(NaturalNews) Gastrointestinal problems are prolific in today's society, and this is largely due to the fact that the modern food supply is greatly lacking in the nutrients required for healthy digestion (not to mention a widespread overload of toxins from vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides). But the good news is that a life of chronic digestive upset does not have to rule the day, as simple dietary changes can help significantly improve and even cure many colonic problems. Here are six top foods to help you maintain a healthy gut:
1) Apples, apple cider vinegar. Many advanced colon-cleansing protocols include either whole apples, apple sauce, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar (ACV) because this simple fruit is a powerful cleansing food. High in fiber, a nutrient that is already widely known to promote healthy digestion, apples are also rich in pectin, a carbohydrate compound that acts as a thickening agent inside the gut. When taken in therapeutic doses, pectin can help root out built-up toxins in the colon and strengthen the intestinal lining.
Dr. Ed Group's "6-Day Advanced Oxygen Colon Cleanse," for instance, involves taking several tablespoons of ACV as part of the cleansing protocol (http://www.globalhealingcenter.com). And Dr. James Balch, M.D., in his book Prescription for Natural Healing explains how pectin, which is also found in bananas and in the rinds of citrus fruits, helps remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3062.Prescription_for_Natural_Cures).
2) Avocados. For everyday colon cleansing, avocados are another great option for detoxification and digestion. Like apples, avocados are rich in fiber, and include both soluble and insoluble varieties at a ratio of about one to three, which is quite unique. And as it turns out, insoluble fiber is the type that promotes healthy bowel movements and cleanses the colon, effectively reducing one's overall risk of developing colon cancer.
Also important is the avocado's soluble fiber content, which is important for absorbing water and binding with other digested substances to help them easily move through the digestive tract. This mechanistic "gelling" effect also helps maintain bowel regularity in its own unique way, and prevents the toxic buildups that can lead to irregularity and constipation.
3) Flax and chia seeds. Unique in their nutritional profiles, both flax and chia seeds possess fats and fiber that help promote healthy digestion and a clean colon. Both are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, which have been shown to stabilize cell walls and reduce inflammation. Flax and chia also contain their own unique blends of soluble fiber, which bind with food to optimize the digestive process.
"You want things in your diet that are multi-functional in that they have micronutrients in them like vitamins and minerals, and also help with digestion and fiber," says Sheah L. Rarback, M.S., director of nutrition at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. "Omega-3s are an added benefit. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is probably the cause of most of our problems and chronic conditions."
4) Chlorophyll-rich greens. Green fruits and vegetables that are rich in chlorophyll tend to promote healthy digestion and daily colon cleansing as well. Spinach, green olives, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, collard greens, sea vegetables, leeks, peas, and Swiss chard are all high in chlorophyll, which means they can help cleanse your digestive tract and detoxify your liver. Supplementing with liquid chlorophyll is another option for boosting intake of this important nutrient for maximum colon health.
"Fat-soluble chlorophyll adheres to the lining of the intestinal wall and retards bacterial growth, removes putrifactive bacteria from the colon, and helps heal the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract," explains the book The Enzyme Cure: How Plant Enzymes Can Help You Relieve 36 Health Problems (http://astore.amazon.com/NNbooks-20/detail/188729922X/103-0300096-4258269).
5) Clean water with sea salt. A hydrated colon is a healthy colon. Perpetual dehydration can lead to constipation and toxic buildup, which is why it is important to drink plenty of clean, fluoride-free water every day. Some experts recommend drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water every single day for maximum hydration and cleansing. You can also add some sea salt to your water to help further promote detoxification.
6) Fermented foods. The human digestive system is composed of a vast network of beneficial microbiota that are responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients, thwarting harmful bacteria, and eliminating toxins. When these bacteria get thrown out of balance, however, digestive health can suffer -- and the longer this bacterial balance is out of whack, the more severe the damage that can ensue.
In order to help offset the damage to your gut flora caused by environmental and food chemicals, antibiotic drugs, processed foods, and other factors, it is important to supplement with probiotic bacteria and eat plenty of fermented, probiotic-rich foods. These include cultured vegetables like kimchi, and fermented beverages like kombucha tea and kefir.