11 Foods to Avoid When You Have Digestive Problems

Digestive problems refer to various conditions that can affect the digestive system, such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease. These conditions can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn. Some digestive problems may also be associated with nutritional deficiencies or weight loss. In some cases, digestive issues may be caused by lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, or lack of exercise, while in other cases, they may be caused by underlying medical conditions.

There are many digestive problems, each with its causes and symptoms. Some common examples include

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):

A disease that causes heartburn and other symptoms when stomach acid rushes back into the esophagus.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):

This long-term disorder of the large intestine can result in diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):

Encompasses inflammatory disorders that affect the digestive system chronically, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Celiac disease:

It is an autoimmune condition that affects the small bowel that arises when the body is unable to handle gluten, a protein present in whole grains.

Lactose intolerance:

It occurs when lactose, a sugar present in milk and other dairy products, cannot be effectively digested by the body.

Table showing Types of digestive problems.

It's essential to see a doctor if you have persistent digestive problems. Your doctor may perform diagnostic tests such as stool analysis, blood tests, or imaging scans to help identify the underlying cause of your symptoms. In some cases, treatment may include changes to your diet, lifestyle, or medications. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

What are the foods to avoid?

A variety of foods can be problematic for people with digestive problems, and the specific foods that should avoid will depend on the individual and their particular condition. However, some common foods that may be problematic for people with digestive problems include:-

  • Fried and high-fat foods − Fried meals are heavy in fat and can slow down digestion. Examples include French fries and fried chicken. This can lead to discomfort and pain in the stomach. High-fat foods can also worsen symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn.

  • Spicy foods − Spicy foods, such as chili peppers and hot sauce, can cause acid reflux and heartburn. They can also irritate the stomach lining and cause discomfort.

  • Dairy products − Some people may find dairy products like dairy, butter, and curd difficult to digest., particularly those with lactose intolerance. Consuming dairy products can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

  • Gluten-containing foods − Grain, maize, and rye all contain the protein known as gluten. For those who are gluten sensitive or have celiac illness, consuming gluten-containing foods can cause inflammation in the small intestine and lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

  • Foods that are high in fiber − Foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can be challenging to digest and may cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It's important to note that while these foods are generally healthy, those with digestive problems should consume them in moderate amounts and talk to their healthcare provider if they experience symptoms.

  • Caffeine and alcohol − Caffeine and alcohol can cause acid reflux and heartburn. They can also contribute to dehydration, which can exacerbate symptoms of constipation.

  • Certain fruits and vegetables − Some fruits and vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and certain berries, can cause gas and bloat. These foods should be avoided or consumed moderately if they cause symptoms.

  • Artificial sweeteners − Some people may experience stomach cramps and diarrhea after consuming products with artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol)

  • Processed foods − Salt and sugar levels are high in packaged foods like packaged meals and ready meals, and preservatives which can be hard on the digestive system, leading to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

  • Red Meat − Red meat is high in fat and can be challenging to digest, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain and heartburn.

  • Carbonated drinks − Carbonated drinks can cause bloating and gas, which can be incredibly uncomfortable for people with digestive problems.

It is important to note that not everyone will have the same reaction to these foods, and what may be a problem for one person may not be for another. Also, it's essential to speak with a healthcare professional, such as a dietitian or a gastroenterologist, to determine which foods may be causing problems for you and to devise a personalized plan for managing your symptoms.

What are the disadvantages of Digestive Problems?

Digestive problems can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and overall health. Some of the main disadvantages of digestive problems include-

  • Pain and discomfort − Many people with digestive problems experience abdominal pain, bloating, and despair. This can make it challenging to go about daily activities and lead to a lack of appetite and weight loss.

  • Diarrhea and constipation − These symptoms can cause significant discomfort and lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

  • Malnutrition − Many people with digestive problems have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food, which can lead to malnutrition and a lack of energy.

  • Social isolation − Some people with digestive problems may feel self-conscious about their symptoms and avoid social situations to avoid embarrassment.

  • Difficulty with daily activities − Digestive problems can make it difficult to travel, work or school, or participate in physical activities.

  • Emotional distress − People with digestive problems can often experience emotional pain, such as anxiety or depression, because of the symptoms and limitations.

  • Medication side-effects − Some medications used to treat digestive problems can have side effects such as nausea, headaches, and fatigue.

  • Complications − Some digestive problems can lead to complications such as bleeding, bowel obstruction, infection, and in some cases, cancer.

It's important to note that some of these disadvantages may not affect every person with digestive problems, and the severity and impact of the symptoms will vary depending on the individual and their specific condition. Working with a healthcare professional to manage symptoms and prevent complications is essential.


Digestive problems can be caused by various factors, such as diet, stress, or underlying medical conditions. Certain foods can exacerbate symptoms and make the situation more difficult to manage. Some common foods to avoid during digestive problems include fried and high-fat foods, spicy foods, dairy products, gluten-containing foods, foods that are high in fiber, caffeine, alcohol, specific fruits and vegetables, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, red meat, and carbonated drinks. It's important to note that not everyone will have the same reaction to these foods, and what may be problematic for one person may not be for another.

Finally, taking care of your overall health and well-being is essential, such as getting enough sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress levels. By working with a healthcare professional and making lifestyle changes, it's possible to manage and alleviate symptoms of digestive problems and improve your quality of life.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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