Food and Digestive Health
Our stomach is the prime indicator of our health. The gut flora is responsible for assimilating our food in our bodies but it also decides the levels of inflammation and immunity we will have. How much you weigh, the presence of acid reflux and digestive issues are all decided by the bacteria in the gut. And what we eat has more repercussions than we can imagine. Not eating right can lead to many problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD), constipation or diarrhea.
And this ‘not eating right’ phenomenon worsens during the festive season! As the New Year approaches, all healthy diets will be forgotten as party plans arise! Nevertheless, let’s take a look at:
10 Worst Foods for Digestive Health
- Carb-dense Foods
Consuming carbohydrate-rich food can lead to long-term health damage as it causes an increase in inflammation and transforms the gut flora. For example, potatoes might be considered carb-dense food but they are predominantly made of water. Rice, pasta, pretzels, bagels or doughnuts are more harmful to the body as they are intensely carb rich.
- Fried Food
Fried food should be a strict no-no as it harms the body at various levels. Not only does it add to the pounds on the body but also it is hard to digest. Since the body finds it hard to digest them, they may move through the intestines without being broken down and cause diarrhea or bloating. The fiber content of most fried foods is low and that makes them hard to digest. They may even cause constipation. If you are undergoing a tough digestive time, put low-fat, nonfried food on the menu to restore your gut health. Even those foods that are rich in fat should be cut out from your eat-list. Items like ice cream, steaks, French fries, and others are tough to digest and can leave you feeling uncomfortable and full.
- Processed Food
Processed foods are one of the worst culprits when it comes to our health. They have zero nutritional value, lack of fiber and irritate the gut with the presence of unnecessary additives and preservatives. Some of them may also contain lactose which can add to your digestive woes. Not only do the processed foods increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart problems, apart from obesity, but they also cause gas, bloating and cramping. If you cannot completely avoid processed foods, pair them with a lean protein or some other food item that gets digested slowly to increase their nutritional value and to reduce tummy troubles.
- Spicy Food
Spices are added to food to stimulate the digestive system. But for some people, they have an adverse effect as they might have heightened sensitivity towards spices. Many people experience gas, bloating, heartburn, acid reflux, and even stomach ache with an increased spice intake. Spicy food items must specifically be avoided close to bedtime.
- Artificial Sweeteners
The most common stomach irritant among artificial sweeteners is sorbitol. It is found naturally in some fruits like apples, prunes, and peaches. Added to sweeten chewing gum and diet foods, sorbitol causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Artificial sweeteners increase inflammation in the body and could give rise to many other health problems. They are even responsible for increasing the belly fat in some people.
- Raw Vegetables
Beware, vegetables too make it to the list of ‘worst foods for digestive health list’ list! Yes, raw vegetables are good for the health and most nutritionists have gone hoarse speaking about their benefits but the key is moderation. Since raw vegetables are rich in fiber, the insoluble kinds, they can give rise to gas, bloating, diarrhea and other such stomach problems.
For those with a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, digesting such fiber-laden produce becomes difficult. They can gorge on stir-fried or steamed veggies as cooking them breaks down their fiber and makes them easier on the stomach.
Alcohol is bad for the stomach and the liver. It is toxic to the body and causes severe health problems like cirrhosis and addiction. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can relax the esophageal sphincter and could cause heartburn and acid reflux. In high amounts, it can cause inflammation of the stomach lining, cramps, and diarrhea. Moreover, alcohol has just empty calories and it slows down the fat metabolizing processes in the body.
For those who cannot function without their daily cup of coffee, this is bad news but too much caffeine is harmful to your digestive system. It increases gastrointestinal tract motility and this reduces the time food spends in the gut. This leads to diarrhea and low nutrition levels. Since it is a diuretic, it can cause dehydration and therefore lead to constipation. Also, caffeine leads to increased acid production in the stomach. Someone who is undergoing tummy troubles should stay away from caffeine in colas, chocolates, and even tea. Limit your coffee intake and preferably don’t have it on an empty stomach.
- Dairy Products
Milk and milk products are tough to digest for everyone, more so for some than others. This is due to the presence of Lactose, a kind of sugar found in dairy products. When someone is unable to digest this food group, they develop gas, bloating and in some cases nausea even. Consuming too many dairy products can lead to diarrhea as they enter the large intestine and entertain it. To make up for the lost nutrition due to avoiding dairy products, one could consume yogurt and hard cheeses as they do not have lactose present in them.
- Acidic Foods
Food items like tomato sauce, citrus fruits like oranges, sweet lime, lemons, and limes have an acidic nature. They cause irritation to the stomach lining and disturb the gut environment. Even colas and carbonated beverages can cause gas and bloating. Acidic foods must be avoided generally in too large quantities especially more so when one has a stomach upset or diarrhea as they can irritate the body further.
Even the healthy food options may not be entirely free from trappings and you will be surprised to see them on the ‘worst foods for digestive health’ list! If you have been eating healthy and are still experiencing digestive issues, you need to relook at how your food choices are troubling your stomach. Make intelligent food choices to help your body stay healthy and feel light. Try to reduce inflammation increasing food items to avoid many lifestyle diseases.