5 Foods To Avoid For Digestive Health
Discover the worst foods for your digestive tract.
We all know by now that what you eat directly affects the microbiome (the genetic material including bacteria inside the body) in your gut which in turn effects your health.
A healthy gut helps keep chronic conditions at bay and can decrease inflammation while maintaining brain health and help maintain a healthy weight.
It’s never too late to change your diet to sustain better bugs in your digestive tract.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, saccharin and sucralose may have zero calories and no sugar but they pass through the body without being digested, yet come into contact with the microflora in the gut, negatively changing the composition, according to research. Some studies suggest a connection between artificial sweeteners and chronic diseases.
Watch your intake of aspartame, saccharin and sucralose in processed foods, diet sodas, snack bars, gum and even healthy food like yogurt. Try kombucha in place of soda for a bubbly beverage with good-for-the-gut probiotics.
2. Red Meat
Carnitine, a compound found in red meat, interacts with gut bacteria to produce trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), TMAO is associated with atherosclerosis—buildup of plaque in the arteries. How gut bacteria interacts with red meat may yet play a role in heart health.
Factory farmed meats may also contain antibiotics that kill healthy gut bacteria. When consuming meat try to eat quality med free meats like free range bison, beef or chicken.
Try to eat red meat in moderation, and choose fatty fish, white fish, chicken or plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh on the regular.
3. Processed and Refined Foods
The problem with most processed foods although tasty is the lack of nutrients and fiber and their large volume of added sugars, salt, artificial sweeteners and/or additives and preservatives. What your microbiome really needs is the opposite, diverse types of fiber and polyphenols that exist only in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Alcohol can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut and negatively changes the intestinal microbiome by increasing the formation of bad bacteria. However, research is lacking on the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on gut bacteria and how the polyphenols in red wine interact with the gut. If you enjoy drinking, moderation is key, which is one drink per day for women and two for men.
Caffeine heavy drinks like coffee, energy drinks, colas and even too much chocolate can increase the caffeine in your body, which collects in your intestines. This excitement in your digestive system often causes diarrhea, upset stomach and other discomfort. Green tea is a good low caffeine alternative to work coffee.
You’ve heard all this before, it all goes back to eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains for prebiotics (food for the bacteria) and fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha for probiotics (good bacteria). Avoid or eat less red meat, processed foods in moderation and limit artificial sweeteners, caffeine and alcohol to keep your gut microbiome healthy and your risk of chronic diseases low.