Do you suffer from chronic indigestion? Here are five types of foods that could be cause.
Do you suffer from frequent indigestion, bloating, nausea, and gas? Many Americans do. In some cases, indigestion is due to an underlying medical problem which is why it’s important to see a doctor for symptoms of indigestion that persist. In as many as two-thirds of cases, no obvious cause can be found and the diagnosis falls under the realm of “functional indigestion”. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the symptoms any less unpleasant. If the diet is carefully scrutinized, it may become apparent that certain foods make the symptoms worse. Here are foods that commonly cause stomach upset in people.
Foods That Cause Stomach Upset: Dairy
Up to three-quarters of the world’s adults are deficient in lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. This makes it difficult to digest dairy based milk and cheese. When a lactose intolerant person eats these foods, they aren’t completely digested and hungry bacteria step in and break them down into fermentation products leading to unpleasant gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Fortunately, the missing enzyme can be supplied through products such as Lactaid or by altering the diet so less lactose is consumed. It can be difficult to see the association between lactose and stomach upset since lactose is commonly found in processed foods and even some medications.
Foods That Cause Upset Stomach: Soy Based Products
Soy is a food that’s difficult for many people to digest. Like others beans, it contains oligosaccharides, carbohydrates that the body can’t break down. These oligosaccharides languish in the intestines and are fermented by bacteria leading to gas and bloating. Soy also contains trypsins which interfere with protein digestion. People vary in their individual tolerance to soy products. Some people can better tolerate fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh which have much lower quantities of trypsins and oligosaccharides than they can tofu and soy milk. Soy is another ingredient that’s often “hidden” in packaged foods, so read labels carefully.
Foods That Cause Upset Stomach: Tea and Coffee
The caffeine in coffee and tea can cause indigestion and stomach upset in some people. Coffee is also acidic which can spell trouble for those with acid reflux disease. The tannins in tea can also cause indigestion, although it usually takes large quantities to cause problems. Coffee and tea both stimulate gastric acid secretion which can be a problem for those with ulcers or acid reflux disease.
Foods That Cause Upset Stomach: Spicy Foods
If you experience an upset stomach after eating at a Mexican restaurant, you’re not alone. Hot, spicy foods are notorious for causing indigestion and intestinal discomfort. It’s not just Mexican food that causes problems. Spicy Indian and Thai cuisine can do the same thing. If a spicy meal also happens to be high in fat or topped off with a chocolate dessert or after dinner mint, the symptoms may be even worse. Fatty foods, chocolate, and mint all lower the pressure that holds the flap between the stomach and esophagus in place, increasing the risk of acid reflux.
Foods That Cause Upset Stomach: Nuts
Most people don’t think of nuts as being a food that causes indigestion. Nuts are actually very difficult to digest due to their high fiber and fat content. They move very slowly through the digestive tract, increasing the risk of digestive problems such as bloating and gas. Nuts also contain tannins which can interfere with digestion.
This is by no means a complete list of foods that can cause an upset stomach. The best way to determine which foods are causing digestive problems is to keep a food diary, recording everything eaten along with symptoms. After several weeks, you should start to see a pattern. You can then try eliminating those foods and see if the symptoms improve. If not, see your doctor.