5 Spices You Can Add to Any Dish to Help With Digestion, According to Gut Experts
Tea—particularly ginger tea—is a great way to beat bloating. But as it turns out, it's not the only solution. You can also work digestive-supporting spices right into your meal to help prevent feeling bloated in the first place. Here, three gut health experts—two MDs and one dietitian—give their top recommendationss for which spices to integrate into your meals to keep digestion running smoothly.
Not surprisingly, all three gut experts suggested this digestion-supporting all star. "Ginger can be used to reduce gas and bloating. It has phenolic compounds which are known to relieve irritation in the GI tract," explains Katherine McNamara, CND, a clinical dietitian at Westchester Medical Center. She suggests using it in food is to peel the skin to add to stir fries or dressings. Jacqueline Wolf, MD, a gastroenterologist in Boston, adds that incorporating ginger into meals may help prevent pregnancy-related nausea.
For gastroenterologist Lea Ann Chen, MD, mint landed on the top of the list of cooking spices that beat bloat and support digestion. She highlights a scientific study linking peppermint oil to reducing GI upset and nausea. Dr. Wolf seconded Dr. Chen's pick, saying that mint decreases the spasms in the gut. But using this herb comes with one caveat: reflux can be one of its side effects, so if you get heartburn on the reg, use another one of the suggestions on this list.
"Asafoetida is an herb that tastes like garlic and onions," says Dr. Wolf, listing another one of her fave gut-supporting herbs. If you're following a low-FODMAP eating plan, she says it can be used in place of the aforementioned garlic and onions, both of which are high FODMAP foods. "Asafoetida doesn't cause the gas and bloating like they can," she says.
McNamara is a big fan of incorporating cinnamon into foods—especially baked goods—because it keeps blood sugar levels steady while also supporting good digestion. "It can also sweeten up your food in place of sugar," she says. (PSA: sugar isn't great for digestion because it feeds the bad bacteria.)
What healthy list doesn't turmeric top? "Turmeric contains curcumin, which is known to relieve excess gas, abdominal pain and, bloating," McNamara says of the all-star anti-inflammatory spice. She loves blending turmeric into smoothies, curries, or stirred into salad dressings. And no, she didn't mention tea.
Sometimes bloating isn't food-related. And BTW, this is the difference between inflammation and bloating.
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