When you have stomach problems such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, it’s natural to blame it on the foods you eat. Indeed, certain foods – even ones that are healthy – can be difficult to digest. This is particularly true for people with certain diseases and health conditions.
Experience stomach pain or irregular bowel movements after eating? Try cutting these eight foods or beverages that can wreak havoc on your gut health from your diet.
Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy products. Lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest lactose after infancy, affects 65% of the world’s population. 1 Some ethnic groups have an even higher percentage of lactose intolerance. That means the majority of people can’t properly digest milk. Despite this fact, many cultures have a close relationship with dairy products. This can leave people suffering from the symptoms of lactose intolerance, including bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flatulence.
If you experience these gut issues, cutting dairy out of your diet may help. Some people with mild lactose intolerance can eat yogurt, cheese, and lactose-free dairy products without problems.
2. Fried Food
It’s no surprise greasy fast foods like French fries and fried chicken are bad for your health. These foods can also cause digestive complaints, such as heartburn and acid reflux. 2 The fats in fried foods make them hard to digest. 3 Many fried foods contain trans fats, which have no nutritional value. Fried foods can also serve as triggers for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of IBS include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, and constipation. 4
Many people complain of stomach discomfort and gas when they eat beans. The human body does not contain the necessary enzyme to completely digest the complex sugars found in beans, which can cause stomach issues. 5 This is unfortunate, because beans are healthy in many other ways. They are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. To aid digestion, try eating sprouted beans, or soaking them longer before cooking them.
4. Refined Grains
Your gut microbiota is a complex network of microscopic organisms living in your gut. For optimum health, you need a wide variety of microbiota. These microorganisms affect your immune system, disease resistance, ability to absorb nutrients, and much more.
Researchers from Tufts University conducted a study to see the effects of refined and whole grains on gut microbiota.6 Refined grains are those that have been altered by the removal of bran and germ to become white flour. Whole grains are not altered and are high in fiber. The study found that participants eating whole grains had a more diverse gut microbiota, including markers for better immunity and less inflammation. The USDA recommends making at least half of the grains you eat whole grains. 7
5. Spicy Foods
Many people find they can’t tolerate spicy foods, including foods made with hot peppers, onions, and garlic. The most common complaints include heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach pain. 8 If spiciness in foods triggers issues, it’s best to avoid them in your diet to keep your gut calm.
Note: For those who can handle the spiciness, these foods may actually help with digestion. Spices have been found to stimulate the liver to help with fat digestion and stimulate enzyme activities associated with digestion. 9
Blaming gluten for digestive issues is trendy, but for some people, eating gluten can make them very uncomfortable. People who should not eat gluten include those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is a condition in which the small intestine is damaged when you eat gluten, a protein found in wheat. Symptoms of Celiac disease include chronic diarrhea, nausea, bloating, constipation, gas, and other gut irritations. An estimated one in 144 Americans suffers from Celiac disease. 10
Another 18 million Americans are estimated to have non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. 11 The difference between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is that Celiac disease damages the small intestine, while gluten sensitivity does not. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are often similar to those of Celiac disease, but less severe. If you think you have Celiac disease, ask your doctor to test you for the condition.
Coffee is a very popular drink, but it may have some adverse effects on your gut health. It can cause your stomach to produce too much acid, which can be irritating. 12 It can also promote your colon to push food through your digestive system too quickly, which could result in diarrhea. 13 Finally, coffee can irritate your bladder, causing you to have urinary problems, such as having to visit the bathroom frequently or incontinence. 14 People with many types of stomach problems, such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, or acid reflux, should not drink coffee.
8. Acidic Fruits
Eating acidic fruits, such as tomatoes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit, can give some people heartburn. While healthy, these fruits can irritate your stomach lining if you eat too much of them, particularly without other foods. 15 Some fruits that are easier to digest include bananas, cantaloupe, apricots, and peaches. 16
The foods you eat can have a big impact on your health – and your gut. If you suspect a certain food is triggering your stomach issues, avoid it. If you aren’t sure which foods are causing problems, keep a food diary of what you eat and how you feel. Cutting just one problem food or drink out at a time can vastly improve stomach issues. By controlling the foods you eat, you can without a doubt better manage gut irritation.
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5. Megan LD. “Black Beans: Health Benefits, Facts, Research”. Medical News Today. N.p., 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
6. “Eating Whole Grains Led To Modest Improvements In Gut Microbiota And Immune Response”. ScienceDaily. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
7. “Myplate”. Choose MyPlate. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
8. “Good Foods To Help Your Digestion – Live Well – NHS Choices”. Nhs.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
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11. “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity | Beyondceliac.Org”. Beyondceliac.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
12. Börger HW, et al. “[The Influence Of Coffee And Caffeine On Gastrin And Acid Secretion In Man (Author’s Transl)]. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 1976. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
13. Rao SS, et al. “Is Coffee A Colonic Stimulant? – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 1998. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
14.”Bladder Control Problems In Women: Lifestyle Strategies For Relief – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
15. Khodadadian, Dr. “10 Worst Foods For Digestive Health | Blog | Manhattan Gastroenterology”. Manhattan Gastroenterology. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
16. “List Of Easy To Digest Foods”. Healthguidance.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.