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13 Foods That Are Difficult To Digest!

By Nikita Banerjee +2 more


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 diarrhoea.

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:

Foods that are hard to digest

13 Hard To Digest Foods

1. 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.

2. 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 diarrhoea or bloating. The fibre 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.

3. Processed Food

Processed foods are one of the worst culprits when it comes to our health. They have zero nutritional value, lack fibre 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.

I strongly recommend consuming dairy products that are low in fat, are easier to digest and may immensely aid those with poor digestion. These include skimmed milk, powdered milk, evaporated milk, cheese, yoghurt, and cottage cheese.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

4. 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.

5. 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 diarrhoea. 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.

6. High Fibre Foods

Food that is high in fibre can be difficult to digest since the stomach needs more effort to break it down. High fibre food includes raw vegetables, lentils, beans and brown rice.

Even vegetables make it to the list of ‘worst foods for digestive health list’ Yes, raw vegetables are good for your health and most nutritionists have gone hoarse speaking about their benefits but the key is moderation. Since raw vegetables are rich in fibre, the insoluble kinds, they can give rise to gas, bloating, diarrhoea and other such stomach problems. Lentils should also be consumed in moderation since they can get difficult to digest.
For those with a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, digesting such fibre-laden produce becomes difficult. They can gorge on stir-fried or steamed veggies as cooking them breaks down their fibre and makes them easier on the stomach.

According to popular belief, it’s a good idea to increase your fibre intake as it facilitates digestion and staves off constipation. However, I recommend keeping your fibre intake to a maximum of 30g per day. Studies show it is difficult to digest and an overload of fibre in your system can give you more trouble than comfort!

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Also Read: Are Grits Healthy? A Comprehensive Nutritional Analysis

7. Alcohol

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 oesophagal sphincter and could cause heartburn and acid reflux. In high amounts, it can cause inflammation of the stomach lining, cramps and diarrhoea. Moreover, alcohol has just empty calories and it slows down the fat metabolizing processes in the body.

8. Coffee

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 diarrhoea 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.

Also Read: Impact Of Caffeine Overdose You Should Know!

9. 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 diarrhoea as they enter in the large intestine and entertain it. To make up for the lost nutrition due to avoiding dairy products, one could consume yoghurt and hard cheese as they do not have lactose present in them.

Also Read: 6 Best Lactose-Free Substitutes For Regular Milk

10. 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 bloat. Acidic foods must be avoided generally in too large quantities especially more so when one has a stomach upset or diarrhoea as they can irritate the body further. 

11. High Fructose Foods

Foods that are artificially sweetened with fructose including fruit juice, sodas and pastries cause bloating and gas and can be difficult for people to digest. If consumed too much can lead to diarrhoea and cramping. 

12. Peppermint

Although peppermint is consumed by people for a burst of freshness after having a meal it is also responsible for doing just the opposite which is causing heartburn. It relaxes the muscles which are situated at the top of your stomach, causing the food to move back in your oesophagus. 

The best way to lower the pressure created by food that pushes back is when meals are consumed in small portion sizes, the excess weight is shed and you do not lie down immediately after eating. 

13. Corn

People love too much crispy corn and corn chaat during parties or festive occasions. They are tasty and a hit amongst people of all ages. But then at night or in the morning, you might have noticed a few corn kernels in your stools and probably wondered why that happened. Well, here is the answer. Corn is made up of cellulose and the human body does not have the right enzymes to break it down. This makes it difficult for the digestive system to fully break down corn and can sometimes lead to gas and bloating.

Facing digestion issues? Here’s the best kit to support your digestive system


Although some food can be difficult to digest, it does not mean that they are harmful. Food that is rich in fibre is essential for maintaining the proper formation of stool. Food like cabbage and beans can also aid your weight loss journey. The key is to consume in moderation and according to the signals of your body. 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. If you feel that certain food causes digestion issues, you should avoid them.

Also Read: Opting For Healthy Noodles: A Comprehensive Guide

Also Read: 15 Reasons Why Spinach Is Called A Superfood

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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E Manohar

Very useful message for all.

Ashir Sahal

Thank you. Please stay tuned for more such articles.