peppermint tea is easy to find and enjoyable.

And you can grow mint easily, even if you have a brown thumb like me! Peppermint essential oil also can be good to inhale if your stomach is feeling a little upset.

Both peppermint and ginger can help before OR after a meal (or during), even if your stomach is already a little off from eating something that didn’t agree with you. Here are some more “after eating” home remedies to make your gut feel better:

4 Foods & Tips to Help with Heartburn, Stomach Pain and Bloating After a Meal

apple cider vinegar (4) Watermarked

1. Apple Cider Vinegar when You Ate the Wrong Foods

Try 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar in 4 ounces of water to reduce intestinal discomfort.

A cup of ginger tea with lemon slices

2. Ginger Tea to Ease Digestion Before or After Meals

After a meal (or before too), ginger tea can help calm the stomach. You could also try ginger gum.

baking soda (18) Watermarked

3. Baking Soda to Calm Heartburn

Just a pinch of baking soda in 4-6 ounces warm water can neutralize acid causing heartburn – a simple home remedy in an instant!

4. Fennel Seeds for Bloating After a Meal

Get some whole fennel seeds, which are easily found at many markets and on Amazon – I have gotten them at Penzey’s Spices, Fresh Thyme Market and our local health food store. You might have some already if, like me, you make homemade sausage spices with ground meat!

Put some in a little bowl or baggie on your desk, table, or wherever you might be most often after a meal. I used this cute little ice cream dish, but a shot glass or teacup would work great too, or a baggie in the drawer:

whole fennel seeds to reduce bloating (2) Watermarked

After meals, chew on a few seeds.

Yep, whole.

They can improve your digestion, reduce bloating, and I’ve noticed that they act as a great palate cleanser, which can reduce cravings. You know that feeling right after you’ve finished eating that makes you say, “My mouth wants more but I’m full!”

Chewing fennel has a bit of an anise (licorice) flavor and acts like brushing your teeth – you no longer want to feed your tongue more food.

For people like me who always need something sweet after every meal like a ravaging animal, it’s a cool trick for a fraction of a penny per day!

There’s plenty you can do with fennel seeds beyond chewing them after meals:

  • make homemade ground sausage
  • grind them to make powdered fennel for recipes (my Blendtec will do it, a mortar and pestle, or coffee grinder dedicated to spices – watch secondhand!)
  • make CCF tea (instructions buried in this post)

Bonus: Prebiotic Foods & Resistant Starch

Maybe you already take great probiotics.

But did you know you also need to FEED your 3 trillion good bacteria to keep them happy?? (And I thought I didn’t want a pet because 4 kids were enough to feed!)

I’m reading Heather Dessinger’s Resistant Starch 101 and it’s fascinating stuff. Basically, our bacteria feed on polysaccharides, and as research comes out, resistant starch is emerging as one of the best options.

Some examples of resistant starch in NORMAL foods:

And an important word of caution:

Resistant starch isn’t appropriate for all gut issues – it can lead to further problems if you’re trying to heal from certain conditions. You can get more information on resistant starch here, and this is a good list of other prebiotic foods.

Lemons on a white dishcloth. Simple foods you have at home that promote digestion and gut health.

I hope you can incorporate some of these simple ideas to help you avoid or combat bloating, indigestion and heartburn!

Of course, if all those are symptoms you’re regularly experiencing, they may be a sign of a digestive issue that deserves your attention. One thing I loved about Gut Thrive in 5 is that participants are split up into 4 groups depending on their healing needs, so your diet and protocols match what’s really going on in your gut.

HERE’S THE PROGRAM TO LOOK INTO! (so maybe you can stop hurting so often) My husband and I have gone through the program and you can read more about the pathogen purge portion of it here.

Do you have any favorite foods or techniques that help keep your digestion at its best?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

6 thoughts on “Totally Normal Foods That Help Digestion, Maintain Gut Health and Reduce Food Cravings”

  1. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    Mint is indeed easy to grow! We were given 3 sprigs to put in water until they grew roots and then plant in our yard, 5 years ago. Last year THE ENTIRE FRONT YARD was mint with just a few other plants here and there! I sheet-mulched over it in the fall, but my mom says it will come up anyway…we’ll see. I want to have mint; I just want to have other plants, too!

  2. I would caution people about taking baking soda. Most people who have heartburn actually have LOW stomach acid! Antiacids are counter productive for the vast majority of people. Supplementing with HCL (stomach acid) is much more effective for most.

    1. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

      If you have heartburn REGULARLY, this may be the case, and you should consult a doctor. Also, baking soda is not safe for people with serious heart conditions because it is very high in sodium and can cause a spike in blood pressure that’s no problem for a healthy person but difficult for a bad heart.

      When it’s a sudden increase in stomach acid triggered by a certain meal, though, and happening just once in a while, baking soda is VERY helpful. For me it works much better than Tums. I usually get a burning sensation in my stomach rather than heartburn in my chest.

  3. Our family of 7 did this program (we were in their 1st group) and we did experience improvement. Life happened, old habits (eating wheat or some other forbidden food) crept in and we ended up either back where we began and a few, worse off. Lots of money went into that program.

    If someone can’t stick to the guidelines, perhaps a different routine would be better. I hope this is a game-changer for you and your family, though.

    1. Ahhhh! That scares me a little bit 🙁

      I really don’t want to give up everything forever. I’m so sad to hear that some in your fam got worse. 🙁 So sorry to hear! I have yet to learn what the 80/20 guidelines are. But thanks for the well wishes…I’m hoping so too!

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