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Home/Blog/13 Easy-to-Digest Foods (and 6 to Avoid)
13 Easy-to-Digest Foods (and 6 to Avoid)
By Jill Levy
April 15, 2023
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 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.
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.
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: 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.
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:
Foods that are high in protein but low in fat, such as chicken, turkey and fish, are generally easy to digest.
Vegetables that are cooked and soft, such as carrots, zucchini and spinach, are easier to digest than raw vegetables.
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.
Grains such as rice, quinoa and oatmeal are typically easy to break down and can provide energy and nutrients.
Compared to other dairy products, yogurt and kefir are often tolerated better, plus they provide probiotics to help boost gut health.
Soups and broths provide fluids to aid in hydration and nutrients such as collagen (found in real bone broth) and minerals.
Eggs are a good source of protein and many vitamins and minerals.
As a great source of fiber and vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are filling and are usually easy on the gut.
While fried and very fatty foods are not ideal for digestion, olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil and coconut oil are usually tolerated well.
Sourdough toast is fermented and therefore is usually easier on the digestive tract. It can provide fiber, B vitamins and important minerals. Ezekiel bread is also highly recommended.
If you find that smoothies and shakes are gentler on your digestion, try making one with nutrient-filled ingredients like yogurt, spinach, banana and berries. Pureed apples and pears are also a good option.
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.
To maintain hydration, be sure to drink lots of water and fluids, such as peppermint tea, ginger tea and chamomile tea, for beneficial effects on digestion.
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.
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.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, here are supplements that can help keep your digestive system on track.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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