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What common foods are good and bad for your belly?

What common foods are good and bad for your belly?
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Foods containing rapidly fermentable carbohydrates called FODMAPs can feed bacteria in the gut and may be responsible for gut inflammation, gas, bloating and other uncomfortable tummy troubles in some people. Cutting back on foods that contain FODMAPs may help improve your digestion and eliminate GI problems. “An anti-inflammatory diet is high in fibre-rich foods, which promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut (one way the diet assists to control inflammation),” says registered dietitian Maxine Smith. A FODMAP diet, which is low in fermentable carbohydrates, is low in fibre and may be beneficial for some people with gastrointestinal problems. In general, a low FODMAPs diet isn’t recommended for people unless they have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome that hasn’t responded to other treatments or dietary changes.

Watermelon: Avoid

Watermelon: Avoid
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This lovely summer treat isn’t as harmless as all the water it contains. Watermelon is high in fructose, fructans and polyols, which are FODMAPs. Remember, the more the FODMAPs, the more potential for tummy trouble in people who are sensitive to them.

Fermented foods: Enjoy some, avoid some

Fermented foods: Enjoy some, avoid some
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Some fermented foods are good for your tummy; others can create problems for certain people, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School. Fermented foods include wine, cheese, vinegar, miso, yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles. In yoghurt, milk is combined with bacteria that break down some of the lactose, so what remains may be easier for your stomach to process. So fermented foods such as yoghurt are often considered “probiotic foods” that are good for your gut. Look for dairy products that are low in lactose and your digestion should be A-OK.

Learn more about the benefits of probiotics.

Pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds: Avoid

Pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds: Avoid
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Most nuts are good for your tummy, but pistachios and cashews are high in fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), both FODMAPs. Hazelnuts and almonds are a little higher in FODMAPs than some other nuts so eat them in limited quantities (10 nuts or 1 tablespoon of nut butter per serving). Steer clear of almond milk, which is made with large amounts of almonds.

Here are 12 things your stomach is trying to tell you. 

Acidic foods: Enjoy with caution

Acidic foods: Enjoy with caution
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In almost every list of “the worst foods for digestion,” you’ll find acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes. These are commonly thought to cause heartburn, but studies have shown that acidic foods don’t have any effect on LES pressure (or pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter, a valve that acts as the doorway between the oesophagus and the stomach) and don’t cause heartburn symptoms. However, if you have severe acid reflux that hasn’t been treated and has irritated the oesophagus, acidic foods can be like “salt in the wound.” So if you find that oranges or tomatoes do make your heartburn feel worse, replace them with other fruits.

Also try these 13 natural remedies for heartburn.

Dairy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some

Dairy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some
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Not all dairy foods have equal amounts of lactose, which can cause digestion issues, and even those with lactose intolerance are usually okay with small amounts of lactose. That means that not all milk, cheeses and dairy products are tummy twisters. Hard cheeses, like cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan, generally have less than a gram of lactose per serving. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you may want to avoid dairy such as “chocolate shakes or drinks, milkshakes, whole milk fat yoghurt, whole milk fat (4%) cottage cheese, and full-fat cheese.”

Here are 10 more easy ways to improve gut health. 

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Soy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some

Soy foods: Enjoy some, avoid some
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Whole soybeans (often sold as edamame), like other beans, are a source of GOS, which are hard-to-digest chains of sugars. Tofu and tempeh are made using processes that eliminate some of the GOS, making them easier on your digestion. What about soy milk? It depends. If soy milk is made with only soybean isolates or soy protein, then it should be low in FODMAPs. Soy milk made with whole soybeans is likely a source of GOS, making it a gassy beverage for some, so read the ingredients.

Blackberries: Avoid

Blackberries: Avoid
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Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries – which is the odd one out here? Blackberries are also rich in antioxidants, but they have sugar alcohols called polyols, which are difficult to digest and can cause some real problems if your stomach is sensitive. (Check out these foods that GI doctors always avoid.)

Tomato and tomato products: Enjoy some, avoid some

Tomato and tomato products: Enjoy some, avoid some
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Fresh and canned tomatoes are fine for your tummy. But tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomato that has excess fructose, a FODMAP that makes it a no-no except in small quantities. And tomato sauces? If they’re homemade, they’re fine to eat (just don’t cook it to the point where all the juices are lost). Most commercial sauces have onions and garlic (FODMAPs), added sugar (which may make it carb-dense), and salt (which bloats you), so steer clear of the store-bought variety.

Grapefruit: Enjoy with caution

Grapefruit: Enjoy with caution
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Grapefruit does have hard-to-digest fructans, so you should try to limit how much you eat. A few sections should be okay, but don’t eat a half a grapefruit. If you’re looking for citrus, lemon, lime and oranges are your best bets.

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