Jena DeMoss: Digging into your digestive health

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

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You have likely heard the terms gut health, prebiotics and probiotics — but what do they mean and how do they impact you? Let’s break down these key words with expert answers from a Hy-Vee dietitian, plus learn key areas and foods to focus on when it comes to improving your digestive health.

Digging into our digestive health starts with the gut microbiome. A combination of microorganisms including healthy bacteria live in our digestive tract. These microorganisms play a key role in our digestive system but also contribute to our metabolic functions and support our immune system. It’s important to maintain a flourishing gut microbiota and you can do that through the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics.

Probiotics are what we call the live microorganisms that can be consumed to help boost the population of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. These can come in the form of shelf-stable or refrigerated capsules, as well as in yogurt, kefir or other fermented foods.

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Prebiotics are what we call the food that we feed the microorganisms in our digestive tract. Prebiotics are a form of fiber and we can get them from our whole foods and in a variety of supplement forms.

Ready to get started on the journey to improve your digestive health? Start small by focusing on a few key areas of your diet.

Focus on Fiber — According to the American Society for Nutrition, 93% of American adults need more fiber in their diet! Dietary fiber plays many roles in our wellness, including helping with digestive regularity, adding bulk to waste and lowering our cholesterol. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as adding oats or apples into your diet for easy and cost-effective solutions to incorporating more fiber into your diet.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate — Water helps prevent constipation and helps food pass more easily through the digestive track. It is important if you are considering increasing your fiber intake to support your digestive health to increase your fluid intake to avoid constipation, gas or bloating.

Eat regular meals and snacks — With the hustle and bustle of daily lives many individuals may choose to skip meals and snacks, leading to overconsumption and that uncomfortable feeling of bloat at mealtime. Carve out time in your schedule to consume regular meals and snacks to allow your digestive system time to rest between meals and give it time to break down the food you have consumed.

Give your digestive health a boost and with this tasty recipe!

Blueberry-Cinnamon Yogurt Brittle

Serves: 4

All you need

• 2 (5.3-oz. each) containers Hy-Vee blueberry Greek yogurt

• ½ c. fresh blueberries

• 1 c. Hy-Vee cinni-mini crunch cereal, coarsely crushed

All you do

1. Place a silicone mat on a 15x10x1-inch sheet pan; set aside.

2. Open Hy-Vee blueberry Greek yogurt containers; stir to incorporate fruit. Spread yogurt evenly on the silicone-lined sheet pan. 3. Sprinkle blueberries and cereal over yogurt.

4. Place pan in the freezer; freeze 4 hours or overnight.

5. Once yogurt brittle is completely frozen, break into large pieces. Store yogurt brittle in the freezer in a large resealable plastic bag.