I know it’s no revelation to anyone who has experienced a spinal cord injury that this type of neurological damage can significantly affect one’s elimination function. But what many people don’t realize is just how much their digestive function is also affected. A spinal cord injury alters our peristalsis, the involuntary contraction of smooth muscles that propels food through our digestive tract. Not only does this compromised peristalsis function affect how our food is digested and absorbed, but as many of us have experienced, it can also contribute to bloating, abdominal discomfort, indigestion and gas — the last of which can leave us feeling a little less than fresh. But despair not! There are many wonderful, natural foods that can help relieve these symptoms, and one delicious herb in particular we’d like to share.
For thousands of years mint has been used as a remedy for reducing uncomfortable symptoms related to digestion. The medicinal properties of this refreshing herb can help alleviate indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence, and nausea.
What’s even more fantastic about this delicious and powerful little plant is it can be enjoyed in so many appetizing ways! Toss a few fresh leaves into a cup of hot water to make a relaxing tea, liven up any salad by adding in a few sprigs, or try this amazing mint dip — one of our personal favorites.
Now is an especially good time to grow or buy mint, which thrives in the spring. It is a perennial plant that is easy to grow outdoors in most parts of the United States (as long as winters stay above -30F) and can also be grown indoors year-round. If you’re not the gardening type or you just can’t wait, get out to your local grocer and pick up a garden-fresh bundle or two and help keep you and your digestive system feeling equally as fresh!
Joanne Smith and Kylie James are co-authors of the book, Eat Well, Live Well with SCI and Other Neurological Conditions. For more information on nutrition for neurological injuries go to www.eatwelllivewellwithsci.com.