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Green Vegetables and Our Digestive System

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

More than once I have heard of patients who routinely avoid consuming certain vegetables, fearing that it will cause them gas or abdominal bloating. Sometimes they avoid this group of important foods for years because it was a recommendation that they received without a justifiable reason. But once you understand what the leaves and the green vegetables do to our digestive system, you wouldn’t want to stop eating them!!

Green leaves are the perfect food for our good bacteria!

Green leaves and our digestive system are actually good friends and they are among the most important foods that should be included in our diet.

Why is that?

First of all, green vegetables are rich in chlorophyll - a powerful antioxidant that supports the health of our intestines.

They are bursting with minerals, such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium and vitamins such as vitamins C, B, folic acid and more.

Green leaves contain components called Sulfoquinovose, abbreviated as SQ. This component is important for our good gut bacteria - the good bacteria that produce butyrate - a short-chain fatty acid, which helps repair the intestinal epithelial cells and restore the leaky gut.

The bacteria that produce the butyrate love SQ very much! This is why it is important to combine a wide variety of greens in our diet such as kale, bok choy, spinach, baby leaves, arugula, lettuce, celery, beet leaves, chard, rocket and more.

Juice your greens

During intestinal inflammation such as Crohn's, Ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis, increased consumption of fiber can be problematic in these cases the solution is to juice the greens! Green juices are a wonderful way to provide an amazing range of antioxidants and healthy nutrients to anyone who is unable to digest the leaves.

Green leaves are essential for the health of our gut and the proper functioning of our microbiome.

Don't be afraid of green vegetables from the cruciferous family!

Green vegetables from the cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy are probably the healthiest food you can provide your body. In my work, I come across so many people who simply avoid eating cruciferous vegetables, sometimes even for years, for fear that they cause gas and abdominal bloating. But on the other hand, processed, gluten and dairy products remain a significant part of their menu.

The truth is, cruciferous vegetables contain the nutrients that accelerate the growth of the intraepithelial lymphocyte cells that line the digestive system and protect it!

These immune system cells located around the villi of the intestines are our main defense against viruses, toxins and bacteria.

How do we combine vegetables and green leaves in the diet?

Green vegetables can be combined in a variety of ways in our daily menu, depending on your tolerance and personal taste. For anyone who does not normally have a problem digesting fiber, green leaves can be incorporated into salads, stews, sandwiches, pies, etc.

In cases where there is no tolerance for a large amount of fiber, you can grind a small number of green leaves in smoothies, or squeeze them into juice.

Regarding cruciferous vegetables, the most recommended preparation method for them is steaming (I call it a "hot" salad). Steaming is the healthiest cooking method. It preserves the nutritional values ​​of the foods in the best way possible and makes them easy to digest. Steaming vegetables or cooking them in soup are excellent options for those who deal with Crohn's, Ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis and want to incorporate more vegetables into their diet.

My Recommendation

It's time to stop being afraid of broccoli, cabbage, or any other green vegetable, and start gradually incorporating a moderate amount of them into your menu. Try to find the method of preparation that suits you and your digestive system. Start with a small amount and increase gradually, depending on your reaction and personal tolerance.

Bear in mind, even if you feel that they bloat you, do not deprive your body of such important foods for a long time! Try to find another solution. The gas and bloating are a sign of an intestinal bacteria imbalance. The more severe the imbalance, the more food sensitivities you will have. Remember, the problem is not in the food itself, but in the intestine that is not functioning properly. Therefore, the solution is not through long-term prevention, but through a deep restoration of the digestive system and the microbiome.

Green vegetables
Green vegetables


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