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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Gastrointestinal Problems - What Food to Eat and What Food Not to Eat?

Do you often suffer from digestive problems like gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, or constipation? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with gastrointestinal issues that can affect their mood, energy, and overall well-being. But don’t despair. There’s a lot you can do to improve your digestion and feel better in your gut.

One of the most important factors that influence your digestion is your diet. What you eat can either help or harm your gut health. Some foods can nourish your gut with beneficial bacteria, fiber, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Others can irritate your gut with excess acid, fat, or allergens. By choosing the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, you can make a big difference in how your gut functions and how you feel.

In this article, we’ll show you what foods to eat and what foods not to eat if you have gastrointestinal problems. We’ll also explain why these foods affect your digestion and how they can help or hurt your gut health. Let’s get started!

What Food to Eat

If you want to improve your digestion and support your gut health, here are some foods you should include in your diet:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt is a delicious and nutritious food that can boost your gut health. It’s made from milk that has been fermented by good bacteria called probiotics. These probiotics live in your digestive tract and help break down food, absorb nutrients, and fight off harmful bacteria. They can also ease digestive issues like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. They can even help you digest lactose, the sugar in milk that some people are intolerant to. But not all yogurt has probiotics. Look for yogurt that says “live and active cultures” on the label to make sure you get the benefits.

  • Apples: Apples are not only crunchy and sweet, but also good for your gut. They contain a type of fiber called pectin that feeds the friendly bacteria in your colon. This helps increase the bulk and movement of your stool, which can prevent constipation and diarrhea. It also helps lower the risk of infections and inflammation in your gut.

  • Fennel: Fennel is a vegetable with a bulbous base and feathery leaves that adds a licorice-like flavor to dishes. It’s also a great source of fiber that can keep you regular and prevent constipation. But that’s not all. Fennel also has a natural compound that relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract. This can reduce cramps, gas, and bloating that can make you uncomfortable.

  • Kefir: Kefir is a drink made from milk that has been fermented by yeast and bacteria called kefir grains. It’s similar to yogurt but thinner and tangier. Like yogurt, kefir has probiotics that can improve your digestion and gut health. It can also help you digest lactose better and reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance like bloating, cramping, and gas.

  • Papaya: Papaya is a tropical fruit with a soft orange flesh and black seeds. It’s not only juicy and refreshing but also good for your digestion. It contains an enzyme called papain that helps break down proteins in your food. This can make digestion easier and faster. It may also help relieve symptoms of IBS like abdominal pain.

  • Citrus Peel: Citrus peel is the outer layer of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. It may seem bitter and tough, but it can actually help your digestion. Citrus peel can stimulate your saliva, bile, and gastric juice production, which can aid digestion and prevent food from staying too long in your stomach. It can also help your liver detoxify your body from harmful substances. Plus, citrus peel has a compound called d-limonene (especially in orange peels) that can help your gut muscles move food along and prevent acid reflux and heartburn.

  • Other Foods: There are many other foods that can help your digestion and gut health. Some of them are fermented foods (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha), fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines), high-fiber foods (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans), low-fat foods (such as fish, lean meats), and foods with low acidity (such as vegetables and beans). These foods can provide your gut with fiber, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, or anti-inflammatory compounds that can nourish your gut and protect it from damage.

What Food Not to Eat

If you want to avoid digestive problems and keep your gut healthy, here are some foods you should limit or avoid in your diet:

  • Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can add flavor and heat to your meals, but they can also hurt your gut. Spicy foods can irritate the lining of your stomach and esophagus, causing a burning sensation called heartburn. They can also cause acid reflux, which is when the stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus and throat. This can damage your esophagus and increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Spicy foods can also trigger diarrhea or constipation in some people who have sensitive guts.

  • Fatty Foods: Fatty foods can make you feel full and satisfied, but they can also slow down your digestion and make you constipated. Fatty foods can also make your stomach produce more acid, which can lead to heartburn and GERD. GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a chronic condition that causes frequent acid reflux and inflammation in the esophagus. Fatty foods can also worsen symptoms of IBS by increasing gas production and abdominal pain.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can be fun and relaxing in moderation, but it can also harm your gut in excess. Alcohol can damage the mucous membrane of your stomach and intestines, causing inflammation and bleeding. This can increase the risk of ulcers and gastritis. Alcohol can also interfere with the normal functioning of your digestive enzymes and bacteria, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and diarrhea. Alcohol can also worsen symptoms of IBS by increasing gas production and abdominal pain.

  • Caffeine: Caffeine can give you a boost of energy and alertness, but it can also mess with your digestion. Caffeine can stimulate the secretion of stomach acid and relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause acid reflux and heartburn. It can also act as a diuretic, which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Dehydration can affect your bowel movements and make you constipated or diarrhea. Electrolyte imbalance can affect your nerve and muscle function and cause cramps and spasms in your gut. Caffeine can also worsen symptoms of IBS by increasing cramping, diarrhea, and anxiety.

  • Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated drinks can be refreshing and fizzy, but they can also bloat your gut and make you burp. Carbonated drinks can introduce air into your digestive tract, causing bloating, belching, and gas. They can also increase the pressure in your stomach and weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to acid reflux and heartburn. Carbonated drinks can also worsen symptoms of IBS by increasing gas production and abdominal pain.

  • Dairy Products: Dairy products can be a good source of calcium and protein, but they can also cause digestive problems for some people. Dairy products contain lactose, a type of sugar that some people have difficulty digesting. This can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, and nausea. People who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy should avoid dairy products or use lactase enzyme supplements or lactose-free products. Lactase enzyme supplements can help break down lactose in your gut and prevent symptoms. Lactose-free products are made from milk that has been treated to remove lactose or from plant-based alternatives like soy or almond milk.

  • Gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. It can give bread its chewy texture and help baked goods rise. But it can also cause digestive problems for some people. Gluten can trigger an autoimmune reaction in people who have celiac disease, which is a condition that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. This can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, fatigue, and malnutrition. People with celiac disease should avoid gluten completely to prevent further damage to their gut. Other people may have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which is not an autoimmune disorder but still causes digestive symptoms when gluten is consumed. People with NCGS may benefit from reducing or eliminating gluten from their diet.


Gastrointestinal problems are common and can affect your quality of life. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. You can improve your digestion and relieve your symptoms by eating certain foods and avoiding others. Some foods that can help your digestion include yogurt, apples, fennel, kefir, papaya, citrus peel, and other foods that are rich in fiber, probiotics, or anti-inflammatory compounds. These foods can nourish your gut and protect it from damage. Some foods that can worsen your digestion include spicy foods, fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, dairy products, and gluten. These foods can irritate your gut and cause symptoms like heartburn, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. By following these dietary tips, you can support your gut health and enjoy better digestion. Remember, a happy gut means a happy you!

Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist

Kify Hospital



Phone : 85000 23456

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