MoneyINC Logo
Years of

The 20 Worst Foods for Digestion

Weahervane Seafood

You might have noticed that after eating certain foods you feel bloated or overfull, even when you haven't overeaten. Some foods are easier to digest than others. There are some foods that the body simply cannot digest. This is why doctors put some of their patients on diets that restrict certain foods or cut them out altogether. Here are the 20 worst foods for digestion.

20. Chili peppers

Chili Peppers can be delicious when used to flavor and spice up food dishes. In smaller amounts, they don't usually create a problem unless you suffer from digestive issues. People with sensitive digestive systems may experience heartburn which set on hours after the chili peppers are consumed. Eating chili peppers late in the evening or within a few hours of bedtime can cause a reflux of acid when you lie down flat, so it's never a good idea to eat foods that contain chili peppers right before bed or nap time.

19. Chocolate

Chocolate is another food that is known to cause digestive issues. While everyone is different, some individuals have to limit the amount of chocolate that they eat or avoid it altogether because it can bring on an upset stomach and heartburn. This happens more often in people who already have digestive disorders. In some cases, it also causes loose stools and diarrhea. If you notice heartburn after eating a treat that contains chocolate, then it's probably to blame for your discomfort.

18. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines are also hard on the digestive system. These fruits are all high in acid, adn when you eat too much in one sitting, it's not uncommon to have a bout of acid reflux. When you eat acidic fruits on an empty stomach, they can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause gas, bloating and even heartburn. Too much acidic fruit can lead to diarrhea as well.

17. Pineapple

Pineapple is a tropical fruit that is also very high in acidic content. Some people love the taste but cannot eat fresh pineapple because it causes a burning sensation in the pit of their stomachs. Again, it's the acid in the fruit that can bring on digestive issues such as painful gas, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, and even diarrhea. Some people even develop sores in the mouth or lips if they eat large amounts of fresh pineapple because of the high acid content. Some people do better with the canned variety which is still tart, but the acid content isn't quite as high.

16. Coffee

Coffee is a beverage that is still classified in the consumables category. Coffee is another one of the worst foods for digestion. This brew can irritate the lining of the stomach and it has led to a cessation in coffee drinking by millions of Americans who have experienced extreme digestive symptoms after drinking a cup. Coffee can cause acid reflux, heartburn, and it can stimulate the need to have a bowel movement. The caffeine in coffee really gets things moving, but it can lead to misery for those who have digestive disorders. It's particularly bad for people with esophageal or stomach ulcers.

15. Tomatoes

Some people with digestive disorders have a hard time digesting tomatoes. Some varieties of tomatoes have a higher acid content than others, so if you love tomatoes, it's a good idea to go with the varieties that are lower in acids, such as the Romas and the heirlooms, Yellow Pear, Sungold, Sweet 100, and Royal Chico.

14. Artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes are also hard for the body to properly digest. Although they may help in reducing the total caloric intake, the health risks may be greater than a few extra calories. Those who have digestive issues in many cases are warned by their doctors to avoid these alternative sweeteners because they can cause gas, diarrhea and bloating. Artificial sweeteners are not fully absorbed by the body which may lead to these unpleasant symptoms. These are symptoms that can develop for people without digestive issues and those with them may suffer from more intense pain and discomfort. These foods, however, have been found to be beneficial for those with diabetes and other health conditions, if they do not induce digestive problems. Some people tolerate them better than others.

13. Potato chips

Potato chips are another food that can cause digestive issues. The high-fat content and carbohydrates may pass through the body more rapidly, but as they do they can cause gas, cramping and bloating. Most potato chips are highly processed and they're not good for your weight or blood sugar either. Most potato chips are highly processed and contain high amounts of grease, salt and preservatives.

12. Dairy products

There are some people who cannot digest lactose. While this isn't a problem for everyone, those who are lactose intolerant may suffer from mild to extreme degrees of discomfort and digestive problems from ingesting dairy products such as milk, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, cheese, ice cream and foods that contain real milk products. The symptoms can range from mild gas, nausea, or loose bowels to extreme cramping, diarrhea heartburn and bloating. Some people who are lactose intolerant do alright with yogurt and aged cheeses because of the bacteria that they contain which stimulates digestion.

11. Whole grains and wheat bran

Whole grains and wheat bran are insoluble fiber which is not digestible. This does not mean that you should avoid these foods, however. Insoluble fiber is a necessity for maintaining good health and adding the bulk to the stool which is necessary to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut. Keep eating your wheat bran and whole grains to get the fiber your body depends upon, but it is still one of the worst foods for digestion.

10. Oats

Oats are a soluble fiber which does not digest in the human system. Even though they do not digest, they are a healthy food choice because they help to keep our digestive systems running smoothly. The soluble fiber slows down the digestion process and it has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health. While your body doesn't digest these foods, and we don't get any energy from them they're still very good for you, they just don't digest. Keep eating your oatmeal if your body will tolerate it because it's good for you, but there are some people who experience diarrhea from eating cooked oats and those found in some processed breakfast cereals.

9. Fried foods

Fried food is notorious for causing acid reflux and heartburn. While in small amounts some people who are otherwise healthy may not develop any digestive symptoms from fried foods, but for those who already have issues, these are foods that most physicians recommend staying away from. Fried foods overwhelm the stomach leading to irritation and upset stomach. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome should avoid fried foods as they can intensify the symptoms.

8. Butter and cream

Although technically, these are dairy products, Butter and cream which are made from dairy, as well as some which are non-dairy are still high in fat. This can also cause problems for people who have digestive problems. Heavy cream and butter are also heavier foods which can increase pain and symptoms in people who have irritable bowel syndrome. Some dishes which are very rich are made with real butter and cream which both have high-fat content. This can cause a lot of trouble for people with digestive disorders.

7. Alcohol

Alcohol is often used in beverages and in some foods such as rum balls and other confections. Alcohol is known for causing acid reflux and heartburn. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the lining of the stomach, which can cause cramping and diarrhea. While small to moderate amounts are often tolerated, larger amounts can lead to serious discomfort as it also impaires some enzymes responsible for the absorption of nutrients. So alcohol is not only rough on the human digestive system, it can also rob your body of important nutrients.

6. White bread, and other highly processed foods

White bread is a highly refined food that has undergone a great deal of processing. Many of the nutrients are removed during the process, and white bread moves quickly through the digestive system. This can cause gas, bloating and cramping. In addition to this, there are other foods that are highly processed which fall under the same category. Foods with refined sugar, bleached flour and those which are made with ingredients that are not natural can pose a risk for sensitive digestive tracts. In addition to white bread, a few examples of these are corn chips, processed cheese, pork rinds which are boiled in oil, corn dogs, bakery items such as commercially made pies, cookies, cakes, and other pastries and confections.

5. Corn

Corn is a grain that contains a high amount of cellulose. this is a compound that the human digestive tract cannot break down. In most cases, people who eat corn pass it right through their systems and when it exits, it is undigested. For some people, corn can lead to gas, abdominal pain and cramps as it makes its way through the digestive system.

4. Sweetened breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals that contain a high amount of sugar are considered to be junk food because of the problems that they can cause in the digestive system. These foods are overprocessed and usually contain a high amount of sugars and additives which may include nitrates, phosphoric acids and other ingredients which can cause irritation to the lining of the gut. Some sweetened breakfast cereals have a very low nutritional value and when making your decision on which brands of cereal to buy, try to avoid those which are loaded with unfamiliar ingredients which can actually end up being very bad for your health.

3. Carbonated beverages

Carbonated beverages are among the worst foods for digestion for people who suffer from digestive disorders. These beverages are also acidic, which is something that many people are not aware of. Consuming carbonated beverages can cause an upset stomach. While some people believe that the carbonation in soft drinks can help to relieve heartburn and indigestion, it also has the potential to make the symptoms more intense.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine may not actually be a food, but it is found in many of the foods and beverages that we eat and drink. Caffeine is present in chocolate, in cocoa, some soft drinks, tea, and foods that contain these ingredients. Caffeine is a gastrointestinal tract stimulant and it makes the contents move more rapidly through the body. When you consume large amounts of caffeine when you're already experiencing digestive issues such as loose stools or diarrhea, you can expect these symptoms to become much worse. Foods that contain chocolate also have caffeine in them and eating chocolate puddings, cakes, cookies, and other dishes can really make you feel miserable.

1. Expired foods

Many of the foods that we store in our refrigerators come with expiration dates on the labels. Foods that are eaten past the recommended expiration date pose a serious risk to the digestive system. After the pull date, these foods can go bad at any time, and if you eat them they can make you very sick with digestive problems. Tainted foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue abdominal cramps and muscle pain. These are the symptoms of food poisoning, which can become lethal. Expired foods are among the biggest threats to digestive health. You should always check the labels on foods stored in the refrigerator and those which are stored in your pantry should be checked as well. Some of the worst culprits for causing digestive issues are eggs, dairy products, and meat.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

Related Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with our most recent guides and articles on , freshly curated by our diligent editorial team for your immediate perusal.
As featured on:

Wealth Insight!
Subscribe to our Exclusive Newsletter

Dive into the world of wealth and extravagance with Money Inc! Discover stock tips, businesses, luxury items, and travel experiences curated for the affluent observer.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram