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Home/Blog/16 Easy-to-Digest Foods (and 7 to Avoid)

16 Easy-to-Digest Foods (and 7 to Avoid)

By Rachel Link, RD, MS

November 22, 2023

Easy to digest foods

When you’re focusing on overall healthy digestion, eating certain foods and avoiding others can make a big difference in how well you digest what you consume. Some foods are easier to digest than others based on their ingredients and the amounts of different nutrients they contain.

What foods are easy to digest? Those that aren’t very spicy, highly processed, acidic or fatty are the best options. For example, some easy-to-digest foods that experts suggest for people looking to support healthy digestion include ripe fruits, lean proteins, low-FODMAP veggies (see below) and herbal teas.

Below, find out which easy-to-digest foods to focus on. Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including certain foods or dietary supplements. 

When You Need Foods that Are Easy to Digest 

While it’s best to include lots of variety in your diet — such as different fruits, veggies, herbs, and sources of healthy fats and protein — there are times when it’s best to stick to foods that are mostly bland and easy to digest. For example, a “bland diet” is often recommended for people who are focusing on their digestion, at least short term. 

Eating a bland diet involves eating foods that are mostly unprocessed and low in fiber, fat and spices. An elimination diet, which excludes problematic foods and allergens, is another type of diet that’s useful for people who want to maximize their digestive health and overall digestion. 

Here are some instances when you may want to eat mostly easy-to-digest foods:

  • You’re experiencing occasional digestive upset or occasional gas and bloating: A bland diet can often help.

  • If you want to give your digestion a bit of a breather: People can sometimes benefit from eating simple, unprocessed foods.

  • You’re recovering from surgery: After surgery, a bland diet may be recommended by your healthcare professional.  

  • You have food sensitivities: People with food sensitivities or allergies may be advised by their healthcare professional to follow a restricted diet.

Why Is Healthy Digestion Important?

Maintaining good digestive health can help support overall health in many ways. Healthy digestion is important for the absorption of nutrients, energy production, healthy immune system function, elimination of waste and overall well-being. 

The digestive system plays a key role in eliminating waste and other toxins from the body, and it also assists in breaking down food into nutrients that can be absorbed and used for energy.

The digestive system is also closely linked to the immune system; therefore, a healthy gut microbiome (the community of bacteria that live in the digestive system) helps to support healthy immune system function.

Here are a few reasons why certain foods may be good for overall digestion:

  • They’re low in fat: Foods that are high in fat can take longer to digest, so lower-fat foods tend to be better for ease of digestion.

  • They’re low in carbohydrates called FODMAPs: Known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, FODMAPs is an acronym for a collection of food molecules (mostly sugars) that are short-chained carbohydrates, both fermentable and poorly absorbed in the gut. Certain types of fibrous foods, such as cruciferous veggies and beans, can be difficult to digest and can occasionally cause gas and bloating due to the specific kinds of carbs they have.

  • They’re high in nutrients: Foods that are high in nutrients, such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, can provide the body with the energy and nutrients it needs to help with overall health and maintaining normal energy levels.

  • They can help promote a healthy response to inflammation: Some foods — such as ginger, turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids — can help promote a healthy response to inflammation, while supporting overall gut and immune system health.

  • They provide probiotics: Foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir, can help promote the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and support healthy digestive function.

16 Best Easy-to-Digest Foods

Some of the best foods are those that are typically easy to digest, gentle on the digestive system, and do not cause irritation or inflammation. These foods are often low in fat, fiber and acid, and high in nutrients that can boost gut health.

What are some of the most easily digestible foods? Below are some easy foods to digest that you can eat when you want to focus on healthy digestion:

1. Lean proteins

Foods that are high in protein but low in fat and fiber, such as skinless chicken, turkey and fish, are generally easy to digest. On the other hand, red meat is harder to digest because it's usually higher in fat (eye of round and sirloin steak).

Just make sure you cook your low-fat meats and fish at least to medium, as any rare meat will make it harder for your stomach to digest. Yes, that includes your salmon and sirloin steak (marinate it beforehand so the texture isn't difficult to chew).

In the wild game category, consider rabbit, venison, pheasant and ostrich, as all are high in protein yet low in fat.

2. Cooked vegetables

Vegetables that are cooked and soft, such as carrots, zucchini and spinach, are easier to digest than raw vegetables.

3. Ripe fruits like bananas

Ripe fruits, such as bananas, melons, pineapple and papayas, are easy to digest because they naturally contain simple sugars and digestive enzymes that are easily broken down by the body.

Cooking fruits can also make them gentler on your stomach, as cooking will break down the fiber content and make the fruit easier to digest. Great options for cooked fruit includes apples, bananas, pears, peaches and apricots.

Applesauce is an example of a cooked fruit that works well for most stomachs.

4. Whole grains

Grains such as rice, quinoa and oatmeal are typically easy to break down and can provide energy and nutrients.

5. Yogurt and kefir

Considered fermented foods rich in probiotics, yogurt and kefir can help with healthy digestion, including by reducing occasional constipation, gas and bloating. Fermented foods are a key step in learning how to reduce bloating.

Compared to other dairy products, yogurt and kefir are often tolerated better. You can choose goat-based versions or even coconut if you're allergic to cow's milk.

6. Soups and bone broths

Soups and broths provide fluids to aid in hydration and nutrients such as collagen (found in real bone broth) and minerals.

The amino acids (the building blocks of protein) found within bone broth help maintain the structure and function of your gastrointestinal tract. A strong and healthy gut lining translates to overall healthy gut function as well as nutrient absorption.

7. Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein and many vitamins and minerals, and they're surprisingly easy to digest for most people unless they have an allergy. Scrambled or boiled eggs can be the best options because typically the entire egg gets cooked through unlike with over-easy eggs or fried eggs.

8. Sweet potatoes

As a great source of fiber and vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are filling and are usually easy on the gut, especially when they're fully cooked.

9. Healthy oils

While fried and very fatty foods are not ideal for digestion, olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil and coconut oil are usually tolerated well.

10. Sourdough or wheat toast

Sourdough toast is fermented and therefore is usually easier on the digestive tract. It can provide fiber, B vitamins and important minerals.

Ezekiel bread and wheat berry breads are usually highly recommended but their fiber content may make it more difficult to digest. Instead, simply go with an organic wheat variety.

11. White rice and cream of rice

White rice contains low amounts of fat and fiber and can be easy to digest. Cream of rice can be a comforting breakfast or snack for those dealing with an upset stomach, such as during a bad cold or flu.

Rice is also a hypoallergenic food, so most people can easily tolerate it.

12. Gelatin

Gelatin-containing desserts are popular for anyone with a stomach issue, such as after a procedure or suffering from a cold. Why? Well, gelatin is without fiber or fat and is considered one of the easiest foods to digest, plus can help hydrate because it's typically made with plenty of water.

An animal-based ingredient, gelatin contains some protein as well but plant-based eaters will want to avoid. They may choose seaweed-based agar agar that is also made with water.

13. Select smoothies

Certain smoothies and shakes are gentler on your digestion, especially those with nutrient-filled and easy-to-digest ingredients like yogurt, spinach, banana and berries. Pureed apples and pears are also a good option.

14. Ginger

Ginger is an herb that’s known for being a superfood for your gut because it’s known to be soothing to the stomach and gut lining. Add a bit to smoothies, teas, stir-fries or other recipes for extra digestive support.

15. Herbal teas

Herbal, caffeine-free tea such as peppermint tea, ginger tea and chamomile tea can create beneficial effects on digestion. (Some of these begin as edible flowers.)

16. Water

It's important not to overlook water when it comes to supporting one's digestion, as water helps keep your digestive system hydrated, keeps fiber moving through your body and can even create satiety (a feeling of fullness).

FAQS About Foods for Digestive Health

What foods are good for the gut?

As mentioned above, some of the best options are lean proteins, broths, oats, whole grain toast, cooked fruits and low-FODMAP veggies like carrots or zucchini.

Which single food is best for digestion?

There isn’t necessarily one single type. You need a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats to feel full and energized. Try pairing these together for the best effects, such as by having yogurt with oatmeal and berries, or eggs with steamed veggies.

What foods digest the fastest?

Simple sugars are generally digested fastest, such as those from fruits. To keep your energy up and promote healthy blood sugar already in the normal range, it’s best to eat simple sugars and carbs with other foods that contain protein and fats.

Foods that are Hard to Digest

Which foods are not easy to digest? Some foods can be harder to digest than others because it takes longer to break them down, or because they can be hard on the gut. The worst foods for gut health include those that are very high in sugar, fried and highly processed.

Here are a few examples of foods to avoid when your stomach isn’t feeling well:

  • Fatty and fried foods: Skip foods that are fried or greasy.

  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods can irritate the digestive system and cause discomfort, especially if you are not used to eating them.

  • Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes contain carbs that some people have trouble breaking down, which can sometimes cause gas and bloating.

  • Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage contain raffinose, a complex sugar that the body has trouble digesting, which can often cause gas.

  • Dairy products: Many people are lactose intolerant, meaning they have difficulty digesting lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products.

  • Processed foods: Processed foods can be high in fat, sugar and artificial additives, which can make them harder to digest and can cause discomfort.

  • Caffeinated beverages: Caffeine may help the gut in some ways but can also cause issues for those with digestive challenges, as it can overspeed your gut motility and urge to use the restroom.

Supplements that Help Digestion

In addition to eating a healthy diet, here are supplements that can help keep your digestive system on track.

1. Probiotics

To support a generally healthy digestive system and your ability to absorb essential nutrients, add a daily probiotic to your routine. You may want to try a soil-based organism (SBO) probiotic supplement, since this type is hardy and capable of being properly absorbed.

For extra gut support, try our SBO Probiotic Gut Restore formula, which also features botanicals that help promote healthy gut lining integrity.

2. Collagen

Collagen is a structural protein that helps to form and support the gut lining, contributing to a generally healthy digestive system and overall immune system health.

Our Multi Collagen Protein Gut Restore capsules provide 10 types of collagen plus gut-specific superfood ingredients to support healthy gut microflora, gut lining health and gut integrity.

3. Bone Broth Protein

For the same nutritional benefits as traditional bone broth, only in a fraction of the time, try our Bone Broth Protein powders that are three times as potent as homemade broth protein-wise. Bone Broth Protein supports a healthy inflammation response, a healthy immune system and a healthy gut microbiome.

4. Digestive Enzymes

Ancient Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes help to support healthy digestive function, healthy elimination and maintenance of healthy gut microflora, while reducing occasional gas, bloating and constipation.

5. Organic Supergreens

While some vegetables can be hard to break down, our powdered Supergreens products are packed with easily digestible antioxidants from 25+ nutrient-packed ingredients such as grasses, berries and algae. Organic Supergreens can help support healthy energy levels, healthy detoxification and general digestive function.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Our herbal cider vinegar is made with 10+ organic, regenerative superfood ingredients that generally support healthy microbial balance, healthy antioxidant levels and detoxification. 

Either add one tablespoon of ACV to a beverage daily, or more even more convenience, try our Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar capsules

7. Ancient Glandulars

Organ meats, also called glandulars, are very high in essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, zinc, and vitamin A — all of which may be lacking in some people’s diets. While you can cook fresh liver and organ meats, some prefer the convenience of taking them in capsule form instead, such as our Ancient Glandulars Grassfed Liver capsules.

Supplementing with organ meats like beef liver can support healthy energy levels, healthy blood, elimination and digestive functions.

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