The food we eat can either be our first line of defence against harmful illnesses and disease, or can be detrimental depending on our choices. Studies show that as a nation we are becoming nutrient deficient which means due to the fact that we are consuming more processed and manufactured foods rather than home cooked, fresh foods our health is being compromised. Digestive disorders can commence with the first signs of indigestion, gastric reflux, irritable bowel then can lead on to coeliac and chron's disease which can lead further to stomach and bowel cancer. So it is vital that we become what I call mindful of the foods we eat,(I like to call Mindful Nutrition) so the we have the maximum opportunity for Optimal Health.

To receive the ultimate nutritional value of the foods we eat, it is vital that our digestion is functioning at it's optimal.

You may or may not have heard of digestive enzymes, yes you can buy them in a bottle, but an easier and less expensive alternative is to incorporate them into your daily diet. Please see below the foods to incorporate to help you with proper digestion of your food intake. You will find that this will assist weight loss, bloating, indigestion and reflux.

Foods with Naturally Occurring Digestive Enzymes- Raw, uncooked foods contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts that aid in digestion. They refer to a group of proteins that break down and digest nutrients. Digestive enzymes begin in the mouth when saliva interacts with food. Although the enzymes convert food into usable nutrients, the enzymes remain unchanged. Some foods with naturally occurring digestive enzymes, such as yogurt, with active, live cultures, break down lactose, which makes yogurt a possibility for those who are lactose intolerant.

Fresh Fruit - According to Jonny Bowden, author of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," papaya and pineapple are the best sources of foods that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. Papaya contains the naturally occurring digestive enzyme papain, which helps to digest protein. Pineapples contain the digestive enzyme bromelain, which acts as an aid for ingestion. Pineapples also contain multiple anti-inflammatory enzymes. Mangos, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries and grapefruit also contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes.

Raw Vegetables - Vegetables contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes, especially green, leafy vegetables. Wheat grass juice contains approximately 30 different enzymes. Aloe vera juice, mixed bean and seed spouts all contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. "Shiitake mushrooms contain enzymes and vitamins that do not normally appear in plants," according to Jonny Bowden. Parsley, kale, broccoli, celery, cabbage and beets and beet greens are excellent choices for raw vegetables that contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes.

Raw Foods - Raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables contain enzymes necessary for digestion. Natural, digestive enzymes are destroyed through the heating and cooking processes. Good choices of foods that contain digestive enzymes are fresh apples, figs, pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries and apricots. All of the bell peppers: red, yellow, green and orange, as well as tomatoes, are excellent choices. According to Patrick Holford, author of "The New Optimum Nutrition Bible," grapes, honey that is raw and unpasteurized, soybeans and sweet potatoes contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes. In addition, apple cider vinegar contains a surprisingly high number of nutrients and enzymes.

Probiotics - fermented foods: If you have digestive problems, it will be almost impossible to permanently eliminate them unless you improve the balance between bacteria that is beneficial and disease causing or bad bacteria that exist naturally in your digestive system. One of the most effective ways to do this is by eating foods that are high in beneficial bacteria called probiotics specifically traditional fermented foods these probiotics can be found in the following foods:
1. Yogurt: One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Look for brands made from goat’s milk that have been infused with extra forms of probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, including bulgaricus and acidophilus. Be sure to read the ingredients list, as not all yogurt is made equally. Many popular brands are filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors and are way too close to being a nutritional equivalent of sugary, fatty ice cream. Traditional Greek Style Yogurt or an organic one like Paris Creek preferably plain as you can add the fruit or vanilla flavouring yourself.
2. Kefir: Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.
3. Sauerkraut: Made from fermented cabbage (and sometimes other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but might also help with reducing allergy symptoms. Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamins B, A, E and C.
4.Microalgae: This refers to super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae. These probiotic foods have been shown to increase the amount of both Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract. They also offer the most amount of energetic return, per ounce, for the human system.
5.Miso Soup: Miso soup is classed as a probiotic food: Miso is one the main-stays of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. Beyond its important live cultures, miso is extremely nutrient-dense and believed to help neutralize the effects of environmental pollution, alkalinize the body and stop the effects of carcinogens in the system.
6. Roasted or plain almonds: These are actually classed as pre probiotic and work wonders having a few between meals.
7. Pickles: Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics. Try making your own home-made pickles in the sun

By including foods from each of these groups into your daily eating regime in no time you will not only have a happier digestive system, by you will also feel better, have more energy and lower your risk of severe health problems dramatically.

For further information:

Empowering You to Optimal Health Julie Doherty N.D

Author's Bio: 

Julie Doherty is a Fully Accredited Naturopathic & Massage Practitioner with the Australian Traditional Medicine Society Ltd.
Having completed Professional Qualifications in Naturopathic Medicine: Herbal Medicine: Homoeopathic, Nutritional Medicine: Holistic Massage Therapy: Body Work: & Natural Beauty Therapy. This has enabled Julie to follow her dream of supporting people to overcome their health issues & heal their body with the use of a combination of Naturopathic, Herbal, and Homoeopathic & Nutritional Medicines & Therapies to become well without causing further harm or complications
Julie is involved in supporting other health care professionals with treatment protocols for people who are on prescription medication, chemo therapy and other related health care procedures
Julie’s vision and passion has been & still is to assist each person to become well with the least invasive & most effective treatments. Whilst working with likeminded people.
Over the past 25 years, Julie Doherty has successfully treated & assisted people with various areas of ill health and disease from the common cold, skin ailments through to cancer.
Julie’s approach is to enable each person to have the best “Quality of life possible” whilst making your treatments effective, affordable and manageable incorporating these strategies into each person's everyday living. Respecting each person's culture and individual characteristics
Julie is a sought-after public speaker, lecturer & author providing community talks, facilitated & implementing professional related courses.
Julie is a published blogger and recognized for her expert knowledge as an author with Self Growth supporting & providing assistance with healthy life protocols.
Julie has been recognized by the Stanford Who's Who and the Continental Who's Who for her dedication and recognition of excellence as a Health Care Practitioner, Executive, Entrepreneur and Professional standards of ethics.
What makes the work of Julie Doherty stand out? The successful testimonials of her clients becoming well both-young and old, from a wide range of disease and signs of ill health: It has been commented about her humanness, her humour, her willingness to reveal so much of herself, her belief and commitment to her industry and clients, and the easy-to-understand style of her communicating and her simplistic way of explaining treatments and programs to become well. Her understanding of the interconnectedness when their is a problem with health and it is out of balance that it is never just one thing, so addressing all related causes of the health problem/problems that she addresses with you.
To complement our healthy treatment programs Julie has formulated a Skin, Hair & Body Care Range that is good for you “Just For You”, not only will it have your skin looking great, healthy & vibrant. Your skin needs to be fed good healthy nutrients the same as your body