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This great guest post was written by Jenny Robertson, a registered holistic nutritionist! I encourage you to go check out her website

Okra is one of those vegetables that most people don’t think of adding to their weekly grocery list, partly because it’s not well known and partly because most people just don’t know how to incorporate it into their favourite recipes.

Okra is a perennial flowering plant that is grown throughout tropical and warm regions; the pod is the edible part of the plant that is high in fibre and important vitamins and minerals.

It’s one vegetable that is always on my list and one that I regularly suggest to others; especially those who are dealing with the pain and discomfort associated with a stomach ulcer. Okra has a rich source of anti-oxidants, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese and it is also an excellent demulcent; the reason it is so beneficial for anyone with a stomach ulcer.

What is a Stomach Ulcer?

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A stomach ulcer is a sore or lesion that develops on the stomach lining. In a healthy stomach there is a thick layer of mucous that lines the inner walls and provides protection from the strong acids inside which help to break down our food during digestion.

When a stomach ulcer develops, the mucous lining gets weaker and weaker and it no longer provides protection from those strong acids, damaging the wall of the stomach. The use of NSAIDS such as aspirin and Advil, the presence of a bacterium called H. pylori, smoking, the consumption of irritating foods such as caffeine, refined and processed items, trans fats, unhealthy oils and allergens all contribute to the development of stomach ulcers.

The burning stomach pain they bring at night or a few hours after eating causes many to seek medical attention and medication that will bring some relief from the discomfort. The usual medical treatment is an acid suppressing medication such as antacids or a proton pump inhibitor.

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Although these medications may bring relief of the symptoms they do nothing to improve the health of the lining of the stomach; in fact they further impair digestion, which only perpetuates the problem and leads to a whole host of other health implications.

The Healthy Alternative to Medications

Instead of attempting to reduce or eliminate stomach acid secretions we should be increasing our consumption of items that will help to heal the lining of the stomach while reducing our consumption of items that will damage and further aggravate the lining of the stomach.

We want to add more food items that have a soothing coat or film that will help to repair/heal the cells and provide relief from pain and inflammation; foods such as Okra.

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The Many Benefits of Okra

  • Okra is a great source of fibre that will help to prevent constipation, support good colon health and lower cholesterol
  • Okra is an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamins that are essential to maintain good eye and heart health, for the protection from harmful free radicals and to help our body develop immunity against infections
  • Okra is a rich source of the B-complex vitamins like niacin, B-6, thiamine and folic acid (folate) that are important for the proper functioning of many body systems including the gastrointestinal system.

What To Look For When Purchasing Okra

  • Fresh Okra will have a bright green color, the pods should be tender and moist with a covering that is similar to peach fuzz. The larger the pod the tougher and more fibrous they will be; you will enjoy the texture and taste of the smaller pods better.
  • Okra is best stored in your refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag and best enjoyed within 3-4 days of purchase.

Ways To Enjoy Okra

  • Okra can be enjoyed all on its own or as an addition to a great stir-fry; simply wash them under cold water, remove both ends of the pod and cut into slices. Okra tends to have a gelatinous consistency to it; you can reduce this by cooking it with an acidic vegetable such as tomato.
  • Okra can be enjoyed in many great recipes such as this okra curry recipe that is also dairy, gluten, refined oil and refined sugar free.

What Else Can Help?

  • Drinking raw cabbage juice can help to repair/heal the stomach lining
  • Probiotics such as yogurt and kefir can help to rebuild the stomach lining and can help to inhibit the growth of H. pylori bacterium if present
  • Adding garlic to your recipes for the anti-parasitic and anti-microbial properties
  • Adding ginger to your recipes for the anti-inflammatory properties
  • Chamomile, Aloe Vera or licorice root are all good additions and can help to soothe the lining of the stomach and speed the healing process.
  • A diet high in fiber and low in sugar can help to reduce the likelihood of developing an ulcer

In Closing

Stomach ulcers are common; with an estimated 5 million Americans being diagnosed with one each year they place an enormous strain and expense on the healthcare system. The serious implications they have on ones overall health and wellness makes it imperative that we are incorporating strategies to prevent them from occurring in the first place and that we are incorporating strategies that promote the healing process when they do occur.

References

http://www.cdhf.ca/en/disorders/details/id/16

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1867922

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20735925

http://journals.lww.com/jcge/Abstract/1997/01000/Meta_analysis_of_Risk_Factors_for_Peptic_Ulcer_.2.aspx

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/1001/p1005.html#afp20071001p1005-b1

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/demulcent

Image Sources:

http://tomatotango.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/okra-sliced_620px1.jpg

 

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Jenny Robertson
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Jenny Robertson is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from a small Town North of Toronto. She offers Assessments, Consultations and Education Sessions/Seminars locally and remotely via telephone and Skype. She places an emphasis on natural, local and nutrient dense food choices for optimal health and wellness and strives to provide each person with the best services possible to meet their individual and unique needs. Jenny also draws on over 20 years of experience in developmental disability, mental health and addiction services. For more information about Jenny and the services she provides please visit www.balancedwithjenny.com
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