Blog The Best and Worst Foods for Your Digestive Health


The Best and Worst Foods for Your Digestive Health

  • by jHodgson
  • December 4, 2012

Abdominal cramps, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea – we’ve all been there. Did you know that there are foods that can help avoid these symptoms, and foods that can exacerbate them? Let’s take a look at some of the key players for digestive health:


The Best:


1. Whole grains: whole grain sources such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and rolled oats contain lots of fiber, which helps clean out your digestive system and keeps it running smoothly.


2. Bananas: In general, most fruits and vegetables are good for digestion. Bananas, however, are particularly good in that they do not irritate the stomach. Folks experiencing symptoms of digestion might find it particularly helpful to eat a banana in that they will help provide nourishment, without causing further stomach upset.


3. Water: Even though water is not technically a food item, it helps speed up the digestive process by moving food through the intestines.


4. Ginger: Remember when you were a kid and your mom gave you gingerale to calm an upset stomach? Well she was right! Spices like ginger, tumeric, and peppermint are great for relieving an upset  stomach. Rather than drinking sugary ginerale, try sipping on ginger or peppermint tea, or even sucking on a peppermint lozenge.


5. Probiotics: Probiotic foods such as yogurt contain beneficial bacteria, which helps crowd out any bad bacteria in your digestive tract. The best probiotic foods are ones that contain live bacteria, which can be found in yogurt and kefir.


6. Prebiotics: We just learned about probiotics above, and foods that contain prebiotics actually contain a type of fiber that feeds the probiotic foods. Along with probiotics, these foods promote the growth of healthy bacteria in our digestive tracts. Examples of these foods include asparagus, onions, lentils, and whole grains.


The Worst:


1. Spicy foods: While they sure are tasty, spicy foods can be one of the worst things to eat when you have an upset stomach. These foods are known as gastric stimulates, which stir things up in your tummy and can cause symptoms of gastric reflux.


2. Caffeine: Coffee drinkers beware! Much like spicy foods, caffeine can also contribute to symptoms of gastric reflux.


3. Soda: During times of stomach distress, many of us have turned to soda in believing that the bubbles may help settle an angry tummy. Turns out that soda is very acidic, and acid can cause gastric reflux, just like caffeine and spicy foods.


4. High Fat Foods: Foods that contain a lot of saturated fats, like bacon and sausage, slow down the digestive process and can induce symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn and diarrhea. One effective but unpleasant way to tell if you’re getting too much fat is to look at your stool after you’ve gone #2. If your stool floats to the top of the toilet, you may want to cut back on your intake of fatty foods.


5. Alcohol: Much like caffeine, spicy foods, and soda, alcohol can also lead to symptoms of gastric reflux. Even worse, too much alcohol can lead to stomach inflammation, which only makes matters worse.


6. Dairy: Dairy foods other than yogurt can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort, particularly in people with a lactose intolerance.


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