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Digestion-Friendly Foods – The Good & The Bad
Over millions of years of evolution our gut has been able to digest just about any type of food we put in our mouth.
But changes in food processing, preparation styles, and lifestyle have been dazzling our stomachs and it does not always react well to everything we eat. As a result we have upset stomach, stomachache, diarrhea, etc. Maybe it is best to avoid some food and embrace some other food for the health of our stomach. Fortunately, nature is full of foods that can ease our digestion. EHC brings you a guide to what is good and what is bad to our digestive system.
The Good Ones
You have trillions of bacteria in your gut that help you digest food, and yogurt contains some types of these healthy bacteria. They replenish the normal flora within the gastrointestinal tract keeping the digestive environment healthy.
Fresh fruits & vegetables
For digestive health, there is simply no substitute for consuming a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fill your fridge with plant-based, low HI (low human intervention) food. An apple should pesticide-free.
Water is the beverage of choice for better digestion. Drink plenty of clean water. After all, there is really no need to tamper with liquid perfection.
Kimchi is a Korean favorite usually made with cabbage, radish, or onion, along with lots of spices. The main ingredient is usually cabbage, which promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Cabbage has a type of fiber that is not digested, so it helps eliminate waste, keeping bowel movements regular.
Lean meat & fish
If you are going to eat meat, go for chicken, fish, and other lean meats—they will go down a lot easier than a juicy steak.
Bananas help restore normal bowel function, especially if you have diarrhea. They restore electrolytes and potassium that may be lost due to runny stool. This fruit also has lots of fiber to aid digestion.
Whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oats, and brown rice, are a good source of fiber, which helps digestion. Fiber also can help you feel full and lower cholesterol, but it can cause bloating, gas, and other problems in people who quickly ramp up their intake—it is better to take it slow when consuming more. And wheat grains are a no-no for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
The Bad Ones
Fried food can overwhelm the stomach, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn. High-fat food also can result in pale-colored stool, a phenomenon called steatorrhea, which is essentially excess fat in the feces. A lot of people with irritable bowel syndrome need to stay away from foods high in fat including butter and cream because they can cause digestive problems.
Coffee, tea, & soft drinks
Coffee, tea, and carbonated beverages not only over-relax the esophageal sphincter, which keeps stomach acid confined to the stomach, but they also can act as diuretics, which can lead to diarrhea and cramping. Caffeinated beverages can be a particular problem, especially for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Processed & heavily refined food
Packaged food that is as white as snow is anything but pure. White bread, rolls, bagels, biscuits and cakes, white rice, white cereal and pasta are examples. But super-refined starch and sugars do not help digestive system. The process of refinement rips out all nutrients contained in them.
You need calcium in your diet, and an easy way to get it is from dairy products such as milk and cheese. But, for the lactose intolerant, these can cause diarrhea, gas, and abdominal bloating and cramps. Lactose intolerance, a common problem, occurs when people don’t make enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose (the sugar found in milk). Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and chemotherapy can damage the intestines, which also can lead to lactose intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant, staying away from dairy is probably your best bet.
Alcohol relaxes the body, but, unfortunately, it also relaxes the esophageal sphincter. This can lead to acid reflux or heartburn. Drinking also can inflame the stomach lining, impairing certain enzymes and preventing nutrients from being absorbed. Too much alcohol can cause diarrhea and cramping, but unless you have a gastrointestinal disorder, moderate amounts of alcohol should not irritate the digestive tract. EHC suggests no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.