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Maximizing digestion with snack choices

The recent popularity of diet and nutrition planning has helped people laser-focus on choosing foods that can provide them big results.  Everything from weight loss to having more energy can now be found in a diet.  Diet options help others combat more specific medical conditions like allergens or improved cardiovascular health.


It is very understandable that these “big ticket items” can influence a lot of our thinking when it comes to nutrition and diet.  Unfortunately, the quest for the lowest caloric amount or one type of food can also lead to choices that don’t always make for the best digestion.


When it comes to protein bars and other convenience snacks many don’t understand what to do about the bloating or gassiness they experience.  Better understanding the effects ingredients have on your digestion can help you make more informed choices.


Batchez head chef Geoffrey Squires has two pieces of advice in order to still enjoy convenience foods while maintaining good digestion:  

  1. Avoid certain problematic ingredients despite the allure of low calories or fad trends in dieting.
  2. Look for specific ingredients that are calorie friendly but also enablers of digestion.


The most obvious items to avoid are going to be those foods that cause inflammation in the digestive tract.  People always talk about trying to avoid preservatives, chemicals, additives, and artificial sweeteners.  But how many of us really understand their true impact on digestion.


In the protein bar and convenience food category artificial sweeteners are one of the most widely used “questionable” ingredients.  These food additives help avoid calories associated with sugars.   Popular artificial sweetener additives like sugar alcohols are helping people avoid sugar, but in return they are (in most individuals) going to cause digestive issues including gas, bloating and even diarrhea.


A second glaring ingredient to avoid is Gluten.  Many convenience foods now try to avoid gluten in their snacks.  Be sure to look closely at your choices so that you are also avoiding gluten and not just saving a few cents on a cheaper snack.   Gluten free is not just for people with known gluten allergies.  Avoiding gluten will help make improvements in anyone’s diet.


So where does that leave us when looking for a convenient, healthy, tasty and easy digesting snack or protein bar.  Geoff has some great natural ingredients that can be tasty and easy for digestion.


His first and favorite in this category is Ginger.  Ginger contains gingerol which is a natural anti-inflammatory.  It has also been proven to help with nausea.  Here is a more detailed review of gingers proven benefits.


Coming in at a close second is Cinnamon.  The anti-inflammatory properties of Cinnamon are very useful to the digestion process.  Cinnamon is also a smart culinary choice as its flavor can accentuate other ingredients to help give the perception of sweetness, while avoiding the use of sugars.  Here is more on all the health benefits of Cinnamon.  


Whole grains are pretty widely known as beneficial.  But why are whole grains so beneficial to our digestion?  The primary reason is their levels of prebiotic fiber.  Prebiotic fibers act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut.  Unlike probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fiber goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon. 


So if artificial sweeteners are on the digestion “no fly” list, where does that leave you when trying to enjoy some sweetness in your snack.  Geoff professes that the digestion benefits from natural sweeteners like honey and fruit should outweigh your concerns about the amount of added sugar that you are going to get from these ingredients.


And finally, Geoff is nuts about nuts. The form of nuts that you choose can matter.  His biggest piece of advice is to look for nut butters instead of whole nuts.  Whole nuts can have an enticing crunch, but because of their whole form, they are harder for your system to digest.


Don’t abandon protein bars and other convenience snacks because of bloating or gassiness.  Take time to become knowledgeable about the effects of certain ingredients and make informed choices that leave your taste buds and your digestive track satisfied.
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