Healthy food aids digestion

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Do you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux after meals?

This may be due to a number of reasons, but is often caused by reflux. Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), or acid reflux, is a chronic condition in which the contents of the stomach regurgitate (backs up or refluxes) into the oesophagus, causing inflammation and damage to the lining of the oesophagus.

Deanna Copland
Deanna Copland
The health of the upper digestive tract determines the health and environment of the rest of the digestive tract. Commonly those with upper GI complaints also have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and bowel dysbiosis. Testing would determine if these factors are responsible, but often a few dietary and lifestyle changes can make a noticeable difference.

Avoiding certain foods and beverages may help reduce reflux symptoms. Acidic foods, carbonated (fizzy) beverages, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, mint, and spicy foods can reduce the lower oesophageal sphincter tone and motility, cause mucosal irritation, or increase gastric juice secretion.

Regular and adequate intake of fibre is associated with decreased heartburn symptoms. Soluble fibre found in foods such as oats, bananas, dates and lentils is found to decrease symptoms and oesophageal pressure.

High-fat diets, especially those which include increased amounts of saturated fat from fried or greasy foods can worsen reflux symptoms. Increase healthy omega-3 fats from walnuts, and monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, almond butter, and avocado instead, to reduce symptoms.

Try to eat meals seated upright at a table to optimise digestive function and reduce portion size. Aim to eat at least 2-3 hours before bed at night also. Avoid liquids just before and with meals, also as this can dilute the acid in the stomach.

In herbal medicine, the likes of slippery elm powder, licorice, aloe vera, marshmallow may be recommended for soothing and healing so seeing a naturopath for a personalised plan to support the body can be worthwhile.

Chicken fried rice

Serves 3

⅔ cup Jasmine rice (uncooked)

4 free range eggs (whisked)

1/4 cup water

6 button mushrooms (sliced)

2 cups snap peas (chopped)

2 chicken breasts, cooked (chopped)

1 Tbsp tamari / coconut aminos or soy sauce

1/2 tsp sea salt (divided)

1/4 cup chives (plus more for garnish)


Soak rice in cold water for 1-2 hours to remove any residues. Rinse well and then cook rice according to the directions on the package. Allow to cool in the fridge.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the eggs to the pan and move them around with a spatula continuously until fluffy, about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat the water over medium to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, snap peas, cooked chicken and half the salt, scraping up any bits at the bottom of the pan. Cook for about five minutes, or until the water has absorbed and the mushrooms are soft and the snap peas are tender crisp.

Stir in the scrambled eggs, cooked rice and chives, breaking up any large chunks. Add tamari. Season with the remaining salt to taste. Divide into bowls and garnish with additional chives (optional).

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