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The Worst Foods for Your Gastrointestinal System

The Worst Foods for Your Gastrointestinal System

As many as 70 million Americans are affected by digestive problems, with symptoms that include heartburn, gas, bloating, and problems with their bowel habits. Digestive conditions can be caused by many factors, but there’s no denying that your diet can play a big role in how frequently those symptoms flare up.

At Digestive Disease Specialists in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, our team offers custom care plans for patients who suffer from digestive issues, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In many cases, those treatment plans include dietary modifications. 

If you suffer from a digestive disease or from digestion-related symptoms, here are 10 foods our team says you might want to avoid or at least limit.

1. Deep-fried foods

Deep-fried foods absorb copious amounts of fats — oil, shortening, or lard — during the cooking process. Fat is very hard to digest, which means if you have issues with your digestive system, eating deep-fried foods could cause uncomfortable symptoms.

2. Processed foods

Processed foods are typically high in refined carbohydrates, along with fats and sugars, each of which can cause digestive symptoms. Combined, these foods — which include a lot of bakery items and snack foods — can cause gas, bloating, and cramps, along with diarrhea or constipation.

3. High-fat foods

Deep-fried foods contain a lot of fat, but so do a lot of other foods that aren’t fried. Heavy cream, butter, and fatty meats, such as bacon, can all be very hard to digest, which can result in cramps, bowel issues, and other digestive issues.

4. Coffee

Most of us depend — heavily — on that morning cup of java to get moving. But, coffee contains oils and caffeine, both of which can irritate your digestive tract, especially if you reach for that second cup.

5. Spicy foods

Spicy foods add interest and “kick” to lots of delicious dishes, including chili, curries, and Buffalo wings. Unfortunately, spicy ingredients — including any type of hot pepper — can cause heartburn or GERD, especially if you indulge before bedtime or any time prior to lying down.

6. Alcohol

Alcohol irritates the lining of your digestive tract, and it can take a toll on your liver, too. Plus, it relaxes the muscles at the end of your esophagus, increasing the likelihood of reflux. 

7. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which is essential for good health. But, they’re also high in acids, and if you eat too many — or consume them before bed or on an empty stomach — they may cause reflux and irritation.

8. Chocolate

For many people, limiting this particular food can be particularly hard to swallow (pardon the pun). Chocolate is delicious and popular, but it can also irritate your digestive system, increasing the risks for diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.

9. Dairy products

Most dairy products contain lactose, a type of sugar that causes digestive problems in people who are sensitive to it. Even if you’re not lactose intolerant, it’s still probably a good idea to avoid the full-fat versions. 

10. Artificial sweeteners

Many popular artificial sweeteners contain sorbitol, a sweetening agent that’s actually used as a laxative. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that these sweeteners are associated with bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Keep your digestive system healthy

Not everyone will react to the foods on this list in the same way. Paying attention to how foods affect you is important for deciding which foods to include and exclude in your own diet. 

If you’re suffering from digestion-related symptoms, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a gastrointestinal problem, having an evaluation is critical to getting to the bottom of what’s going on. To schedule a consultation and examination, book an appointment online or over the phone with Digestive Disease Specialists today.

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