Are there certain foods that just don’t agree with you? Does milk have you running for the loo? Or does a bucket of chips make your guts turn somersaults? Here are some foods to dodge if you’re looking to avoid indigestion, and you may be surprised what’s here.
Indigestion is a common problem and can manifest itself in various ways including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and heartburn. No matter the symptom, the cause is usually a certain type of food that isn’t being broken down properly in your digestive tract.
Traditionally ‘bad’ food such as fried and sugary treats are usually named as the culprit for triggering indigestion, but even some foods considered healthy can cause adverse reactions in some. Here are some foods you may want to avoid if you are prone to an upset stomach.
Fructose is a ketonic simple sugar found naturally in many plants (especially sugarcane) and is a very common ingredient in many sweet foods and drinks such as lollies, fruit juice and soft drinks. Linked to weight gain, fructose is also a common digestive irritant and can cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
According to Healthline, there’s evidence that fructose can even interfere with your mood and cause depressive symptoms.
Naturally if you’re sensitive to fructose, then you may be on the lookout for ‘sugar free’ options, but this may not give you the relief you’re craving.
Your reaction depends on the specific chemicals used, but any sweeteners containing sorbitol can have a nasty effect on your digestion. And not just in those with an intolerance. Apart from being a common artificial sweetener, sorbitol is also a common ingredient in laxatives.
On Australian food labels, sorbitol may be listed as artificial sweetener code 420 but may also be listed on the label as a ‘humecant’, a type of food moistener.
Surely there can’t be leafy greens on this list? Weren’t we always told we’d grow big and strong as long as we kept eating stuff like this? Well, that’s not always the case.
Cruciferous vegetables include health food staples such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale. These are all actually derivatives of the same plant, known in Australia as a brassica.
“Cruciferous vegies also contain raffinose, an oligosaccharide that humans actually don’t have the enzyme to digest,” health blog MindBodyGreen says.
“This means that, since it didn’t get digested in the small intestines, when it enters the large intestine undigested, that’s where you’re likely to experience gas and bloating as bacteria in the intestines start to ferment that undigested food.”
There’s no doubt covering just about anything in batter and dunking it in boiling oil will make it taste amazing. But it’s not uncommon for that dim sim or deep-fried Mars bar to have you doubled over in pain only hours later, either heading for the bathroom or the Mylanta.
“Fried, greasy, and fatty foods can all cause heartburn and lead to reflux because they prevent the lower oesophageal sphincter from fully tightening,” health blog Everyday Health says.
“This creates an opening for stomach acids to flow upward. Greasy, heavier foods are also harder to digest so the stomach empties more slowly, which can trigger heartburn.”
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes are rich in vitamin C and known to boost your immune system by stimulating white blood cell production. But many may not be aware that citrus fruits can cause indigestion, particularly heartburn, mainly due to their high citric acid content.
Studies have shown that as many as 73 per cent of people experience at least mild heartburn symptoms after consuming citrus fruits. You’ll want to avoid drinks such as orange and grapefruit juice if this affects you, as well as certain soft drinks and cordials.
Cheese, ice cream, yoghurt and anything else made from cows’ milk has long been known to cause digestive distress in those genetically predisposed to be unable to break down a particular sugar called lactose. This is due to a lack of lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose in the lower intestine.
According to the Victorian government’s Better Health Channel, lactose intolerance rates show a correlation with a person’s ethnic background.
“It is rare for Caucasians to develop lactose intolerance. However, a form of lactose intolerance that develops after about five years of age is quite common (and normal) among people from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and some Mediterranean countries, as well as among Aboriginal Australians,” Better Health states.
“Up to 5 per cent of Caucasians and up to 75 per cent of non-Caucasians living in Australia are lactose intolerant.”
Do you have trouble digesting any of these foods? What other foods trigger your indigestion? Let us know in the comments section below.
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