Your small intestine is a crucial part of your digestive system that is responsible for digesting your foods, absorbing nutrients and moving your food through your bowels and gut. Eating certain foods can help you maintain the health of your 17- to 24-foot-long small intestine, which will result in better overall health.
Yogurt contains live organisms called probiotics that may work to keep your small intestine healthy and working properly. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help reduce the existence of harmful bacteria. These beneficial bacteria may also promote healthy and efficient digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals. Read the ingredient and nutrition label on your yogurt to determine if contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which have the potential to improve the health of your small intestine. Kefir, sauerkraut, miso and fermented dairy foods are additional sources of probiotics.
Fruits and Vegetables
A diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables helps you get plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet. Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, which benefits the health of your entire digestive system, including your small intestine. Jordan Rubin and Joseph Brasco note in their book, "Restoring Your Digestive Health," that fiber helps your body digest food and expel waste more efficiently. This benefits the small intestine by enabling it to absorb the nutrients your body needs from the foods you eat. Apples, raspberries, beans, peas, carrots and celery are all high-fiber fruits and vegetables, but any variety will help you get more fiber in your diet.
Fish is a healthy source of protein, a nutrient you need for tissue and cell repair and regeneration. A healthy small intestine will help your body take advantage of the amino acids in protein foods by helping you absorb more of them. A well-functioning small intestine will also help you absorb the healthy fats you eat. Choosing fish helps you get more unsaturated, or healthy, fats in your diet while also reducing how much saturated fat you consume. A healthy intake of unsaturated fat will also enable your small intestine to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from your food. Salmon, trout, halibut, tuna and mackerel are all healthy choices.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain beneficial fiber and protein for your small intestine so it is better able to work with the rest of your digestive system and the nutrients from your food and absorb them into your body. Nuts and seeds, particularly walnuts and flaxseed, are also healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps promote a healthy small intestine and digestive system.
- The Doctor's Guide to Gastrointestinal Health; Paul F. Miskovitz and Marian Betancourt
- American Dietetic Association: Probiotics and Digestion
- Restoring Your Digestive Health; Jordan Rubin and Joseph Brasco