How often do you think about your GI health? A healthy GI tract is necessary for good overall health and it shouldn’t be neglected. The GI tract is also known as the digestive tract, and as you probably know, the digestion process breaks down foods and helps the body receive the nutrients that it needs in order to stay healthy and function properly. When you consider just how important digestion is to your overall health and body function, maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract should be high on your list of priorities.
People know that fiber is good for your digestive tract, but a healthy GI tract requires more than just boatloads of fiber. You want a healthy and well-balanced diet. You need to have complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, water, and nutrients in the right amounts to ensure a healthy digestive tract. While knowing what to eat for GI health is important, knowing what not to eat is important as well. Here are 5 foods that can trouble your digestive tract.
Not all processed foods are bad for you. Most food that you buy at the store has undergone some type of processing. But a minimally processed bag of chopped spinach isn’t going to cause GI problems, whereas highly processed meats and frozen meals could end up causing digestive problems. As a general rule, the closer to fresh you can get, the better.
You don’t necessarily need to cut out acidic foods from your diet, but you should be aware of how acidic certain foods are. Citrus fruits and tomatoes are acidic, but they also provide many essential vitamins and nutrients. Too much acidity can cause indigestion and other health problems. But it’s not quite as simple as saying that acid causes digestive problems. In fact, your stomach needs acid to break down food. But your stomach has to have the right pH level. Too much or too little acidity can cause health problems. According to the National Library of Medicine, a normal pH level for stomach fluid should be between 1.5 and 3.5 (acidic). Be mindful of acidity and eat a balanced diet.
Fried foods are typically high in fat and highly acidic. Acidic foods can promote gastroesophageal reflux disease, and diets that are high in fat can lead to a number of health complications as well as digestive problems. It’s especially important to steer clear of fried foods if you already have digestive issues.
More than half of all American adults drink coffee everyday. Coffee, whether it is caffeinated or decaf – can have a negative effect on your digestive health. Black coffee has a pH level around 5, making it an acidic beverage. Coffee can also act as a laxative, which can potentially cause problems over time. Caffeine is a diuretic, but decaf can irritate your bladder or prostate gland. Limiting the amount of coffee you drink each day can improve your GI health.
Alcohol can have a negative effect on the function and structure of the gastrointestinal tract. It can impair function of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for regulating what goes in or comes out of the stomach. Alcohol can also impair muscle movement in the large and small intestines. Too much alcohol can lead to other health problems and complications, and should only be consumed in moderation.
A little indigestion might not be concerning, but it could indicate a more serious problem. Talk to your primary care physician, or consult a specialist.