Gut & Digestive Problems: 5 Seemingly Innocent Foods That May Be Making You Sick by Gastro MD
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign that promotes the importance of making informed food choices and practicing healthy eating habits. But anytime is a great time to take a look at your daily diet, assess which foods make you feel your best, and which ones may be upsetting your digestive system, especially around the holidays.
Even the healthiest people can be affected by the wrong foods, and people with existing digestive problems could be triggering symptoms with certain choices. Here are some common culprits for gut problems:
1. Spicy Foods
Eating spicy food occasionally does not pose a health threat. However, overindulgence can damage the stomach lining and potentially lead to gastritis and colitis. Because spices are a combination of acids themselves, introducing them to the acidic contents of your stomach can promote activity that destroys the stomach walls. Frequently consuming spicy food can also trigger abdominal pain, worsen upper gastrointestinal issues and aggravate ulcers, causing excruciating pain, vomiting and nausea.
2. Acidic Foods
Some of the most acidic foods on the food pyramid are actually healthy because they contain vast amounts of vitamins and minerals. However, much like spicy meals, eating acidic foods in excess can cause a host of health issues. Acid-producing foods have been linked to the formation of uric acid stones and bone and muscle deterioration. High-citrus and other acidic foods may also contribute to gut issues such as reflux and ulcers.
3. Sugar and Artificial Sugars
Most likely, you already know that excess sugar consumption is bad for you and can lead to diabetes, tooth decay, weight gain and heart disease. However, artificial sugar and sugar substitutes may be just as bad. While controversial, artificial sweeteners are just as addictive as sugar. Research shows that they can stimulate your taste buds, affecting your brain and hormones and slowing your metabolism. Eating too much sugar in a short amount of time also rapidly changes your glucose levels, explaining those feelings of a “sugar hangover” or a “sugar high.” Patients often report headaches, fatigue, irritability and even having problems concentrating.
4. Dairy Products
Digesting dairy causes problems, including gas and bloating, for many people, especially those with a preexisting digestive disorder. However, dairy doesn’t only affect those with lactose intolerance. Milk and other dairy products are sources of saturated fat, which raises ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. The USDA recommends that adults consume only three cups of fat-free or low-fat dairy per day.
5. Fried Foods
Fried food is extremely difficult for the body to digest due to its fat and grease content. What’s more, these foods are high in calories and sodium, but low in fiber which means they slow digestion. Because fried foods are normally not absorbed – they end up in the colon and break into fatty acids, which increases secretion of fluids, triggering diarrhea and other digestive issues.
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