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The worst foods for your gut and digestion

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
8 May 2012

Few people can eat whatever they like with no consequences. Spicy curries, processed meat, high sodium ready meals, booze and additives can all wreak havoc on the delicate balance in your gut and cause indigestion. Beyond noticing the obvious effects on your immediate digestion, problem food and drink in your diet can have a far-reaching effect on everything from your skin to your energy levels.

Food tolerance varies tremendously from person to person, but if you’re not feeling your best here are some of the most common culprits of excess wind, indigestion, constipation and bloating, that cutting out can alleviate.

[Related story: Nine golden rules of good digestion]

Fat and oily foods

Foods high in saturated fat, such as fried chips, processed red meat and full-fat cheese take longer to digest, giving your system a tough job. This can manifest in stomach ache, indigestion and heart burn. If you suffer badly with heartburn it may be worth cutting them out altogether.

Spicy food

Hot curries or spicy stir fries are very popular in the UK, but unfortunately for us, they’re not easy to digest and the amount of spice we can cope with is different for everyone. Food that’s too hot for you can cause heartburn and diarrhoea, as well as indigestion and feeling sick. You might particularly notice this after a big curry (especially if beer is also involved!)


We might love it but (as we all know) alcohol isn’t very good for us at all. For your digestion, drinking too much can immediately cause you to feel sick (or be sick), and give you heartburn and stomach ache. Regular drinking can do some serious damage to the organs that digest your food, including the stomach, pancreas and intestines. If you’re having trouble with your tummy, it’s a good one to cut out.


Sorbitol is used as a low-calorie alternative sweetener in diet foods and chewing gum. It’s also natural to fruits including prunes, apples and peaches. In some people it can cause stomach cramps, wind and diarrhoea. If you notice you’re feeling poorly after eating these ‘healthy’ foods, sorbitol could be the cause so try changing to different snacks for a while to see if it makes any difference.

[Related article: Three reasons artificial sweeteners are making you fat]

Acidic foods

Acidic foods, unsurprisingly, can cause heartburn. Tomatoes, citric fruits and fruit juices can cause an upset stomach. But actually, many of the foods you think of as acidic are actually alkaline once broken down by your body, and vice versa. Find out more about an alkaline diet and how it can benefit your health. What everyone agrees on is that caffeinated drinks can give many people tummy trouble, so instead of reaching for tea, coffee and cola, try herbal teas instead.

Now find out what you should eat more of for a healthy digestion…

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