The One Food You Should Stop Eating Regularly If You Struggle With Digestion, According To Dietitians
Having digestive dysfunction can be very frustrating and painful. Bloating, heartburn, uncontrollable weight gain and weight loss—besides being uncomfortable, it can be difficult to find the cause. Typically digestive discomfort is derived from a particular food or food group, but weeding out the culprit can feel like a hopeless task. There are some foods that are common causes of digestive issues—what foods should you try avoiding, especially if you’re prone to indigestion to begin with? We asked health experts what common irritants to the digestive tract they notice, and what you should add to your diet to ease your symptoms.
Surprisingly, if you already have a sensitive stomach, fiber may be making it worse. We always hear that fiber is good for a healthy gut, but like anything, too much of it can be harmful as it puts your digestive system into overdrive. “What commonly causes stomach discomfort is gassy foods like lots of raw vegetables and too much fiber, or foods you don’t tolerate well,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. Working your digestive system too hard can cause it to not work properly—specific foods that fall into this category are broccoli, cauliflower, and lentils. In some cases, gluten and dairy can also cause symptoms, but that typically is caused by an intolerance. To determine if this applies to you, you should see your doctor and consult them about getting the necessary tests done.
Beyond what foods you’re eating, how you’re eating them can also cause symptoms, particularly foods that are canned. “The main issue is what was added to the foods when they are put in the can. For example, a can of tomatoes with 1 ingredient, tomatoes, that’s a good choice. But many times salt is added for both preserving and upping the flavor.” Says Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center. These additives can cause bloating, which can be a sign that your body isn’t digesting food properly.
Aside from knowing what foods to avoid, knowing what foods are easy on your digestive system is equally important. When your digestive tract has to work harder, it can leave you feeling drained of energy. Eating foods that provide steady energy is crucial. “Two foods you can eat to keep you from feeling sluggish are leafy greens and sweet potatoes,” Says Anna Glennon, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. These foods boost your gut health, which will make your digestive system work better. “The leafy greens give you magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, that can also help keep your digestion moving.” Beyond magnesium and sustainable energy, these foods are also rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics are compounds in food that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria, which balances your gut microbiome. Other foods you can eat that may help your digestion are yogurt, apples, and papaya.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no one size fits all when it comes to your digestive health. Everyone’s body is different, which means that the foods that affect others, may not affect you. The foods mentioned above are common irritants, but may not be necessary for you to cut out to find relief. If you think that you may have any intolerances or triggers, you should see your doctor about what dietary changes you can and should make.