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Everyone should be aware of what foods are easy to digest. This way, you can ensure that you don’t overeat and steer clear of the extra pounds.
Whole grains are the healthiest kind of grains, Mayo Clinic says. Offering you a ton of nutrients and saving you from potential diseases, grains just look like an ideal part of a healthy diet. The same applies to milk, fruits, and vegetables. Even if they make up a wholesome diet, they might not favor your gut when you’re dealing with, for example, a stomach bug.
Many metabolic diseases, if not all, are theorized to emerge from the stomach possibly due to chronic inflammation. Lifestyle and diet changes can go a long way especially when the count of people dealing with digestive issues goes beyond par. Let’s discuss what foods are easy to digest.
1. A Picture of Digestive Disorders
62 million Americans suffer digestion-related issues each year. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS1) affects around 5 million of them, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD2) is found in one out of three people, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD3) hits between 2 to 6 percent of them. These diseases cost thousands of deaths and billions of dollars.
In this scenario, proper digestion becomes predominant particularly when you’re already dealing with digestion issues. What foods are easy to digest? Knowing the answer can facilitate the digestion process.
Before you get to know about easy-to-digest foods, where you’re restricted to eating certain types of food until you quell the disturbance within your body, let’s first know what these disturbances are.
2. Different Problems With Digestive Tract
Digestion is a vital process and a healthy digestive system keeps you in shape. Any issues that make digestion a struggle results from a difficulty in the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It’s a channel by which the food passes over and digests within your body.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes problems with the digestive tract, inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastrointestinal infection, pregnancy-related issues like bloating, and acid reflux (a condition that causes stomach acid to travel back into the food pipe) are some of the common conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.
3. Signs of Digestive Disorders
These conditions impact you regularly in the following ways –
- Abdominal pain
4. What Causes Digestion Issues?
Following lifestyle factors can mess up your stomach health –
- Smoking and alcohol
- Late-night eating or overeating
- Overdose or lack of vitamins
- Certain types of foods, e.g., spicy foods, fatty foods, and fried foods
- Eating too much fiber
- And gluten intolerance
5. What Makes Food Easy to Digest?
Following are some of the processes that break down food to make it easy to digest –
- Cooking food for a longer period (not too long though) at low heat with good quality oil.
- Soaking certain foods overnight can make them bioavailable (meaning they’d be more healthful) and easy to digest.
- Fermentation works by the good bacteria in the food pre-digesting it which makes it easier to digest when you eat the same food. Also, fermented foods being rich in probiotics help in processing the food.
- Grinding breaks down food and bite-sized foods are easy to digest.
6. What Foods are Easy to Digest? – 7 Easy-to-Digest Foods
6.1 Saltine Crackers
Plain saltine crackers don’t have fiber and are low-fat. So, ease off the digestion. These crackers don’t produce much acid or even absorb the discomforting acid in your stomach. They are a substitute for lost electrolytes because of their salty nature and also help prevent nausea as they lack aroma.
However, if you consume saltine crackers regularly, you need to be cautious of the sodium intake as an excess of it can impact your fluid levels and blood pressure.
6.2 Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have multiple benefits in store for you such as vitamin A which comes from beta-carotene found in sweet potatoes, vitamin C and B6, and potassium. It also contains some soluble fiber which makes you feel satiated and even helps with diarrhea.
It’s ranked high on the glycemic index4 (GI) and glycemic load (GL) (but less than white potatoes) meaning that it quickly turns into glucose providing instant energy and digesting easily just like your regular potatoes but can also lead to raised blood sugar.
Similar to potatoes, it may also result in diabetes and weight gain because it absorbs fast causing a rise in blood sugar levels and food cravings. A raw sweet potato can help in this case because it has the least GI. Different factors affect the GI of a sweet potato. The orange sweet potato variety can have a raised GI than others.
It’s better to have it cooked when your stomach hurts to digest heavy food. Cooking makes it easy to digest and mashed sweet potato is more enhanced in nourishment as cooking processes such as boiling without peeling (not baking as it raises the GI) preserve most of its nutrients.
6.3 White Bread
Whole wheat toast should be your first choice when looking for something that’s packed with the goodness of B vitamins, fiber, magnesium, and iron without any additional calories. In short, a perfect food choice for a better gut but what if your gut is unstable?
This is what white bread is good for. Although the refining process extracts all the health benefits bran and germ provide except the starch, it becomes much lighter to digest thus suitable for a distressed gut. Moreover, white bread isn’t completely devoid of nutritional value as it’s enriched with vitamins, iron, and calcium in its making process.
If you still face issues after avoiding whole wheat bread, you might be dealing with gluten sensitivity. It’s a protein found in some grains that may cause symptoms like diarrhea and stomach pain. In that case, you can choose the gluten-free bread option available in the market.
Suggested Reading: Best 1 Week Gluten Free Meal Plan
Sweet flavor and a feeling of fullness come to mind when thinking of bananas. But they’ve much more to offer you besides being a rich source of carbs.
The ripeness of bananas decides whether they’re going to be stomach-friendly or just a stomach bug.
Unripe bananas help in gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and type 2 diabetes since they control sugar levels (due to the slower conversion of carbs) and happily feed gut bacteria. But they’re not your type if you’re dealing with an upset stomach because unripe bananas are starch-resistant meaning that they don’t make it to the list of easy-to-digest food.
Thus comes the role of ripe bananas. Ripe, not overly, banana contains more sugar and less starch thus easier to break down and digest. It’s also rich in micronutrients such as iron, potassium, B vitamins, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C which the body can easily absorb with less strain on the digestive system.
The main concern of a healthy diet is to ensure that you get as many nutrients as required for a strong digestive system. Eggs have mainly everything your body needs such as protein, minerals, different vitamins, and fats.
The yolk of the egg is high in cholesterol (186 mg) and your body (which already produces cholesterol) can only afford just below 300 mg from outer sources. So, if your body isn’t already high in cholesterol, go with eggs.
However, whether you should eat raw or cooked eggs, depends on your dietary choices. Raw eggs are the same in nutritional value as cooked eggs or might be more nutritious but their absorption in the body takes time. Cooked eggs aren’t just easy to digest but also let the body absorb most of the proteins that eggs provide whereas the body manages to get only half of the proteins of raw eggs.
Also, raw egg carries the risk of food poisoning by the presence of Salmonella bacteria 5on its shell which can be killed in the cooking process at 160°F/70°C. Eggs can be cooked in several ways such as boiling and frying but they should be cooked for less time to avoid nutrient loss.
6.6 White Rice
Whether you should eat brown rice or white rice, depends on you or your stomach. Brown rice is rich in fiber content which essentially stays longer in the stomach causing problems for people with gastrointestinal tract issues.
But white rice makes digestion a little less complicated due to its quick absorption quality. So it’s an easy-to-digest grain because it dissolves into glucose faster than brown rice.
This makes it however an unhealthy alternative causing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Since white rice is a carb devoid of fiber, it breaks down quickly and releases sugar shortly which is managed by the insulin hormone through cells for energy and storage. With time, this frequent usage of insulin exhausts it making it damaged.
Glycemic Load tells you about the blood sugar levels after eating a certain food. Low GL means lower chances of these diabetes and heart disease and high GL means that there’s a greater risk. White rice has high GL, so you should be eating it sparingly and only on the advice of your nutritionist if you’re facing any of these issues.
6.7 Dairy Products
Dairy products are rich in fat and hold some carbs too which are found in lactose. These carbs and fats don’t get easy on your system and can aggravate symptoms of certain infections.
Also, if you’re lactose sensitive, you might not be able to have milk, yogurt, and other dairy products because of the shortage of the enzyme (lactase) in your body. Lactase 6breaks down the lactose (a kind of sugar in milk products) into simple carbs (sugars), i.e., glucose and galactose which provide energy.
Being lactose intolerant, the lactose you consume doesn’t digest but is sent to the colon where it gets fermented causing unpleasant symptoms.
So, add low-fat milk, yogurt, or any other lactose-free products to your diet to get nourishment without being prey to digestive issues. Besides, hard cheese which is relatively low in sugar can make your digestive system suffer less.
6.8 What Foods Are Easy to Digest: Other Options
- Lean protein sources like stewed chicken breast and fish
- Cooked veggies like green beans
- Cooked fruits
- Gluten-free fiber oatmeal
- Cooked cereals
- Refined grains
- Herbal tea
7. Foods That Aren’t Easy to Digest
Whole grains, raw fruits like apples, raw vegetables, e.g., broccoli, spicy foods, e.g., phaal curry, greasy foods like red meats, fried foods like onion rings, acidic foods, e.g., grapefruit, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, overeating, and junk food can hurt your digestive health.
8. Diets You Can Follow for an Upset Stomach
8.1 Soft Foods Diet
This diet aids someone who’s been through any surgery or has weak digestion due to any other illness. Fatless foods that aren’t heavy are given to people to recover faster. These include juices, dairy, easily chewable fruits, cooked vegetables, and so on. Any spicy or fried foods are avoided.
8.2 FODMAP Diet
FODMAPs are carbs that don’t digest in the small intestine but reach the colon. There the beneficial bacteria namely probiotics, ferment them quickly and the resultant chemicals cause pain and bloating in sensitive people. These are especially a nuisance for people diagnosed with IBS.
A low-FODMAP diet can help in this condition which isn’t gluten-free but limits the fiber intake and may cause you to avoid dairy products if you’re lactose intolerant.
8.3 Bland Diet
A diet mainly composed of low fiber, low fat, and soft foods – thus easy to digest. It gives you nutrition without filling you up with digestive issues. Be sure to eat small chunks at frequent intervals and keep yourself hydrated. It’s also called the BRAT diet which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast but you can include other light options for your ailing tummy.
8.4 Low-Fiber Diet
Fiber is a must for a healthy digestive system because it can help in digestion and the management of waste. But it stays in your stomach for too long and doesn’t digest. So it might be a problem for an already unsettled tummy.
A low-fiber diet works by restricting high-fiber foods in your diet till your stomach settles down.
9. Tips for a Healthy Digestion
Stomach-related issues occur for a variety of reasons, taking care of the following when your tummy feels sick can help-
- Eat low-fiber foods.
- People with gluten sensitivity can choose a gluten-free diet.
- Have less spicy, low-fat, and cooked food.
- Keep a food diary to track your food habits.
- Eliminate unhealthy cravings.
- Enough intake of water and other fluids.
- Keep a check on sugary drinks and food.
- Talk with your doctor to slowly add eliminated foods to your diet.
10. What Foods are Easy to Digest: Conclusion
To sum up, eating meals that are simple to digest can improve overall digestive comfort and health. These foods are particularly advantageous for persons who have delicate digestive systems, gastrointestinal problems or are recovering from diseases.
It’s crucial to remember that each person has a different digestive system, so what one person finds simple to digest may not be the same for another. Consult a medical expert or qualified dietitian if you have ongoing digestive problems or concerns for individualized advice and suggestions.
Click here to read about Lactose-Free Milk.
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