The food you eat isn’t in the form your body needs – that comes after your digestive system does its job. From your mouth to your stomach and all points after, the digestive system is working to pull the nutrients out of the food and process the rest as waste. Certain types of food help make digestion easier.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and they also can aid digestion. That’s because they all contain fiber, which helps keep your bowels regular, dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kristi King told The Huffington Post. She noted that bananas are especially helpful for digestion when you’re sick because they are bland and won’t irritate the stomach. In addition to regulating bowel movements, fiber can help maintain bowel health, according to MayoClinic.com.
Good bacteria beats bad bacteria every time. That’s why many people look to probiotic-enriched foods to settle their stomachs. King says you should look for foods like yogurt and kefir that contain live cultures. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen note that probiotics offer such benefits as preventing colitis-related colon cancer and treating diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other health benefits like strengthening the immune system and easing eczema.
Without fluids, your body can’t use the foods you eat the way it needs to. Fluid helps push foods through your digestive system. If you don’t drink enough fluids, fiber can’t do its job and may cause constipation. King says water is best, and she cautions against caffeinated beverages, soda and alcohol because they can trigger acid reflux.
Foods with a high fat content can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Fatty foods can cause heartburn and diarrhea, according to Dr. Matthew L. Bechtold, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Health Center at the University of Missouri–Columbia. For that reason, registered dietitian Jessica Anderson, a diabetes educator with Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center, suggests eating more chicken and fish and less red meat, which tends to be fattier.
Lucy D'Berry has been a writer for nearly 30 years, specializing in nutrition and health issues, as well as in education and government. She has written for daily newspapers and edits a national magazine. She has earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the communications field.