Eating easily digestible foods is one way to make sure that your digestive system gets a break and can function more smoothly. The digestive system is so important for your overall health and wellbeing that it’s in your best interest to keep it functioning at its best with foods that you tolerate well. Some foods are notorious for being difficult to digest, while others rate as being easily digested and passed through the system, or even improving your digestion by providing important bacteria it needs, as well as fiber to help balance out foods that don’t contain any fiber at all.
Here we outline the ten best foods you can eat for improved digestion, as well as spell out which foods have been known to muck up the digestive system when consumed.
Even though yogurt is a dairy product, and dairy products can cause stomach upset in those with lactose sensitivity, it is well tolerated by most and offers benefits to the digestive system not found in most foods.
There are basically two types of yogurt you can go with, regular and Greek. Greek yogurt is regular yogurt that has been strained to remove the whey. It has a thicker consistency and a different flavor. Try each to see which you prefer.
In addition to the probiotics yogurt contains, it is also a good source of protein and calcium. If you go with Greek yogurt you’ll be getting even more protein per ounce, and it still contains the live cultures that yogurt does.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: You’ll want to buy plain yogurt without the added fruit, as in most prepared yogurts that means more sugar, or artificial sweeteners if they’re labeled as light. See which type of yogurt is best for you to digest, full fat, low-fat, or non-fat.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that is not only easy to digest but can improve your body’s ability to digest the other foods eaten in a meal.
It’s the lactic acid bacteria that works the digestive magic once you eat it. Your digestive system relies on a healthy supply of good bacteria, and sauerkraut helps add to those digestive bacteria.
There are several types of sauerkraut, and as long as they’ve been fermented they should help with your digestion. They’ll all be made with cabbage, as that’s built right into the name, so you’ll be getting the nutritious properties of cabbage no matter which style you go with.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Making your own sauerkraut is not as hard as it seems, and is a great way to ensure it contains quality ingredients, like organic cabbage. Several recipes exist for making sauerkraut, just be sure to make a big batch so it will last you through many meals.
Kimchi is a staple at most meals in Korean cuisine, and it has an almost revered status in Korean culture as being good for your health.
While it is spicy, it is meant to help improve your digestion thanks to the fermentation process, which can take months when prepared according to tradition. There are even special kimchi refrigerators that keep it at the right temperature to ensure proper fermentation.
While kimchi is sometimes incorporated into main dishes like soups, chowders, and Korean pancakes, it is most often served as an accompaniment to the main meal, almost serving as a palate cleanser. You can adopt this tradition and reap the benefits of an improved digestion.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: You can find authentic kimchi on sale at most Asian food marts, and it’s not very expensive so you can try out a few different types and see which one you like most. The most popular kimchi is made from cabbage and comes in varying degrees of spiciness.
4. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast and other lean proteins are generally well accepted by the digestive system when eaten in reasonable quantities.
Other lean meats provide the same quality, so you can choose lean pork, lean beef, and lean turkey. These meats provide minerals and vitamins as well as protein, so you’re getting a wholesome food with little chance at upsetting your stomach as long as you cook them properly, see below for best preparation methods.
Chicken breast is one of the highest sources of protein out there, but it doesn’t contain any fiber, so you’ll want to make sure you eat a food high in fiber along with your chicken so that your digestive system can easily move the chicken through.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Baked, boiled, or grilled is the best way to prepare chicken breast. Avoid frying it, as this only adds more oil to the process which can upset your stomach and make the chicken harder to digest.
5. Brown Rice
Add a side of brown rice to your plate and you’ll be getting a satisfying carbohydrate that provides fiber and may represent a better digestive option than ordinary white rice.
White rice is also a food that has a good track record for easy digestion, but can sometimes cause constipation, gas, or diarrhea.
Whole grain breads and pasta are also a better choice when it comes to digestibility than their white counterparts. The enriched flour used in white bread and traditional pasta has been known to be a digestive problem for some.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Traditionally prepared brown rice is the best way to go, as it comes out light and fluffy and easy to eat.
Few digestive complaints have been lodged regarding salmon, and it is one fish that is recommended by most health experts and many diet programs for its high protein content and omega-3s.
Salmon is not the only fish that is easy to digest. Most white fish is a good option for those looking to go easy on their digestive system. This is a lighter fish that’s less oily. You won’t get as many omega-3s from a non-oily fish in general, but they’ll still provide a good amount of protein, while being low in fat and cholesterol.
Salmon often gets credit for the high amounts of omega-3s it contains, and that makes it one of the most important foods on our list of foods that are easy to digest.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Baked salmon is easiest on the digestion, and when paired with a baked sweet potato and a steamed veggie you’re looking at a wholesome, easy-to-digest, well-balanced meal.
Bananas have been with us since the dawn of human history, and are one food that we have been eating for tens of thousands of years. They are one of the most natural foods for us, and they rarely present a problem in terms of digestion.
Many other fruits are easy to digest as well, but you’ll want to steer away from berries if you’ve been experiencing digestive difficulties. Even though berries are generally loaded with antioxidants and fiber, they’ve been known to cause digestive trouble for those with a sensitive system.
Bananas are famous for the potassium they provide, and they are also a good source of fiber, with one banana providing the same daily value of fiber as it does potassium at 12%. It’s also a surprisingly good source of Vitamin C, providing 17% of your daily Vitamin C needs.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Peeling and eating a banana is the easiest and most natural way to eat it, and offers the best chance that it will not disrupt your digestion. The more you cook the banana or combine it with other foods, the bigger the chance of making it harder to digest.
Eggs are a food that is well tolerated by most, and you can eat both the yolk and the white, as they are both high in minerals and protein.
Chicken eggs aren’t the only eggs that are easy to digest. If you haven’t tried duck eggs it may be worth seeking them out. These are generally larger and provide more nutrition than chicken eggs, while being just as easy on the digestive system.
By eating the entire egg you’ll be getting more minerals than you would if you just at the white. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to avoid the yolks, but if you’re at a healthy weight you should eat the entire egg for the nourishment the yolks provide.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Scrambled or boiled eggs seem to be the best tolerated form of eggs, with fried eggs being the hardest to digest because of the added oil.
Oatmeal is one start to your morning that won’t derail the rest of your day due to digestive problems.
The fiber content of oatmeal is credited for its easy digestibility. It also provides a cholesterol lowering effect, and will give you energy to power you through your morning.
Avoid the instant oatmeal that comes in packets and in different flavors. Stick with traditional oats and make your own oatmeal flavoring it with all natural fruits, pure maple syrup, pecans and other nuts. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to replace artificial ingredients with all-natural real foods.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Slow-cooked oatmeal made the traditional way is the best way to go, as instant oatmeal does not seem to be as easily digested. Try steel cut oats for even easier digestion.
Avocados are easy on the stomach, and have a nice texture that makes them a breeze to chew up and start the digestive process. On that note, be sure to chew all of your food until it’s been properly broken down. This is a hard habit to start, but once you’ve established it you’ll notice an improved digestion.
You can add avocado to just about any meal as a sort of garnish. While they’re available year round, the best time to eat them is the summer and winter months.
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, and potassium, so in addition to being an easily digested food, they will provide you with several things you body needs each day.
How to prepare it for easier digestion: Mashing avocado, such as for use in guacamole, makes this even more easy to digest, but eating it whole is fine too, as there’s no wrong way to eat an avocado when it comes to digestion.
5 Foods Known to Be Difficult to Digest
Many adult Americans have shown signs of having at least some difficulty eating dairy products, either through diagnosed or undiagnosed lactose intolerance, or a sensitivity to lactose. One way to check if dairy is an issue for you is to exclude it from your diet for a period of time and then introduce it back in. One week would be a minimum, if you can go without it for a month this would give you a better idea of what your digestive system is like with and without dairy. The same strategy can be used with any food that you are suspicious of.
Grains have been facing increased scrutiny in recent years, with the rise of gluten-free diets as well as the Paleo Diet. Gluten in wheat has been singled out as being a problem for those with Crohn’s disease, and some simply follow a gluten-free diet to maintain a healthy weight because they are unable to process the gluten and have at the least a sensitivity to it. Followers of the Paleo Diet point out that grains are a somewhat recent addition to the human diet, and as such we haven’t developed the ability to properly digest them.
3. Hot Peppers
Hot peppers can inflame the digestive tract and cause indigestion, heartburn, or basic stomach upset. The higher you go on the Scoville scale the more likelihood there is that you’ll experience some form of digestive discomfort. Hot peppers are part of the nightshade family of vegetables, which overall can present digestive problems for those that are sensitive to them. These include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. If you’ve picked up on the fact that your stomach rumbles and gurgles after eating certain meals, check to see if that meal included nightshade vegetables and then remove them from your diet to see if your digestion improves.
As unfortunate as it seems, chocolate can taste great but be a difficult food to digest. If you’ve noticed you have trouble digesting milk chocolate, try dark chocolate which is free of dairy and contains less sugar. It can be a bit bitter the more pure you go, but you can experiment with different ranges of purity to see which one provides the best ratio of taste to digestive ability.
You’ve likely experienced how corn can pass undigested through the entire digestive system. It has a large number of carbohydrates, so if you do eat corn make sure you’re eating it along with a protein, and keep your portion size under control. One problem is that almost all corn conventionally grown has also been genetically modified. GMO foods can present a problem for the digestive system due to the artificial tinkering that’s been done to them. Popcorn is also known as a food that’s hard to digest. If you notice that you’re not able to process it even in smaller amounts it may be best to avoid corn.
Have an upset stomach? Try one of these tummy soothing teas.
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