Sometimes digestion gets a little funny, whatever your diet. This may be due to over-eating rich and oily foods, eating processed foods your body can’t assimilate properly, or bad food combining.
The good news for vegans is because of the high fiber content of the vegan diet, your bowels will be quite regular. As in 3-5 times a day regular! A doctor once told me he only recommends enemas for his meat-eating patients, because the vegan diet acts as a brush for the intestines.
Still, we all run into digestive issues on occasion. Here are some tried-and-true methods to improve your digestion:
First and most importantly, become aware of what you’re actually eating. Keep a daily food diary to help show you when and what you’re eating.
2. You can maximize digestion by studying up on food combining (i.e. eat fruit alone, and after a meal, etc.)
3. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your beans after cooking to help them digest better.
4. Chew your food. This practice actually has a name – Fletcherism, named for a Dr. Fletcher who advocated chewing each bite 32 times.
5. Drink peppermint tea after meals.
6. Make apple cider vinegar drinks (1 teaspoon AVC + squeeze of lemon, dashes of cinnamon and cayenne and liquid stevia + 2 cups water)
7. Use probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kim chee.
8. If you’re feeling bloating or off your digestive game, try eating simply for 2-3 days to reset (i.e. – a.m. smoothie, lunch salad, and soup for dinner.
9. If you’re constantly bloated, not just occasionally, after big meal or beans, and you eat a lot of sugar, candida may be your culprit. Adding a bit of diatomaceous earth to my morning smoothies helpful for candida.
10. Take a walk. Walking aids digestion.
11. Skip processed meat alternatives. Think of them more as an occasional fun treat, but not as daily fare. Your daily diet should consist of whole foods. Protein is best assimilated from soaked nuts, nut butters, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and oats.
12. Try a probiotic pill. There are several vegan options on the market. I prefer a food-based approach, but if you want to reset your intestinal flora, (especially important after taking antibiotics), probiotics could help.
13. Soak your nuts. Soaking releases enzymes and helps your body digest nuts. Most nuts need 6+ hours. Soft nuts like cashews and pecans can be soaked in 2. I just cover them with water and toss them in the fridge overnight. Drain, and keep on hand over then next couple days for smoothies, salads, or to process into spreads.
14. Soak your beans and add kombu seaweed. If you use dried beans, I’d suggest trying out soaking them for longer (like 24 hours, changing the water a few times). Not sure if it will make a difference or not but probably worth trying; some people swear by it. Look for canned beans with added kombu.
15. Chew fennel seeds after meals – an ancient Indian practice.
16. Keep charcoal-based gas and bloating pills on hand for after eating big holiday meals or indulgencing in processed foods .
17. Try papaya-enzyme pills, usually taken before meals to aid the digestive process.
See what works best for you. Develop a knowledge of your body by tuning in during and after meal time. Over time, you’ll gain awareness of what works and what doesn’t for your body.