When you find yourself battling digestion issues, the first thing to evaluate is your diet. Many times, a simple adjustment in food intake can help regulate your digestion without adding synthetic medications to your daily routine. Review the following list of foods to see if what you’re eating might be harming your digestion.
1. Frozen Dinners
Any time there is a high concentration of fat and salt but low fiber content, such as in frozen dinners and preserved meals, you’re more likely to experience digestion difficulties. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should ingest approximately 25-38 grams of fiber daily. Diets that primarily include heat-and-eat frozen meals can lead to digestion problems, as the nutrient content compared to fresh foods is low.
2. Dairy Products
Of all food groups, dairy is perhaps the least conspicuous when it comes to fat. After all, dairy products have healthy aspects also, like the healthy bacteria found in yogurt or the calcium content of milk. Unfortunately, the fat found in most dairy products can negatively impact digestion. A 2013 study published in the Annals of Translational Medicine explored the relationship between a high fat diet and digestive health. Researchers found that individuals with high fat diets experienced digestive disturbances more frequently than those on a balanced diet.
Despite it being one of the most prized foods in the world, chocolate is blamed for causing digestive problems in individuals. Along with black tea and bananas, chocolate is believed to hamper proper digestion and cause intestinal discomfort, according to a 2005 study published in European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Particularly for individuals prone to irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive disturbances, consuming chocolate is not recommended.
4. Salty Snacks
Like processed foods, salty snacks can sap your body’s ability to remain adequately hydrated, particularly if you’re not consuming enough water throughout the day. When not balanced with plenty of fluids, chips, nuts, and salty crackers can inhibit maintenance of internal sodium levels, affecting your digestive system’s ability to efficiently process food. According to a 2003 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, even mild dehydration can impact digestive health. Offset the negative digestive effects of salty foods by drinking at least 64oz of water daily.
Whether you’re a fan of cookies, cakes, or pies, sweets can compromise your body’s ability to digest foods properly. The reason is threefold; sweets usually have high carbohydrate counts, low fiber, and a high fat content. Combined, these attributes can result in irregular bowel movements and digestive discomfort, according to the National Institute on Aging.
6. Unripened Bananas
Bananas are packed with nutrients, portable, and affordable, making them one of the most consumed fruits in the world. Unfortunately, failing to have patience during the ripening process can lead to severe digestive health issues. According to the Digestive Health Institute, unripened bananas contain resistant starch, which impairs the digestive process. Avoid harming your digestion by waiting until bananas are yellow with hints of brown on the skin.
7. Fatty Red Meat
Overeating any food can be detrimental to your health, but eating fatty red meat in abundance can lead to serious digestive problems. Specifically, the fat content in red meat, when disproportionate to fiber intake, can slow digestion and lead to intestinal discomfort. Because red meat is generally thick and sinew, proper digestion takes longer to occur, potentially impacting regularity according to Harvard Medical School.
8. White Bread and Pasta
Eating white bread and pasta may not affect digestion right away, but the relative lack of fiber in each can impact your digestive health. According to Harvard School of Public Health, substituting pasta and white bread with whole grain bread and pasta increases intake of dietary fiber, which is proven to enhance digestion.
Eat Healthy to Avoid Digestive Problems
To keep your digestive system in tip top shape, drink water, eat fresh foods, and limit intake of sugar and fat. But, don’t feel like you can’t enjoy food! Eat what you like in moderation while balancing your diet with high fiber, nutrient-rich foods.
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