Tummy trouble plagues us all from time to time, and in our house, with two teens and a 6-year-old, we have experienced our share of heartburn, gas, digestive cramping, bloating and other digestive issues as well as stomach bugs and flus. An upset gastrointestinal tract can have a negative impact on our mental health, our energy levels and our overall quality of life, so keeping the tummy happy helps keep us healthy.
An estimated 60 to 70 million people are affected by some sort of digestive disorder, and the chronic conditions spur about $141.8 billion in spending on various prescriptions and remedies, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
Like so many other people, we’ve made many late-night trips to the grocery store for antacids and over the years have spent a lot of money on various over-the-counter remedies like acid blockers or other products to treat some of the common problems associated with some of the minor digestive problems such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn.
But then we learned that some home remedies from kitchen work just as well as the store bought remedies, and some actually improve digestion, making over-the-counter antacids unnecessary. Readers who are currently taking any medications should check with their medical care providers before consuming home remedies to ensure that there are no potentially harmful complications between home remedies and their medication.
Ginger: Ginger’s ability to sooth troubled tummies is legendary. But not all ginger products are created equal. While ginger ale is commonly consumed when people feel sick, most commercial brands do not actually have any ginger in them at all and those that do have ginger, have only trace amounts. Ginger tablets are available and are commonly used on cruise ships to settle motion sickness. Also ginger candy, ginger gum and ginger are fairly easy to find. But none works as well as using fresh ginger. To keep the tummies in our house happy, we make a fresh juice every morning with ginger, carrots and orange. The fresh juice provides us with vital nutrients and the ginger does wonders for the intestinal track. To make the juice, combine about five carrots, one large orange and about an inch of fresh, peeled ginger root in juicer. Ginger tea is also easy to make from home – just add a bit of peeled ginger to your tea as it seeps.
Saffron. Yes, saffron can be expensive, but a little bit does go a long way. And in reality, buying antacids several times a month can also be expensive. As well as being used to add a glorious yellow hue to food, saffron has been used as a digestive aid for centuries and can be added to tea. Researchers believe that saffron stimulates circulation to the digestive organs and coats the membranes of the stomach and colon, according to the website, Herbalist.com.
Coconut water. Coconut water is beginning to grow in popularity and is now easily available in most grocery stores. Over the years it has been touted as a weight loss aid, cure for acne as well as a hangover remedy. High in potassium, electrolytes and iron, coconut water is also low in calories. Be sure to look for a brand with no added sugar. In our house, whenever someone has a stomach bug and is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, we have them drink pure coconut water – it helps to rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes.
Mineral water. Natural mineral water is another great digestive aid as it includes bicarbonates, the main ingredient in over-the-counter heartburn remedies. Drinking it each day can help keep the digestive system balanced and happy. There are many different types of mineral water on the market and the prices vary. Look for one that is natural rather than one where the bicarbonates are simply added to flat water. Mineral water can be consumed by itself or is great mixed with juice or even tea. Try mixing equal parts mineral water, coconut water and pineapple juice for a quick and tasty tummy tickler.
Tummy soothing tea: Combine in tea brewing ball or basket about one teaspoon saffron and about an inch of peeled, chopped ginger. Add your favorite tea. We have found that a nice mild jasmine or rosehip tea works nicely, but any tea will do. Pour about three cups of boiling water – more or less according to your taste – and allow to seep until desired strength is achieved. Enjoy each morning to keep your digestive system happy.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, Dec. 6, 2011: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/statistics.aspx#all.
2. Herbalist.com, visited Dec. 6, 2011, http://www.herbalist.com/wiki.details/78/category/11/start/0/