We’ve all got our favorite foods we would probably live on given the choice — and we all have those foods we avoid like the plague because they mess with our digestive tracks, no matter how tasty they are.
No one loves chatting about foods that make them poop, so we’ve done all the gross research for you. What foods are the best for your digestive tract, and which should be avoided or eaten in moderation?
Whole Grains — Good
Whole grains should be a part of your diet every single day, whether they’re in the form of brown rice, whole wheat bread or other complex carbs. They’re full of useful fibers that help with digestion and also keep your entire digestive tract healthy.
Unfortunately, a healthy gastrointestinal tract and a high fiber diet means you’re going to poop — a lot. Steel cut oats, for example, make a healthy, filling breakfast, but the fiber in the oats also helps to clear your digestive tract. This isn’t a bad thing unless you don’t have time to make it to the bathroom in the morning. It might be a good idea to leave the fiber for later meals if this is the case.
Caffeinated Drinks — Bad
Most of us aren’t humans without our morning cup — or pot — of coffee. For some people, though, these caffeinated beverages are a bad addition to their diet. Caffeine and caffeinated drinks can cause digestive problems, like heartburn. In individuals with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), this can make the reflux even worse.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, which forces water out of the body. This can dehydrate you and has been known to cause cramping and diarrhea. Instead of that fourth cup of coffee or that soda, try a fancy infused water instead.
Yogurt — Good
Your digestive tract is filled with trillions of bacteria — and this is a good thing. The problem happens when you eat too many foods that negatively affect your gut bacteria. These foods can cause a host of digestive problems, and some studies have even suggested this change in gut bacteria can affect other systems in the body, as well.
Some yogurt brands contain live bacterial cultures that can help to reinforce and replenish your gut biome. Just look for yogurt labels that advertise “live and active” cultures in their product. Those are the ones that will help replenish your gut bacteria.
Fried Food — Bad
Fried food is not healthy for you, period, but it also wreaks havoc on your digestive tract. Too much fat in your diet, either from the foods themselves or from how they’re cooked, can overwhelm the body, causing uncomfortable heartburn and acid reflux.
The solution to this one is simple — cut fried snacks and other fatty foods out of your diet, or at least enjoy them in moderation. You don’t have to give up your favorite fried chicken — just don’t eat it for dinner every night.
Lean Proteins — Good
If you enjoy meat, you probably enjoy a big, juicy steak now and then. While eating red meat in moderation isn’t a bad thing, lean proteins like chicken and fish are better for your digestive system. This is because red meat tends to be fattier and that fat isn’t digested as well, which can lead to digestive problems.
Fatty proteins have also been linked to a higher chance of colon cancer, so picking the lower fat, lean proteins is just better for your overall health.
Chocolate — Bad
This is painful to admit – but this sweet treat might not be the best choice for your digestive health. One study found chocolate can cause problems for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it might not be just the chocolate that’s the problem. Chocolate, especially milk chocolate, contains milk fats that can cause problems for those sensitive to lactose.
Chocolate also has caffeine which, as we’ve mentioned already, can be problematic for the digestive tract. Keep in mind, this is not saying chocolate is bad for your overall health. We know it’s great for your mental health if nothing else. Digestion. That’s all we’re addressing here.
Bananas — Good
If you’re ever worried about a particularly runny bowel movement, eat a banana or two. The potassium and fiber in this tasty fruit are essential to digestive health. They’re even the main part of the anti-diarrhea “BRAT” diet that’s often suggested to help with runny stools in children. BRAT stands for Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast — all foods high in fiber that can help prevent diarrhea.
Ginger — Good
Ginger isn’t just a spice or condiment you get with your sushi — it’s also a great tool for digestive health. It’s been used for thousands of years to treat everything from nausea and vomiting to morning sickness and even colic in children. Whether you add it to your tea, enjoy a piece of candied ginger or suck on a piece of ginger candy, it’s a tried and true tool to help with your digestive health.
The trick with ginger is not to take too much — eating excessive amounts of ginger can irritate the stomach and cause heartburn and acid reflux.
Digestive health is something that often gets neglected. We think it’s going to take care of itself, right up until it doesn’t. Take the time to get to know your digestive system — yes, even your poop — and you’ll have a better idea of how your food is affecting the rest of your body.
Even if you don’t choose to make large changes to your diet, it still helps to be aware of what you’re putting into your body. Enjoy your fried foods or your chocolate — just know what it’s doing to your digestive system and how to take care of yourself if it starts to become a problem.