India is a blend of cultures and religions with a lot of festivals and celebrations with varying traditions and rituals. Food or festive feasts are the most essential part of all the celebrations that infuses fun, joy and happiness in all the festivals.
Health enthusiasts, who workout round the year, even go for cheat meals during these happy days. It is all good, till the intake is in restricted amounts. But the aromatic sweets, snacks, and regional delicacies spell magic and we forget the limits. The cost is paid by our digestive system which gets over-loaded with pressure and works extra to digest these high calorie foods.
This year, due to the pandemic, we have an opportunity to eat only homemade foods and enrich it with healthy ingredients to keep our digestive system easy and happy.
Below are some healthy additions to enjoy in our feasts which will also help in easy digestion of special festive high-calorie foods.
Buttermilk - Buttermilk is often advised to people for improving digestion due to its natural probiotic properties. The active culture of buttermilk keeps the stomach calm after having oily and spicy meal. To experience its quick beneficial effects, it is good to have a glass of spiced buttermilk after lunch.
Fresh curd or yogurt - Curd has incredible probiotic property with the presence of good bacteria which improves gut health and simplifies digestion. In Indian cuisine, curd plays a major role in providing special taste and texture to curries. It can also be served directly in the form of sweet curd, salty curd, curd-rice, multiple raitas, and chaach or butter milk, which are fully flavored and help in digesting the foods properly.
Sprouts - Sprouts are the powerhouse of nutrients and can be easily added to your meals in the form of salads, raita, soups, smoothies, sandwich, and so on. They contain essential antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber which help in digestion and detoxification while regulating diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, and the growth of cancer cell. Sprouts can be easily grown at home with many varieties of foods like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, grains, etc. It can be consumed raw but it is suggested to consume slightly cooked sprouts to reduce the effects of bacteria that can be harmful for people with weak digestive system.
Salad - It is very common and always recommended for good digestion and weight loss. But do you know why? Scientifically, it is proven that salad helps the body to digest food easily due to its fiber content which helps in reducing the bad cholesterol and regulates blood sugar levels, digestive issues and reduces the risk of some types of cancer. Salad of vegetables, fruits, and beans are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Salad should be consumed immediately or within half an hour of it being diced.
Vegetables - Add green leafy vegetables into your meal in the form of curry, salad, soup, etc. for healthy digestion. Green leafy vegetables are high in dietary fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help in developing the gut microbiome and preventing digestive problems.
Digestive water - Cumin seeds, carom seeds, fennel seeds with coriander leaves and mint are one of the best home remedies for weak digestive system. In a pan, add 1 glass of water and put 1 teaspoon of cumin or fennel or carom seeds into it. Let the water boil until it reduces to half the quantity. Have this water with honey as tea and enjoy sip by sip for better taste.
Extra tips for your health digestion
Drinking water - Having a glass of water 30-40 minutes before and after any meal helps in digestion. This habit aids in the absorption of nutrients and digestion of foods properly by your body. Don’t drink too much water as it will dilute gastric juice which is important for digesting the foods. Drinking excess water can also interfere with the healthy absorption of food. Having a sip of normal or warm water during meals is good only if needed. Always avoid chilled water before, after, or even in the middle of a meal.
Chewing food properly - Chewing food slowly is the first important step of digestion. This easy act reduces the size of food’s large particles and allows production of digestive enzyme, ‘salivary amylase’ which enhances the ability to metabolize your food properly.
Reduce intake of fatty foods - Fatty foods contract the digestive tract which slows down the food movement increasing the time required to digest the food. Fatty foods increase the risk of obesity, interrupt the digestion, and lead to many digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, vomiting, etc. Try to limit the intake of fatty foods or make a proper food combination with other healthy nutrient-dense foods to digest them easily.
Spices and condiments - Add spices like cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, garlic, fenugreek seeds, coriander, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, carom seeds, asafetida, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, black salt, and vitamin C rich foods into your meals in any form. They will enhance the flavour of your food while improving the digestion.
Some additions to make festive recipes healthier and easily digestible-
- Olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil etc. can be the substitute for vegetable oil while cooking, marinating and dressing.
- Dates, jaggery, honey, coconut sugar, and stevia power are the healthier options to replace harmful regular white sugar for sweets.
- Add fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and carom seeds into your salty snacks. They are good to give relief from abdominal discomfort.
- Adding asafetida is a must in your spicy curries along with pink salt or rock salt for easy digestion.
- Limit caffeinated tea and include herbal tea or digestive water at least 2 times in a day for easy digestion.
Note - Always remember that the portion size of your meal should be balanced. You must avoid overeating and try to choose healthy options to avoid digestive problems. People with cardiac conditions and diabetes should stick to the suggested food restrictions.
Enjoy the festivals in good health!