If you are experiencing digestive upsets, follow these guidelines for minimizing and avoiding foods which may contribute to the problem.
Follow these guidelines if you are experiencing digestive upsets. You may want to consider an elimination diet, in which you refrain from eating possible allergens, then slowly add foods back, one by one. Keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel to see if there's any correlation between certain foods and symptoms.
Minimize or avoid altogether:
- Foods high in fat or caffeine
These can exacerbate symptoms of GI dysfunction.
- Products containing the sweetener sorbitol, which can cause diarrhea.
- Alcohol and high-sugar foods, which can trigger symptoms.
- Gas-inducing foods
Even some "good for you" foods—Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, beans, lentils, apples, avocados, melons and prunes—can cause excess gas.
- Spicy spices
Certain spices such as chili powder, garlic, curry powder, ginger and hot sauces can aggravate the intestines. However, recent research has indicated that cayenne pepper may actually alleviate some gastric distress.
- Milk products (for those with lactose intolerance).
Also, be aware of "hidden" lactose in products such as instant potatoes, soups and breakfast drinks; salad dressings; lunch meats; and processed foods.
- Foods high in fiber
Fiber will help regulate bowel movement frequency and consistency. Look for whole-grain breads, cereals, muffins or crackers; oats; barley; psyllium; vegetables; and fruits. While it's best to get fiber from food sources, fiber supplements are another option. A word of caution: Fiber should be added to the diet gradually, to avoid excess gas or diarrhea. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 25-30 grams of fiber a day.
Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is essential for healthy digestion.