It seems odd to think that there are foods that hurt digestive health. After all, when it comes to food, shouldn’t it all be good in some way or another? That said, the human body didn’t necessarily evolve with some of our ideas of “food” as a part of the process. As a result, our stomachs and intestinal ecosystem don’t always respond well to everything we eat.
Consuming too many foods that hurt digestive health can bring on discomforts over the short term, but much broader problems over the long term. The way that whole foods are processed and prepared – particularly when combined with a relatively sedentary lifestyle – can bring on upset stomachs, diarrhea, or other problems such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, digestive diseases and disorders and even possibly some kinds of cancer.
Consider the following foods that hurt digestive health and talk to your doctor about whether or not you would be better off avoiding them.
Fried food and very high fat foods
Fats can be good for you. However, fried foods and other foods that give you a very large dose of fat all at once can be overwhelming to the digestive system. Common side effects of these foods include acid reflux symptoms such as heartburn. These symptoms are often seen as indicators that the digestive system is being overwhelmed. Very fatty foods can be especially problematic for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders.
Though many people enjoy these drinks and find them relaxing, they can also cause the esophageal sphincter to relax. This can result in acid reflux such as heartburn. Alcohol can also cause stomach lining inflammation, which may inhibit the action of certain important digestive enzymes and reduce nutrient absorption. Current guidelines suggest that women drink no more than one serving of alcohol per day and men have no more than two.
In moderation, healthy individuals can enjoy a certain amount of chili peppers. That said, too much – or in combination with certain health conditions – the result can be esophageal irritation and heartburn. This can also worsen the symptoms of people with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), IBS or other people at risk of heartburn.
Corn is very high in fiber, but it also contains a type of fiber that is non-digestible by humans, called cellulose. Human evolutionary ancestors were once able to digest it because they had stronger and larger teeth. They could chew the corn long enough that they did not require a special enzyme to break down the cellulose. Our current teeth and eating habits don’t allow the corn to be chewed enough before it is swallowed, leading some people to experience abdominal discomfort and gas when they eat it.