TOP 5 Food Groups That Are Easy to Digest

If you’ve ever suffered from a bad case of food poisoning, you likely know that choosing simple, easy to digest foods like plain crackers can help quell symptoms of indigestion.

The easiest foods to digest tend to be low in dietary fiber and fat. They’re also milder in flavor, meaning they typically lack acidity and heat. Foods that are soft or easy to chew and swallow are also more digestible than dry, chewy, or tough foods.

Foods that are easy to digest give your GI system a bit of a break. After all, digestion requires energy. This includes mechanical energy, like the chewing that happens in the mouth, as well as chemical energy, like the work done by acid in the stomach and digestive enzymes in the small intestine.1

Choosing easy to digest foods when you’re feeling under the weather, or experiencing indigestion or other GI symptoms like diarrhea can help give your GI tract a rest.2 It essentially makes your body work a little less hard to make digestive processes happen.

Below, five easy-to-digest food groups to emphasize when your stomach or bowels are feeling off.
White Flour Products

Most people could do to increase their fiber intake, but if you’re dealing with GI upset, temporarily choosing lower fiber foods may be recommended.

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that moves through your digestive tract without getting broken down.3

High-fiber foods like whole grains can increase the amount of undigested food moving through the GI system and speed up intestinal motility, making them more harmful than helpful if you're experiencing symptoms like abdominal bloating and diarrhea.4

Refined grain products like white rice, white bread, and white pastas have had their fiber components removed.5 Temporarily opting for these lower fiber foods can give your intestines a break when you're experiencing digestive discomfort.6
Best and Worst Foods for Bloating
Peeled, Canned, or Stewed Fruits

Some fresh fruits are particularly high in fiber and are therefore tougher to digest. The bulk of the dietary fiber in fruits is found in their peels and seeds.6 For example, raspberries are one of the highest fiber fruits on account of their sizable seeds.7

You may find it helpful to choose lower fiber fruits, like ripe bananas or melon, if you’re struggling with GI symptoms like nausea or diarrhea.8 Removing the skin on fruits like apples and pears is also recommended when you're actively struggling with digestive issues.6

Softer fruits like stewed plums or canned peaches are good options as well. If you buy canned fruit, look for products that have been packaged in water instead of syrup to reduce the added sugar content.
Well Cooked Vegetables

Just like fresh fruits, raw vegetables are harder to digest compared to cooked vegetables.9 When vegetables are cooked, their plant cell walls become softer and their constituents (like starches) become more readily accessible to digestive enzymes in the body.10 As a result, they're gentler on the digestive system.8

Easy-to-digest vegetables include well cooked:9Zucchini and squash (with seeds removed)
Potatoes (with skins removed)
Green beans
Soft Proteins

Though animal proteins don’t contain fiber, they can still be hard to digest if they are tough, chewy, or high in fat.9

Choose tender, easy-to-chew proteins that contain low or moderate amounts of dietary fat. Examples include: scrambled eggs and lean ground meats.

Plant-based proteins like smooth nut butters and soft scrambled tofu are also nourishing options that are generally well tolerated.

What About Dairy?

When it comes to dairy and digestion, the answer is: it depends. If you suffer from even mild lactose intolerance, consuming dairy may exacerbate your digestive discomfort.

However, some people may benefit from the probiotics found in fermented dairy products like yogurt or kefir. Plus, these high-protein ingredients are soft and easy to swallow.

If you tolerate dairy, choose low-fat dairy products when digestion is compromised. Low-fat dairy tends to be easier on digestion compared to full-fat dairy.11
Soups, Smoothies, and Purees

How foods are prepared can impact their digestibility. While texture modification strategies like blending don't change foods' fiber content, they can help reduce the size of the fiber particles in plant foods, which can in turn make them gentler on the digestive system.8

Consider raw versus cooked kale. Whereas raw kale is bulky and tough, kale that's been cooked and blended into a soup is soft. This change in texture may allow for improved digestibility.12

The same goes for fibrous fruits, like berries, that are blended into smoothies. Pulverizing berries' seeds in the blender won't diminish their fiber content, but it can help kickstart the mechanical digestion process that normally begins in your mouth.
Juicing vs. Blending
What Are the Hardest Foods to Digest?

Hard-to-digest foods may depend on the root cause of your symptoms. For example, peppermint tea can be problematic for people struggling with GERD, but helpful for people struggling with mild stomach upset or nausea.

Not all of the foods listed below will exacerbate your symptoms. The foods you can and can’t tolerate are individual and will depend on why you are experiencing GI symptoms in the first place.

Commonly hard-to-digest foods can include:13High-fiber and/or raw vegetables, like raw broccoli or cauliflower, artichokes, garlic, and onions14
Foods with tough fibers or thick stems, peels, and seeds, such as broccoli rabe, asparagus, and pomegranates
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