Kirsty BoultonMarch 29, 2021

What are the worst foods for digestion?

Whilst there are many ways to support your digestion and diet isn't always the only underlying issue, some foods can be particularly problematic in many cases, including:

  1. Processed foods
  2. Caffeine
  3. Spicy foods

Here I explore these foods in more detail, explaining how they can be troublesome, what symptoms they could be giving rise to and which food swaps could be easily implemented to help going forwards.

1. Processed foods

Why so bad?

Processed foods can be tricky to avoid nowadays - they literally line the shelves of most supermarkets you go into which can risk tricking you into a false sense of acceptance. But unfortunately, especially if you already have a sensitive digestive system, for example, if you suffer at the hands of IBS, processed foods may only be adding to your digestive woes.

See, processed foods tend to include a whole list of added ingredients, some of which are not so natural. Unfortunately, this is often even the case if the foods are labelled as being 'healthy' - arguably even more so! As foods are changed; fibre, healthy fats and naturally occurring nutrients are stripped from it, and in goes a barrage of sugars, sweeteners and poor quality fats in a bid to make the food taste nice and be suitably shelf-stable.

The lack of fibre, for one, can contribute to symptoms such as constipation, whereas added fats or other unwanted extras such as artificial sweeteners could irritate our guts and send us running to the loo more often. The other effect that unnatural additions could have is upsetting the balance of our good gut bacteria.

Many added sweeteners, naturally derived or otherwise, fall into the 'FODMAP' category of foods. This means they reach the large intestine having not been fully broken down. This can be seen as an advantage for some as they are technically 'non-caloric' but ultimately, they can upset your balance of gut bacteria due to arriving there in unnatural amounts or states (rather than being part of a natural food matrix), and cause us more issues in the long run.