For proper digestion to occur, we need good working muscles, organs and a well-functioning gut. Lemons are an excellent digestive food; they help clean the liver, support immunity and provide the right amount of pH to keep the gut working at its best.

We hear different things about acid and alkaline foods. To keep it simple, lemons are the right acidic environment for guts that do not contain the right amount of acid. When we have acid reflux, for example, our guts are not at the right pH. Lemons help keep our guts neutralized at the proper pH levels.

Of course, this may vary with certain individuals whose environment may be too acidic. For those whose systems are affected by long-term high acidity lemon may not feel good to some, especially those who have lost total sphincter function. Our sphincters are like a little doorway that prevents acid from regurgitating back up our throats.

Many reflux cases, however, especially early on, have been shown to be cases of low acid levels in the gut. In cases, such as h pylori, this may be the case.

Apples are another food that is great for digestion. The BRAT diet — which consists of bananas, rice, apples and toast — is fed to people after surgeries or who have any stomach upsets.

Aside from keeping the doctor away, apples contain both pectin and butyric acid, which are wonderful nourishers for the gut. Pectin contains fiber and butyric acid contains short chain fatty acids that help convert prebiotics for feeding of the colonic bacteria, producing our healthy bacteria. Medical experts say our colon pH should vary between 6.9 and 7.4.

Dairy products are a third food to include. Dairy products contain butyric acid and calcium that help to feed the bacteria and neutralize the gut, respectively. The butyric acid helps to feed the gut and the calcium is responsible for contributing to our colonic pH.

Two super types of dairy products include yogurt and kefir. These two products have triple benefit with the addition of probiotics. They contain three nutrients that help with digestion, namely butyric acid, calcium and probiotics. The addition of probiotics to yogurt has been shown to increase the shelf life of the butyric acid, thus allowing us to utilize the benefits longer.

In addition to benefiting the gut, these and other health foods benefit muscles and organs that in union help to keep us healthy.

— Marcy DiGregorio is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who loves helping people with their nutritional needs, enjoys cooking, and also teaches yoga. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.