By Perri O. Blumberg
Let’s be real—digestive issues probably don’t top your list of dinnertime (or anytime) topics you’d like to dive into with others. But from IBS to diarrhea to garden-variety bloat, millions of Americans grapple with digestive issues every day. And although scooping up some store-bought products isn’t a cure-all, these innovative products can help shrink and soothe your belly, easing digestion and helping your body run more smoothly.
Best when: Hunger hasn’t struck but you can feel your tummy rumbling, or you want an on-the-go, thirst-quenching drink
Flavor bursts and digestive comfort go hand-in-hand in this line of refreshing, effervescent drinks, which come in varieties like Lemon Ginger and Hibiscus Berry. Each beverage contains four live strains of digestion-aiding probiotics, a.k.a. the “good” bacteria (or yeast) that fosters a balanced environment in your digestive tract. KeVita provides more than four times the probiotics than a cup of yogurt, and these vegan, gluten-free drinks are also non-GMO, organic and low in calories and sugar.
PALETA Power Up
Best when: You’ve got stomach cramps from hunger pangs but aren’t ready to eat a full meal
Loaded with whole grains that help stabilize blood sugar, these vegan and gluten-free bars also have a secret weapon: Tahini, a nutrient-dense sesame butter that can help with detox. “Since the bars are also nut- or seed-based, they pack a niacin [a pivotal B vitamin] punch which is vital to a vigorous digestive system,” says Kelly Boyer, CEO, founder and executive chef at PALETA. And bye-bye, bloat: “They also have coconut, which contains potassium, providing a natural vehicle to flush sodium from your body, resulting in a sleeker you."
Best when: You’re craving an indulgence but want to keep it healthy
You’ll want to tuck these away in a hidden crevice of your kitchen to shield them from Mysterious Disappearance Virus. Each 3-ounce bar has four million CFUs (Colony Forming Units, or beneficial probiotics) to support immune health and efficient digestion. Additionally, they’re a good source of calcium and offer seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein, two factors that can stave off hunger. We’re big fans of the toasted coconut and dark chocolate flavors the 3-ounce bars, and the mint chocolate .7-ounce refrigerated variety, which contain three strains of probiotics and 6.1 billion CFUs.
Best when: You think your go-to protein bar is giving you digestive issues
Brimming with B-vitamins and omega-3s, these savory energy bites deliver high-quality animal protein without soy or dairy, both of which can lead to digestive unease. “The isolated sources of protein from whey and soy are so processed that our body has a difficult time recognizing it as food,” says Taylor Collins, co-founder of EPIC. “As a result, we’re only able to digest a fraction of the actual protein content." High-protein, paleo-friendly flavors like bison bacon chia and beef cranberry sriracha are grain free and low in sugar.
Best when: You need a good-for-you snack that will help you go
Sure, that ice cream sandwich might feel good going down, but snacking always feels better when it’s guilt-free. These crunchy snacks have with four grams of fiber per serving, plus seven grams of filling protein. Broccoli is high in vitamins A, B6 and C (the bites offer up more than a day’s recommended amount of vitamin C) and potassium. Rhythm’s other flavors, like Zesty Nacho and Asian Citrus, use ingredients that rank high on the ANDI system, which ranks foods based on how many micronutrients are contained in a calorie.
Uncle Sam Original
Wheat Berry Flakes
Best when: You want a breakfast that won’t require more effort than pouring something into a bowl
When was the last time you saw a packaged cereal made with four ingredients? Us too. Despite its short ingredient list, these flakes contain an impressive ten grams of fiber and nine grams of protein, with less than one gram of sugar. The cereal has the American Heart Association’s seal of approval, and the addition of flaxseeds also makes it a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories that fight belly bloat, and research shows they might lower your risk of gastrointestinal disease.
Activated Charcoal Drinks
Best when: Week-long juice cleanses aren’t your thing but your body is craving a digestive reboot
Fear not: This doesn’t involve liquified No. 2 pencils. Activated charcoal functions much like a sponge, drawing toxins out of the body then sweeping it away with waste. That quells bloat and can even brighten your skin. The drink is available in Activated Greens (a sippable, subtle veggie flavor), Lemonade and Protein varieties; each contains two teaspoons of activated charcoal per bottle. (Note: If you are pregnant or taking medication, be sure to consult your physician before trying it.)
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