The main function of our digestive system is digestion and absorption. After eating, the digestive system works on breaking down the food into small pieces and molecules, which are, then, absorbed by the body if they are nutrients or eliminated if they are undigested.
The energy and time this process takes depend on the nature and the nutritional profile of the eaten food. Meaning that theoretically speaking every food can be digested in a small or big time. Yet, the preparation of the food, our lifestyle and our health conditions are all factors that make our stomach does not react well in some cases.
The health of the digestive system is very important for the overall health and feeling well. That is why, to avoid these stomach issues, it is sometimes good to give a rest to our digestive system by eating easy to digest foods that will help it get a break and work, then more smoothly.
So, what does easy-to-digest mean and why are some foods tolerated by our body and others not?
What Does “Easy to Digest” Mean?
After the ingestion, the food moves along the digestive tract. Then, it is broken down into small molecules by the mechanical digestion through the stomach muscular churning and by the secretion of digestive enzymes.
The molecules that are nutrients move to the blood and vessels and those undigested are eliminated.
That is why, when people tend to feel that some foods are harder to digest than others are, it means that they need more time to be digested and can give some side effects like gas, heartburn and bloating.
In general, foods that are rich in good fiber are harder to digest as fiber slows the movement of digested material through to digestive tract.
Foods high in fat and also some proteins from animal products take time to be broken down.
It is commonly agreed that foods containing simple carbohydrates with no fiber or those that are rich in protein with no carbohydrates are absorbed rapidly and are considered easy to digest foods.
What Conditions Easy to Digest Foods May Help?
Foods that are digested easily can help with many conditions. On the one hand, for people who like to exercise, it is better to take easy to digest foods before and after the workout. This is very helpful if you like to work out in the mornings and find it difficult to start anything on an empty stomach.
On the other hand, if you have indigestion, heartburn, reflux or diarrhea you should eat these foods. Moreover, some gastrointestinal problems like intestinal surgery, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach flu and others can lead to digestive issues. So, it is recommended to eat foods that move smoothly through your stomach to ease their symptoms.
Therefore, even that salads and foods high in fiber and animal proteins are very nutritional for our health, they need an important time to be digested. It is, then, important to take foods easily digestible if you experience the above symptoms or simply take them, from time to time, to give a rest to your gut.
Which Foods are Easy to Digest?
Whether, you experience some digestive issues, you are recovering from an illness, you want to feel comfortable before or after a workout or just you want to relax your gut. Here is a list of 21 easy to digest foods that will help you keep your digestive system running smoothly.
Banana is a high nutrient fruit rich in vitamin A, vitamin B6, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium and manganese that are beneficial for the overall health.
Bananas are primarily composed of carbs that are known to be smooth for digestion. Following the ripeness of the banana, these carbs are in the form of starch or sugar. In other words, ripe bananas are easier to digest than unripe ones.
Unripe and green bananas are high in resistant starch that ends up undigested until the large intestine and acts, there, as a prebiotic that feeds the beneficial gut bacteria and promotes colon heath.
As this fruit ripens, its resistant starch breaks down into simple sugars, which makes it softener and more digestible.
Rice is a good source of manganese, magnesium and vitamin B6 essential for bone health and boosting the metabolism.
The brown variety of rice is known to be richer in these nutrients than the white one. Yet, as brown rice is higher in fiber and includes all the part of the grain, it is less easy for digestion than the white rice, which is broken down to sugar faster as it does not contain these grain parts, bran and germ.
It is also important to notice that cooling the rice after boiling makes it less digestible as the amount of resistant starch becomes higher.
3. Toast with Butter
It is widespread that toast is the basic element of any bland diet. This is because it is very friendly for the stomach and gut as digestion is concerned.
This sliced bread browned by heat exposure is low in fiber and is full of simple carbs, which makes it easily digestible.
Adding butter makes the meal more delicious. Yet, be careful to choose low fat variety to keep its digestion smooth and fast.
Yogurt is an excellent source of many nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and phosphorus.
Many studies show that yogurt consumption can help ameliorate diet quality and the body metabolism. Even for people that are lactose intolerant, consuming yogurt can be done in moderate quantities, as it high in lactic acid bacteria.
It is very rich in probiotics that are friendly bacteria very beneficial for gut health, digestive health and, thus, for the overall health.
Yogurt can also prevent diarrhea and reduce bloating symptoms.
Nuts are among the best nutrient-dense foods you can take if you love snacks. They are high in B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium and other vitamins and minerals beneficial for the overall health.
Yet, if nuts are easy to digest for some people, others can feel uncomfortable after eating them as they contain some compounds like phytates that inhibit minerals absorption.
Thus, to eat nuts without getting an upset stomach, a special preparation is needed. By soaking, fermenting or sprouting them, they become easier aand smoother to digest for everyone as the above compounds are broken down.
Applesauce is a sauce made of apples, some spices like cinnamon and sugar or honey.
As it is very high in pectin, a soluble fiber, applesauce is very good for digestion, preventing diarrhea and promoting the probiotics’ growth that are responsible for gut health.
It is, then, good for digestion and help keep foods moving smoothly through your digestive tract.
Sauerkraut is a finely cut cabbage fermented by different lactic acid bacteria.
With a special sour taste, this fermented cabbage help feeding the good bacteria and, thus, promoting gut health.
Sauerkraut is not only easily digestible, but also helps foods in a meal get smoothly through the digestive tract.
Egg is a nutrient dense food. It is among the foods that are high in proteins with high amino acid score, especially in the white.
Eggs are also a source of several nutrients like B2 vitamin, D vitamin that is important for bones health, selenium, copper, iron and others. For that reason, many dieticians say that eating one egg a day can prevent some diseases and is beneficial for the overall health.
Moreover, eggs are easy to digest and are recommended for people having digestive issues as they can help with stomach virus, IBS and nausea. Yet, if some find that yolk is difficult to digest, as it is high in fat, it is recommended to choose the white part.
Oatmeal is commonly a widespread recipe used in breakfast based on boiling oats on water and milk. It is a rich nutrient food containing several vitamins and minerals like B1 and B5 vitamin, folate, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and copper.
This makes oatmeal incredibly beneficial for health and for the digestive system as it contains the soluble fiber beta-glucan that improves good bacteria’s growth on the digestive tract. Thus, oatmeal is very smooth for digestion and can be included in a diet designed for people having digestive issues.
Avocado consumption is commonly associated with many health benefits. This fruit is high in nutrients like vitamin K, B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, Potassium, copper, monounsaturated fatty acid and is also a high protein fruit.
Avocado is low in sugar and high in dietary fiber, which makes it good for feeding the friendly bacteria and making foods going smoothly through the digestive tract.
Yet, if this fruit is easily digestible for many people, it can upset the stomach of those having IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) due to containing a type of short-chain carbohydrates that people with IBS can be sensitive to.
11. Bone Broth
It is now being recognized that bone broth is incredibly beneficial for heath. Whether it is chicken, beef or fish bone broth, they all have numerous benefits.
Bone broth is good for overcoming food sensitivities and intolerances and for having a healthy gut. In other words, studies show that gelatin contained in it supports the intestinal health and integrity.
This makes bone broth digestible smoothly and even help digest other foods by soothing the digestive system.
Chicken is a great quality protein source. One chicken breast (meat only) can provide 53% of the daily-recommended intake of protein.
Chicken is also a valuable source of Zinc and other nutrients like niacin, B6 vitamin, phosphorus and selenium.
It is also no fiber, which makes it ideal for people having digestive issues. Yet, if this lean protein meat is easy to digest, it is recommended to avoid fried chicken as the oil can upset the stomach.
Similarly to chicken, turkey is a high protein meat containing no carbs and, then, no fiber.
It is recommended to remove the skin containing fats that can be heavy for digestion.
14. Lean Fish
We say that fish are lean when they are low in fat such as flounder, cod, sole, halibut, red snapper and others.
Lean fish are dense nutrient foods containing vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorous, selenium and other nutrients.
They are easily digestible foods, as they are high in protein with no carbs and no fiber, which make them ideal for the digestive system.
Salmon is a fatty fish rich in B12 vitamin. In spite of containing high amount of fat, it is considered an easy to digest food light on the stomach, as it is high in the healthy fat, the omega 3 fatty acids that are generally tolerated.
Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their numerous benefits on health from reducing anxiety to improving vision and preventing brain decline.
To keep its digestion easy, it is recommended to take salmon baked.
16. Cooked or Canned Fruits
If eating raw fruits can cause stress on stomach due to their richness in fiber and nutrients, cooked or canned fruits can be an alternative in order not to abstain yourself from their benefits and delicious tastes.
Cooking fruits lowers the amount of fiber making them easier to digest.
It is also recommended to remove skin and seeds, as they tend to contain insoluble fiber.
Pumpkin is a high nutrient zero calorie food that can be used in many recipes from pies to beverages due to its yummy taste.
Eaten cooked, this vegetable is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.
It is high in carbs and has a smooth texture, which makes it easy for digestion, gut healing and soothing the digestive system. The raison why it is given to babies in form of soup.
18. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is a dense nutrient food. One medium cooked sweet potato can provide you with 475% of your daily-recommended intake of vitamin A, 32% of vitamin C, 12% of vitamin B6, 20% of manganese and many others.
Besides, sweet potato is great for digestion due to being high in dietary fiber mainly starch that helps preventing constipation.
This combination of magnesium, dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C makes this vegetable good for facilitating and soothing the digestion, curing stomach ulcers and healing gut and intestines.
19. Boiled Potatoes
Potato is easily digestible if boiled until getting soft and, then, eaten without skin.
Cooking potatoes make the resistant starch easier for digestion. More precisely, boiling potatoes reduces the amount of the resistant starch contained than baking them.
Thus, the boiled potatoes are the best choice for a smooth digestion.
Kimchi is considered one of the healthiest food in the world. It is very popular in Korea.
Made primarily of three anticancer components, cabbage, onion and garlic, kimchi contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron and potassium.
This fermented food is high in healthy probiotics that help improve the immune system, are gut and colon healing, have anti-inflammatory properties and help soothe the digestion.
Ginger is nowadays the most used dietary condiment. It has many benefits for health and can be added into your diet in different forms, fresh, dried, as an essential oil or in a juice form.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the therapeutic compounds it contains, ginger is very beneficial for relieving nausea, for preventing stomach ulcers and for promoting a good digestion and a quick stomach emptying.
It is, then, good to take some ginger with meals to sooth digestion and make it easy.
Yet some people, even if it is rare, can report some discomfort. Thus, it is recommended to take it in very moderate amounts and to talk to your doctor if you manifest some sensitivity symptoms.
Foods that Commonly Cause Indigestion
On the other side of what is written above, some foods are commonly known to be hard for digestion and to upset the stomach if you manifest some digestive issues.
For instance, high fiber foods, in spite of being nutritious, are hardly digestible. Foods high in fats, caffeine, and alcohol also have the same impact.
Moreover, not only the food nutritional profile is taken into account, but also the way of cooking can affect digestion. In other words, frying foods make them very hard to digest due to oil they will contain.
We can add also corn, chocolate, chili pepper, berries, coffee, tea, spicy and greasy foods, beef meat, dairy, whole grains, raw vegetables and others to be hard for digestion.
1 – How can we improve our digestion?
Many ways can be used to improve your digestion. For instance, you can cleanse your body using detox waters made at home like cucumber water, apple cinnamon detox water, blueberry and orange detox water, lemon detox water and many others.
You can also practice yoga or take easy-to-digest foods that will help you relax your gut, as listed above.
2 – What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are macronutrients like proteins and fats that provide energy to the body. All macronutrients are obtained through diet and are not produced by the body.
Carbohydrates are mainly sugar, fiber and starch that are found in milk products, grains, vegetables and fruits. They are important for brain and muscles functioning.
Yet, following the glycemic index that measures how quickly carbohydrates raises blood sugar, we can classify if these carbohydrates obtained from this diet are good or bad.