Top 10 easy to digest foods
Not all foods are destined to go down easy—These are easy to digest foods you should be putting on your shopping list.
When you feel the familiar pangs of stomach pain, it's not always easy to identify which foods are the culprits. To make matters more confusing, some foods take longer to digest than others—and that can mean they can cause problems later on, even though they had no effect after you ate them.
So, which are easy to digest foods, and which should you steer clear of when you’re feeling queasy?
Top 10 easy to digest foods
Eggs are an incredibly easily digestible food, as they have a complete protein profile—this means that they contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies can't produce on their own. In addition to being rich in protein, eggs are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like choline (important for memory), vitamin A (essential for vision), and vitamin D (required for healthy bones).
Bananas are easy to digest, so they're great for people who have an upset stomach or an irritated digestive tract. They contain a high amount of potassium, which can help reduce muscle cramps, and they're also high in fibre which helps your digestive system run smoothly. Bananas also contain vitamin B6 and vitamin C, which as an added bonus, are both are beneficial for your immune system.
White rice is a great choice if you’re looking for easy to digest foods. It’s a complex carbohydrate, which means it provides your body with energy slowly and steadily over time instead of all at once. White rice also provides fibre and other nutrients that are hard to find in some other foods, such as minerals like manganese and selenium, vitamin B6 and thiamine (a nutrient that helps convert food into energy).
Fish is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and selenium. Research shows that the omega-3 fatty acid content in fish can help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. It's easier on the stomach than meat, as fish contains less fat and connective tissues, and a softer cell structure compared to beef or pork.
If you have trouble digesting grains, milk, or gluten, and are looking for easy to digest foods for breakfast, try porridge. It can be made with oats or muesli (a combination of rolled oats, nuts and dried fruits), and it’s easy on the stomach due to high levels of fibre and low-fat protein. Porridge is perfect for those who suffer from digestive issues.
Sweet potatoes are also a good source of soluble fibre (the kind that helps lower cholesterol) and insoluble fibre (the kind that promotes bowel regularity). One medium sweet potato also has about 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A—an antioxidant that helps promote healthy skin and vision—plus 10 percent of your daily recommended intake for vitamin C.
Yogurt contains plenty of calcium, protein and B vitamins, as well as probiotics (or gut-friendly bacteria) which help to improve digestion. It's important to note that many store-bought yogurts contain high levels of sugar and artificial ingredients, which can have an adverse effect on your digestive system—instead opt for plain Greek yogurt, and add natural sweeteners like honey or berries.
Chicken is a great choice if you're on the lookout for easy to digest foods. It’s a lean meat that has less fat and cholesterol than pork or beef, which means it's much easier on the stomach. When you're feeling under the weather, chicken is a great source of protein and will help to keep your energy levels up. Chicken is also an excellent source of iron, which helps to prevent anaemia.
Fruit puree is a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Pureeing fruit will help to increase its digestibility, which is helpful when your stomach is upset. Fruit puree is also a great way to get some fibre into your diet, which can help to keep things moving. If you're suffering from constipation or diarrhoea, it's a good idea to avoid foods that are high in fibre until your symptoms have passed.
Toast is a good source of carbohydrates and will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. It's also rich in B vitamins, which can support with feeling sick. If you're suffering from diarrhoea, it's important not to eat anything too fatty or greasy as this will make symptoms worse, so plain toast is a great option if you can stomach solid food.
Which foods are the hardest to digest?
While there are many foods that are easy to digest, others can be particularly difficult. Too much of the wrong type of food can make your stomach feel heavy, bloated or crampy. If you want to avoid this, steer clear of the following foods:
— Processed and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice and sugar
— Dehydrated fruits and vegetables such as dried fruit or veggie chips
— Caffeine from coffee, tea, and fizzy drinks
— Lactose from dairy products like cheese or ice cream
— Greasy, fast food and takeaways such as pizza or burgers
— Salty food like crisps, salted nuts and processed meats
It's important to be aware of easy to digest foods that will be a soothing presence in your stomach, and those that might cause complications or discomfort. Maintaining a balanced is key to this—focus on eating easily digestible foods that provide your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and healthy fats it needs to stay healthy.