9 Natural Gastrointestinal Medicinal Foods

A cabbage head.

Vitamin U, which is found in cabbage, Napa (Chinese cabbage), and broccoli, have been located to protect the mucous membranes. (Image: via Pixabay)

Our stomach is the first port of call for any food consumed by the human body. Therefore, food choice is essential to nourish the stomach and avoid developing gastric acid reflux. 

Hideaki Shimada, Chair of Digestive Surgery at the Research Institute of Toho University in Japan and Director of the Cancer Center of Omori Hospital. He recommends nine kinds of stomach-protecting foods likened to natural gastrointestinal medicines.

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9 gastrointestinal foods

1. Vitamin U

Vitamin U, which is found in cabbage, Napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage), and broccoli, protects the mucous membranes. This vitamin has been discovered to have antioxidant effects and can treat ulcers. Any inflamed areas of the mucous membranes can be repaired by eating the above foods in the morning, either in their natural state or by blending or juicing. 

2. Pectin

Pectin, found in apples, protects the stomach lining effectively. In addition to pectin, apples also contain polyphenols. Polyphenols possess antioxidant properties and can also inhibit gastric acid secretion.

3. Carotene

Β-carotene is the precursor of vitamin A. Both vitamin A and β carotene are lipid-soluble compounds. Many foods contain an in-built, ready-to-use form of Vitamin A. The vitamin A in the Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Spinach), carrots, and pumpkins can be used to make cell membranes. It also has antioxidant properties and inhibits cell inflammation.

Fresh carrots laying in a bunch on a rustic-looking wooden surface.
The vitamin A in the Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Spinach), carrots, and pumpkins can be used to make cell membranes. It also has antioxidant properties and inhibits cell inflammation.(Image: Kondratova via Dreamstime)

4. Zinc

Zinc is essential for digesting protein and helps speed up the body’s healing. Crab and beef (fat-free parts) are rich in zinc. These can be prepared and cooked for ease of digestion using steaming, stewing, mincing, or ground form.

5. Starches

Foods that contain high starch will become sticky when cooked in water, such as porridge made from rice. Potatoes stewed or boiled and then mashed are beneficial for protecting mucous membranes.

6. Poultry and fish

Eating chicken portions low in fat is recommended to prevent any irritation to the body. As for fish, eat white-fleshed fish such as cod or haddock with high omega-3 content. The healthiest way to cook fish is by stewing or steaming.

White-fleshed fish such as cod or haddock with high omega-3 content is good gastrointestinal food.
As for fish, eat white-fleshed fish such as cod or haddock with high omega-3 content. The healthiest way to cook fish is by stewing or steaming. (Image: Iuliia Nedrygailova via Dreamstime)

7. Other low-fat proteins

Among soy products, tofu is easily digested and doesn’t irritate the stomach. You can stew tofu, make a cold tofu puree, and add it to soups. Eggs are another excellent source of low-fat protein. Half-boiled eggs are digested faster.

8. Non-irritating fat

We must pay more attention to the fats and oils used in cooking. Olive oil is seen as possessing a low-fat irritant quality. It is also advised to consume a small or moderate amount of emulsified fats, such as cream, fresh cream, and mayonnaise, in one’s diet.

9. Spices and herbs

Aromatic spices and herbs should be avoided to protect the gastric mucosa. Some beneficial spices and herbs include curry, cinnamon, anise, cloves, and thyme. These are often used as gastrointestinal medicines. Sansho (a Japanese seasoning made of ground prickly ash berries) is very helpful for overcoming hiccups and easing a burning sensation in the chest.

Are dried salted prunes good food or bad food?

People with gastroesophageal reflux should avoid eating foods that increase stomach acid. However, some foods with a strong acidic taste are recommended to eat since they are converted into alkaline foods after entering the body.

For example, dried salty plums or prunes often prove to be a remedy more effective than laxatives. In a study by the National Institutes of Health, people who consumed 2 ounces (50 grams) of prunes every day for three weeks reported better stool consistency and frequency compared to a group that consumed psyllium (a type of fiber often used for constipation relief)

Still, you must pay attention to the problem of excessive salt intake as a prune with a salt content of 13 percent (about 15 grams after de-seeding) contains 2 grams of salt.

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