Digestion

A grumbling gut can be just plain uncomfortable, or worse, symptomatic of larger problems. Get the latest news and information to keep your tummy in tip-top shape on the NorthStar blog on digestion.

  1. Nutrient-Rich Sweet Treats and Desserts

    rich-nutrientEating empty calories just to sate a sweet tooth is so outdated. But does that mean that you have to give up desserts entirely?

    Not if you follow a few simple guidelines and focus on nutrient-rich sweet treats!

    Guidelines for Making Nutrient-Rich Desserts a Part of a Healthy Diet

    1. Remember that balance is the key. If you completely remove sweets and desserts from your diet, you’re more likely to overindulge rather than just have an occasional treat. So plan ahead and know what and when your next dessert is going to be. That way you never feel deprived and more likely to binge.

    2. Make substitutions in your favorite desserts to make them more nutrient-rich. Use fresh fruit that’s been macerated rather than jam or jelly. Swap whole grain flour for white flour and apple sauce or coconut oil for vegetable oil. The options are endless, and your food will still taste delicious.

    3. Search out nutrient-rich desserts. Sweets and treats can be healthier and still be satisfying. Expand your horizons a bit, and try new flavors and textures. Yes, you can certainly make substitutions in your standbys, but spread your wings and try new desserts, too. You very well may find new favorites to go along with your old favorites.

    4. Remember that portions matter. No one wants to weigh every bite and count every calorie. We get that. But portions do matter, and to stay healthy, you need to remember that. Even nutrient-rich desserts can be high in calories and sugar. So, have a single serving – and make sure it actually is a single serving.

    5. Stay healthy in other aspects of your life. It’s easier to work nutrient-rich treats into your diet without causing damage to your health when you’re generally healthy to begin with. Make sure you’re getting plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy carbs, and good-for-you fats. Move every day. Aim for your 10,000 steps, along with thirty minutes of exercise daily. The occasional indulgence is hardly a drop in the bucket when you’re maintaining health in every other way.

    Nutrient-Rich Desserts to Get You Started

    Now that you’re ready to try nutrient-rich sweets, where do you even start? How about right here! And just in time for the holiday baking season…

    Chocolate Coconut Truffles

    The fresh fruit, dark chocolate, coconut, and avocado all combine to take these from empty calorie treats to nutrient-rich ones!

    INGREDIENTS

    • 140 grams dark chocolate (higher percentage of cacao the better)
    • ½ avocado
    • ¼ cup mixed berries (think blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate and/or cherries , whatever you prefer)
    • Pinch of salt
    • 2 T pure maple syrup
    • ½ t pure vanilla extract
    • Shredded coconut

    DIRECTIONS

    1. Stirring constantly, melt chocolate over a double boiler. Remove once melted, but before chocolate starts to scorch.
    2. Add the avocado, berries and vanilla to a food processor or blender and combine until smooth.
    3. Drizzle in the melted chocolate, a pinch of salt and the maple syrup. Blend until smooth. The mixture will be very runny. Put mixture into the freezer until you can roll it into a ball and have it still hold its shape.
    4. Once chocolate is firm, roll a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into a ball, then roll in the shredded coconut.
    5. Place in a dish lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Apple Oat Crumble

    Fresh fruit and whole grains make this a seasonal, nutrient-rich treat everyone will enjoy.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 medium apples (granny smith or macoun have a nice tartness that works well with the sugar, and a texture that will hold up to the baking, but any variety will do)
    • 2 T fresh lemon juice
    • 2 T packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/4 c water
    • 1/4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/8 t ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 2 t cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat oven to 375°F.

    Slice apples into thin slices, or dice into medium sized cubes. Leave the skins on for a truly nutrient-rich dessert.

    Toss with lemon juice and 1 T brown sugar. Transfer to oven-safe baking dish and sprinkle with water. Cook for about 20 minutes.

    While baking, combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over cooked apples, and return to oven for another 25-30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are bubbling.

    Serve hot or at room temperature.

    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Everybody needs a good chocolate chip cookie recipe in their repertoire. So why not make it a nutrient-rich chocolate chip cookie? No one will ever know the difference.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 6 T unsalted butter
    • 1/3 c granulated sugar
    • 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
    • 3 T honey
    • 2 t pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 t espresso powder
    • 1/2 t butterscotch or butter-rum flavor, optional
    • 3/4 t salt
    • 1 T cider vinegar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 1/2 t baking powder
    • 2 c White Whole Wheat Flour or Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
    • 2 2/3 to 3 cups dark chocolate chips

    DIRECTIONS

    • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
    • In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, honey, vanilla, espresso powder, butter-rum flavor, and salt until smooth.
    • Beat in the vinegar, egg, baking soda, and baking powder.
    • Stir in the flour, then the chocolate chips, mixing just until combined.
    • Drop the dough, by tablespoonfuls, onto the prepared baking sheets.
    • Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes until their bottoms are barely starting to brown (gently lift one up to peek). If they look underdone, that’s really okay. These are meant to be soft and chewy.
    • Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

    And want to make these or any of your favorite desserts even more nutrient-rich? Just add a scoop  of BenVia Gold ground chia seed.

    Packed with the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber to make any recipe nutrient-rich, BenVia Gold is perfect for just about any baked good you’re craving.

    Plus, it imparts a subtle, nutty crunch, making it perfect for your favorite treats!

    Nutrient-rich doesn’t have to mean bland, blah, or boring. Not with these recipes, and not with BenVia Gold ground chia seed!

  2. Why a Lack of Fiber Could Be Killing You

    fiber lack ofThe average adult needs between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day.

    Unfortunately, the average American adult only gets about 15 grams of fiber per day – just about half the amount you need!

    And it turns out this lack of fiber could be killing you.

    Sound alarmist? That’s because it’s alarming – but it’s also the truth.

    Getting enough fiber isn’t just about feeling fuller, longer, so you stick to your diet.

    It’s not even only about the sustained energy that comes from the healthy carbohydrates where most people find their fiber.

    Getting enough fiber is about fighting off diseases that can actually kill you.

    Now that we’ve gotten your attention, let’s look at what a lack of fiber is doing to your health…

    The Two Types of Fiber

    Your body needs two types of fiber:

    Soluble – think about the soluble being short for “water soluble” because this is the fiber that absorbs water once you eat it. Most people know that it’s what bulks up and gives you healthy bowel movements. You can find it in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and many other sources.

    Insoluble – this form of fiber stays completely unchanged once you digest it. It’s best known for keeping your digestive system moving, so you stay regular. You can find it in seeds, vegetables, and whole grains, among other foods.

    Fiber as a Line of Defense

    Healthy fiber intake is one of the easiest, most effective ways to stay healthy yourself.

    Constipation. While there’s more to fiber than healthy bowels, since that’s the best known, let’s start there. Yes, a lack of fiber can lead to constipation. And while mild, temporary constipation is uncomfortable, it’s hardly a health crisis. Except that chronic constipation can lead to a disease called diverticulitis – and that is a problem. Diverticulitis occurs when small pouches develop in the colon, and become inflamed. Symptoms include severe pain, fever, and nausea. If caught early, it can be treated relatively easily, but once it becomes chronic, surgery may be indicated. So, yes, a lack of fiber can cause constipation – but constipation can cause so much more.

    Cardiovascular disease. Want to lower your risk of a heart attack? Increase your fiber intake. High fiber diets have been linked to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol numbers. It’s not even just good for prevention or maintenance. People who had a lack of fiber in their diets, and then increased the amount of fiber saw their numbers go down!

    Stroke. Since fiber helps lower cholesterol, it only makes sense that it also reduces your risk of stroke. By increasing your fiber intake by as little as seven g/day you could reduce your risk of stroke by up to 7%.

    Diabetes. A lack of fiber contributes to diabetes in a couple different ways. First, fiber fills you up, which means you simply eat less. Since diabetes and obesity are directly linked, maintaining a healthy weight is the first step toward staving off diabetes. However, fiber also slows the absorption of the sugar you do eat, so you run less of a chance of serious blood sugar spikes and the out of control glucose levels that lead to diabetes.

    Cancer. Once you realize a lack of fiber increases your risk of cancer, it’s hard to understand why everyone isn’t eating more of it. But people aren’t. However…

    • High fiber diets are linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer. It’s believed that the fiber may help move waste – and the toxins it carries – through the digestive tract faster, so the toxins don’t have as much time to impact the colon.
    • Breast cancer rates are lower. Fiber may bind with excess estrogen – one of the causes of breast cancer – so that it’s processed out, rather than left in the body.
    • Mouth, throat, and esophageal cancers may even be reduced by fiber intake. In a study based on patients’ surveys, those who reportedly ate the most plant-based fiber had lower rates of those three types of cancers than other patients. Obviously more research needs to be done, but it’s certainly encouraging!

    Sources of Fiber

    A myth that contributes to a lack of fiber is that you can get fiber from meat. So let’s dispel that now: there is no fiber in meat. Even if it’s fibrous meat, like steak, it isn’t a source of nutritional fiber.

    You must get fiber from plant-based sources. Think vegetables, fruits, legumes, chia seeds, nuts, whole grains… You get the idea.

    But what about those fiber powders you see on tv that promise to keep you regular and help you slim down? Unfortunately, they’re not as helpful when it comes to fighting disease as you might think.

    Fiber is like sugar in that you want to avoid ADDED sources. Natural sources of fiber are healthy and will help you fight disease.

    Added sources of fiber just don’t have the same effect. In fact, some processed foods are adding insoluble fiber as a way of marketing their product as healthy.

    But added insoluble fiber actually bonds to the essential minerals zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron, processing them out of your body.

    The foods with added insoluble fiber manages to be less healthy than if they’d left it alone in the first place.

    So don’t add the powdered stuff to your yogurt (or anything else) help make up for your lack of fiber. Instead, add some wheat germ or chia seeds, and get a natural source of fiber.

    It’s the same difference between sprinkling your iced tea with sugar, or adding orange slices.

    It’s okay if you didn’t realize how important fiber is to your health. But now you know. So don’t let a lack of fiber create health problems, when they’re so easy to avoid!

  3. 12 Tips to Stay Regular While on Vacation

    regular stayIt’s summer and that means summer vacation!

    Whether you’re globetrotting, heading to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere in between, the last thing you want is to deal with stomach issues on the road.

    Luckily, it doesn’t take much effort or even planning to stay regular every step of the way!

    We’ve even compiled this go-to guide, with the tips you need to keep “going”, no matter where you’re going.

    Continue reading

  4. 4 Delicious Easy-to-Digest Meals

    digest easy toMany things change as our bodies age, some good, some not so good.

    For some people, it becomes more important to eat east-to-digest foods and meals than it once was.

    But that doesn’t mean your meals have to be bland, uninteresting, or tasteless.

    Your digestive tract may need a little TLC, but your taste buds are just fine!

    So, we’ve collected four recipes, and even a few tips, that taste good AND keep your tummy happy.

    Continue reading

  5. 10 Tips to Cure Acid Reflux Naturally

    acid reflux cureThat burning sensation in the middle of your chest.

    That acidy taste in the back of your throat.

    You may think they are the issues, but they might just be the symptoms.

    If you experience these more than twice a week, you could be dealing with more than just heartburn.

    You could be dealing with acid reflux. The good news is, that you can cure acid reflux at home, naturally.

    And in this article, we’ll tell you how…

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  6. 10 Must-Have Superfoods for Better Digestion

    Superfoods are all the rage these days, and for good reason.

    They are nutritionally dense, address multiple health concerns at once, and usually taste great.

    But did you also know that some superfoods can help you with better digestion?

    Because sometimes good health isn’t just about your heart, brain, and life expectancy.

    Sometimes, good health is far more basic than that.

    Sometimes, what you want is to get over the discomfort, gas, bloating, and constipation that comes from poor digestion.

    On those days, focus on these superfoods – for overall health AND better digestion.

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  7. Listen to Your Gut: The Complete Guide of Good and Bad Gut Bacteria

    Posted by: on

    Nothing is more important than your health – but if don’t know how to listen to your gut, you aren’t taking care of your health the way you think you are.

    Don’t get us wrong, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising are essential steps to maintaining your health and we’re not arguing that.

    But listening to your gut is the piece you may be missing.

    We’ve been taught that bacteria is bad, and when it’s on your kitchen counter or in a scrape on your knee, it is.

    Bad when it’s in your gut, it’s the cornerstone of health. Continue reading

  8. 6 Unknown Causes of Stomach Pressure

    pressure stomachSome of the causes of stomach pressure are so common they’re clichéd.

    After all, everyone knows beans are a magical fruit…

    But what happens when you’ve stopped eating the obvious foods that can cause stomach pressure and discomfort, but you’re still dealing with it?

    If this is the case, then it’s time to look beyond the obvious.

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  9. How is My Stomach REALLY? [Take the Leaky Gut Test]

    test leaky gut Are you suffering from symptoms from your head all the way down?

    Do you really not feel well, in spite of being “just fine”?

    Has your doctor given you a laundry list of treatments that don’t seem to be working?

    If any of this sounds familiar, we may have answers for you – finally.

    Because your symptoms may not be the problem at all. The problem may be in your gut.

    Take the leaky gut test, and learn if relief is just around the corner…

     

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  10. 6 Benefits of Licorice Root to Boost Your Health

    licorice root benefitsMost of us gave up the Easter Bunny decades ago, but you might be tempted to rethink his visit once you know that a health booster may be lurking in your Easter basket!

    Even if you used to turn your nose up at the licorice jelly beans, you’ll change your mind once you learn about the health benefits of licorice root.

    Now, obviously licorice candy isn’t the healthy way to reap the benefits of licorice root. But a health boosting supplement? That’s worth getting excited about. Continue reading

  11. Could Nettle Root Extract Be the Key to Great Health?

    If there were leaves…or stems…or roots of a plant that could change your health, wouldn’t you want to know about them?

    And what if there was one single plant that you could use every part of to support and promote great health?

    Well, I’ve got news for you. From the leaves to the stems to the nettle root extract, you’re going to want to know about every part of the stinging nettle plant – and how it can help you maintain your best health. Continue reading

  12. 10 Shocking Foods That Keep You Regular

    How often should you be having bowel movements?

    What are foods that keep you regular?

    These aren’t exactly questions people ask each other openly.

    But just because most people are uncomfortable discussing digestive health doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking about digestive health.

    Between 15% and 20% of the American population deals with ongoing constipation issues. Which is why it’s important that you have answers.

    You deserve to understand what’s normal. And know all the foods that can keep you regular – including the ones you don’t expect! Continue reading

  13. 13 Surprising Foods and Drinks for a Healthy Digestive System

    digestive system healthyYou try to take care of yourself but some days it doesn’t always work. Some days, it feels like every attempt to keep a healthy digestive system backfires.

    Those are the days that a little patience, and the right dietary choices are in order. Make sure you’re getting these foods and beverages on a regular basis and make for a healthy digestive system, every day. Continue reading

  14. The Dangerous Link Between Stress and Digestion

    You’ve been having digestion issues. You know something is wrong.

    But the tests and appointments show nothing. Even your doctor isn’t taking you seriously any longer.

    If this sounds remotely familiar, it’s time to start think out of the box.

    It’s time to look at how stress and digestion are linked.

    Because even if there’s not a physical problem that shows up on a scan, there’s still a real problem – and you deserve to be treated with concern and respect.

    Continue reading

  15. 11 Amazing Health Benefits of Ginger

    ginger root health benefitsThis time of year, it’s almost impossible to walk into any store and not be bombarded with gingerbread.

    From cookies to houses to decorations, gingerbread is everywhere it seems.

    But that might not be a bad thing once you know the health benefits of ginger root!

    Okay, so gingerbread may not be the healthiest choice you can make, but adding ginger to your daily routine can have amazing health benefits.

    Plus, you can take it in tea, capsules, powder, or as a seasoning and reap the rewards.

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  16. 12 Constipation Remedies You Can’t Live Without

    Remedies constipationYour holiday season is going along swimmingly when one day, it hits you: constipation.

    The rich food and busy schedule has caught up with you.

    There’s nothing worse, but you don’t have to be debilitated by the discomfort, bloating, and uncertainty that comes with not being able to go.

    Instead, try these 12 natural constipation remedies and get your holiday back on track!

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  17. 11 Secrets to a Healthy Holiday Diet

    Diet holidayYou want to enjoy the holidays – but you want to stay healthy, too.

    Luckily, that’s possible if you’re willing to invest just a little effort into your holiday diet.

    Continue reading

  18. 6 Unknown Health Benefits of Eating Pumpkin

    eating pumpking benefitsNow that it’s autumn, it seems that pumpkin-flavored treats are everywhere.

    As overwhelming as it may seem, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because there are so many health benefits of eating pumpkin.

    Of course, in order to get the benefits of pumpkin, you have to be eating real pumpkin, so your favorite coffee flavorings probably don’t count.

    But real pumpkin will give you these benefits and more, year-round. Continue reading

  19. 6 Shocking Reasons Why Your Stomach Always Hurts

    always hurts stomachYour stomach always hurts.

    Maybe it’s a low level ache.

    Maybe it’s cramping.

    Maybe it’s nausea before or after you eat.

    You’re even trying to make smarter choices with your diet and health.

    Trying to find ways to eat less.

    Even swapping out added sugars.

    But the bottom line is… it seems like your stomach always hurts.

    It could be that some of the very choices you’re making to improve your health are the shocking reasons why your stomach always hurts.

    What am I talking about? How about – Continue reading

  20. Digestion Problems: Is Your Gut Making You Sick?

    Problems with digestionYou know that digestion problems can make you uncomfortable.

    Did you know that they can also be making you sick?

    Skin conditions, joint issues, even heart problems and depression can all be caused by a digestion problem known as “leaky gut.”

    In this article, we’ll look at how your gut works, what having a leaky gut means, and how keeping it healthy can help keep you healthy.

    Continue reading

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