The Worst Foods for Digestion, According to Experts

Most people have probably experienced it at one time or another: You eat a big burger or one too many french fries, and for the next couple of hours, you simply don’t want to move. You’re bloated and vow to never eat that much again. 

These kinds of digestive issues are common enough that almost everyone will experience them at one time or another, though the foods that trigger them may vary from one person to another. Here are some of the most common foods that mess with your digestion.

Fried Foods

Fried and fatty foods may taste great, but they can cause digestive issues like diarrhea. This is because the body can’t digest fat as quickly as it digests carbs and protein. Fats in things like olive oil, avocados, and fish are considered “healthy” fats, but refined oils can mess with your hormones and immune health.

Artificial Sweeteners

In a study of FDA-approved artificial sweeteners, researchers found they can seriously mess with your gut’s microbiome. When exposed to these sweeteners, gut bacteria became toxic—which is bad news, considering a healthy microbiome is a key player in gut health!

Too Much Fiber

Fiber is an important nutrient. Soluble fiber (found in oats, beans, and fruit) can help lower cholesterol and glucose and may help the body absorb nutrients better. Insoluble fiber (found in whole grains, beans, and vegetables) promotes digestive regularity and helps prevent constipation. However, eating too many high-fiber foods can cause gas and bloating.

Spicy Foods

Foods that contain chili may also contain capsaicin, which is what gives your food that burning kick. Some studies show that capsaicin slows digestion down, causing food to remain in the stomach for a longer period of time. When this happens, you may have an increased risk of heartburn.

Acidic Foods

Citrus fruits are naturally high in acid and can irritate the stomach lining. Not all acidic foods will make your mouth pucker like citrus does. Some acidic foods may even surprise you—if you’ve ever gotten a stomach ache after drinking coffee or soda or eating tomato sauce, it may be because of their high acid content.

Processed Foods

Processed foods (think chips, bacon, instant ramen, etc.) lack the fiber of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Eating too much processed foods can cause constipation and make stomach discomfort worse. Additionally, the additives in these foods may irritate people with allergies or sensitive stomachs.


Alcohol’s most famous side effects are slurred or incoherent speech, clumsiness, poor reflexes, and mood changes. However, drinking alcohol can also increase the amount of acid in your stomach. Not only can this irritate your stomach lining, but it can also cause heartburn and nausea

Want to do more to balance your body’s microbiome? Learn how.

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