Digestive recovery diet

This diet is suitable for anyone who has experienced long term digestive inflammation and as a result has a very sensitive and sore digestive tract. Often there is very poor nutrient absorption, so even though good foods are being eaten, the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the food is poor – so as well as healing the digestive tract it is important that foods are easily digested. It is important to eat little and often and not overload the gut with a heavy meal, so eat something every 3 - 4 hours, but don’t graze otherwise your stomach will be constantly trying to work – give it time off between meals and snacks. Try to eat your largest meal by midday, and never drink more than a small glass of fluid with your meal. Use spices such as black pepper, mustard, ginger, coriander or cumin with all food if possible to help digestion.

 

There are several herbal tinctures and powders that can be prescribed to help with digestion – these would usually be taken before eating to prepare the gut for food – there are some examples below. You could also try a teaspoonful of cider vinegar or lime juice in a little water, or chewing on a piece of crystallised ginger, or grated fresh ginger mixed with a little grated or dessicated coconut, salt and lime juice.

 

Bone broths made from grass fed beef or lamb, or organic chicken will help to heal the gut and provide good and easily absorbed nutrition. Put bones or a whole chicken or pieces(with meat, fat, connective tissue still on) into a big pan of water with some onions and carrots, and a little cider vinegar and simmer very slowly for 12 to 24 hours. A slow cooker will do this well as will a low oven. Season and strain the stock and freeze in portions. Use it as a drink or as a base for soups and casseroles. If you have a sensitivity to histamine don’t take bone broths.

 

  • Start the day with juice of half a lemon or lime in ½ pint of hot or cool water. Add a little grated fresh ginger root if you like

  • Breakfast

    either fresh or stewed fruit with soaked nuts and seeds

    or nut milk - warm oat, nut or rice milk plus ground nuts/seeds plus a teaspoonful of honey or maple syrup

    or porridge made with oats, millet or quinoa flakes and cooked in water with lots of whole or ground nuts and seeds added after cooking, add dried or fresh fruit also

    or eggs in whatever form you like them – maybe with mushrooms or mashed leftover vegetables from the day before

    or green smoothie (see separate recipe)

  • Snacks should be soaked nuts, seeds and fruit, sesame bars, homemade flapjacks or cakes with added nuts, seeds and dried fruit, rice or oat cakes or rye crackers or carrot/celery sticks with hummus or nut butter or any of the suggested breakfasts. Also raw sweets or raw crackers (see separate recipes).

  • Lunch - should be your main meal if possible - kicharee - 1 part mung dahl (or puy lentils, split peas or similar pulses) plus 2 parts brown rice simmered slowly with a lid on in 6 parts water (add your bone stock here if you like) - add salt, black pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander and fresh herbs as you like - add seasonal vegetables at the appropriate stage of cooking. The rice and dahl will need 35-40 minutes gentle simmer - do not stir after all ingredients are added or you will get mush! You can add ghee, hemp seed oil, olive, avocado or similar oils to serve.

    or a stir fry of lots of vegetables plus fish, organic poultry, grass fed beef or lamb, tofu or nuts with brown rice or quinoa.

    Or any of the protein foods above with vegetables of any kind – roast, mashed, steamed, as you like

  • Evening meal should be light - home made soups, or salads with sprouted seeds - avocado would be good here, plus oils and spices as salad dressings – use pulses, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, tofu, grass fed beef or lamb, or organic chicken as your protein foods. A miso soup would be good here with fine chopped vegetables and tofu. If you can get it, use fermented tofu.

  • You should not eat any wheat, dairy, or processed foods and you should not drink any alcohol, tea or coffee. Also avoid pork, oranges and grapefruit as they are too inflammatory. Try to eat organic foods as much as possible. Grass fed red meat is fine in small portions only, and no more than once a day, preferably at lunchtime.

  • If your digestion is very sore have a couple of days with just liquid foods, for example green smoothies, miso soup, chicken broth etc.

  • You will need to take probiotics to replace your bowel flora for a month or two – this will also help with digestion

  • You may also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements – these will be best as liquid preparations as they will be more easily absorbed.

 

This is the best way to organise the meals, but you can swap lunch and evening meal if it makes life easier.

You should drink plenty of fluids through the day - water and herb teas, especially those with spices in such as ginger, fennel, cardamon, aniseed and celery seed.

Some helpful herbal formulae:

Bitters tonic tincture formula: artichoke, angelica, gentian, blessed thistle, fennel, ginger and cinnamon

Swedish bitters tincture: wormwood, angelica, manna, rhubarb root, senna, theriac, cinnamon, malabar, cardamom, valerian, zedvoary root, blessed thistle, myrrh, camphor, saffron and ginger

Slippery elm powder formula: slippery elm, marshmallow root, liquorice, chamomile and cardamom – to soothe and heal an inflamed stomach – mixed with banana, aloe vera juice, juice or water to a paste or liquid

Christine Herbert christineherbert.co.uk