All of us will, at some point in our lives, experience some sort of stomach upset.
This can be due to a range of things and can look like a bloated stomach, feeling gassy, heartburn, acid reflux, or indigestion…It’s often a pretty uncomfortable experience!
But down below is an easily digested foods list that’ll reduce digestion problems and make your stomach feel better. There are a lot of choices out there and these lists should be useful for those quickly searching out easy to digest foods for an upset stomach.
Easy to Digest Foods
This easily digested foods list contains foods from lots of different categories. Further down below we break the list down into fruits, vegetables, nuts, and drinks, while also mentioning hard to digest foods you should avoid.
But first, in alphabetical order, here are the general best foods for digestion!
1. Bone Broth
Although it may sound like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings, bone broth is actually one of the best foods you can eat to encourage a healthy and effective digestive system.
Bone broth boosts your immunity against stomach infections and inflammation while also promoting healthy bowel movement due to its rich supply of collagen and the gelatin that comes from it.
Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, a certified nutrition consultant, praises bone broth’s effectiveness as follows:
Your gut is getting healthy, your cells are being scrubbed clean, and your metabolism is switching from “sloth” to “cheetah” mode.
The broth also contains glycine which studies show further aids digestion and in the breakdown of fatty acids.
Toast is packed full of simple carbs and starch that are easy for the body to process. But here’s an interesting question for you…is toast easier to digest than bread?
The answer is yes! Why?
Because heating the bread breaks down its starch into dextrin which is what your body does during digestion, thus making it simpler for your body to digest since it’s skipping a stage of digestion.
Moreover, a slice of buttery toast in the morning is not only a good way to lose weight but is also one of those timeless comfort foods ideal for an easy to digest breakfast! But be sure to use low-fat butter or margarine in order to keep it easily digestible.
If you’d rather pass on the butter or margarine, then a good alternative is peanut butter since it helps you feel full longer, and choosing chunky over creamy peanut butter will further aid digestion by providing you with some extra fiber.
Chicken is a lean, white meat that’s the 2nd most eaten meat in the world. It’s also one of the easiest meats to digest due to its high protein to carbohydrate ratio. (In fact, chicken breast contains 80% protein and 0% carbs.)
And better yet, it’s such a versatile meat that you won’t ever find yourself stuck for recipe choices!
Just make sure you don’t fry it since the excess oil and fat is bad for digestion. Caroline West Passerrello, a dietician from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains why:
Fat slows down digestion and takes a toll on your digestive system, which in turn can leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable.
Instead, stick to roasting, baking, boiling, or broiling skinless chicken.
If you’re looking for bland meals for an upset stomach, then look no further than your simple saltine cracker.
Similar to toast as to why they’re one of the easiest to digest foods, crackers are a good choice should you be suffering from nausea, morning sickness, or indigestion.
Registered dietician, Erin Palinski-Wade, says:
The bland nature of a cracker helps to satisfy hunger without the strong smells or tastes that may increase nausea. Starchy foods may also help to absorb stomach acids and settle your stomach.
Being a very light, flavorless option, crackers are the ideal solution for someone wanting to consume some carbohydrates for energy while suffering from nausea or stomach ache.
Are eggs good for an upset stomach? They sure are!
Boiled, poached, or scrambled are your best choices as they don’t contain the additional oil that fried eggs contain. Though I’d personally suggest scrambled for an upset stomach. Scrambled egg is easy for your stomach to break down due to being soft and fluffy.
If your digestive problem is pretty serious however, I’d suggest skipping the fatty egg yolk altogether and eating just the egg white which is packed with protein and contains virtually no fat at all.
There’s a reason why eggs are a staple food around the world!
Jello is often one of the first things somebody is given to eat when they are in the hospital. That’s because it’s so easy to digest and a useful aid in rehydrating, which makes it a great choice should you be suffering from an upset stomach.
A good alternative for those finding the BRAT diet isn’t working (banana, rice, applesauce, and toast), jello in of itself has no particular curative power but is usually gentle enough for the stomach to keep down.
Also, it’s pretty fun to eat and tastes great, so you can’t go wrong!
Another great choice for an easy to digest breakfast, oatmeal is especially easy on the stomach if they’re the instant oat variety served warm.
Instant oats are thinner than rolled oats which makes them easier to digest due to the starch’s structure being broken down and becoming more accessible during digestion.
Despite instant oatmeal being more likely to contain high volumes of sugar, the tradeoff is especially worth it if you can find an instant oatmeal brand with no added sugars.
If all you can find are instant oatmeals with super high volumes of sugar, you may wish to opt for raw oats and flavor it yourself with a bit honey. They may be thicker than instant oats, but the lower sugar content may be better for you in the end.
In short, find what type of oatmeal works best for you and your stomach.
Note: If you’re gluten-intolerant, studies have shown that gluten-free oats are safe for you to eat.
The “R” of the BRAT diet for indigestion (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) presents you with two choices; brown rice or white rice.
Although they’re both easy to digest, white rice is the easier of the two since a lot of its fiber has been removed meaning it is converted to sugar faster and digested quicker.
I’d say white rice wins the contest by a little but it’s up to you…
Just make sure to eat it while it’s hot since, once cooled, some of the starch in the rice turns into indigestible resistant starch.
As one of the most accessible fishes to munch on, tuna is a lean meat that is rich in easily-digestible protein.
This is because animal protein, unlike plant protein, is easy to access and not hindered by tannins. This makes tuna an ideal choice should you be struggling with digestive issues.
It’s also a versatile choice that can be served in a wide variety of ways, some of them delicious, most of them good for you.
Tuna is better eaten steamed, baked, or directly from a tin, but try to avoid frying since this adds excess oils that are harder to digest.
Note: Be sure not to eat excessive amounts of tuna since it has high mercury levels.
10. Stews and Soups
For a hearty, healthy and filling meal you could do a lot worse than having a warm and comforting stew or soup.
But why eat stew or soup for an upset stomach?
Well, for starters, studies indicate that heat can provide short-term reductions in pain.
Moreover, when a strew or soup contains easy to digest foods such as chicken and root vegetables broken down by soaking or blending, the overall result is a dish easier to digest than if the ingredients had been eaten dry and separately.
Yogurt is brilliant for easing any stomach complaints as it is cultured with healthy probiotics such as acidophilus that are beneficial for gut function and can reduce bloating related to inflammatory bowel disease.
But yogurt is also a good option simply because of its soothing and refreshing characteristics.
These days it’s even possible to choose brands that are specifically made for the promotion of healthy digestion.
Note: People who are lactose intolerant can usually eat yogurt in small amounts, even if they can’t consume milk without getting an upset stomach.
Fruits Good for Digestion
Below are some easy to digest fruits to eat when you feel bloated and gassy, or are struggling with some indigestion.
12. All Stewed Fruits
Fresh fruit is great, it’s healthy, nourishing and tasty but it can be a little difficult for the body to break down due to containing more nutrients and enzymes than the cooked variety.
Cooking or stewing fruit helps to speed up the process of breaking it down without losing much of its nutritional value.
Generally, you’ll want to peel the fruit first as the skin will often contain a lot of additional fiber that’s harder to break down. Simply boil them down on a low to medium heat. Your guts will thank you!
While being a stewed fruit, we wanted to highlight applesauce in particular since it’s a staple of the BRAT diet and for those suffering from an upset stomach.
But perhaps you’re wondering why the staple is applesauce rather than mere apples?
This is because, as mentioned above, raw fruits contain more nutrients and enzymes that are harder to break down. With stewed fruits, you’re basically skipping a stage of digestion, which makes it easier on your digestive system.
But applesauce also contains pectin which can help re-establish a healthy gut.
You’ll want to be careful to choose one that isn’t packed with added sugar. But since applesauce is a soft food that’s kind on your digestive system and easy to make at home, there’s no surprise as to why it’s considered one of the best foods for digestion.
And with it being a low-FODMAP fruit, it’s perfect for people suffering from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Another low-FODMAP fruit, a superfood, and a staple of the BRAT diet, the humble banana is a great food to eat if you’re prone to suffering from an upset stomach.
The enzymes in this friendly fruit work similarly to how our own stomachs break down food. So should you be suffering from a stomach virus, a banana should be one of your first choices.
Just make sure to eat only ripe, yellow bananas since unripe, green bananas contain indigestible resistant starch and an overall starch content of 80%. In contrast, ripe, yellow bananas contain a starch content of 1%, which makes them the king of all fruits good for digestion.
These soothing and refreshing fruits are ideal to eat should you be experiencing stomach problems. They’re pretty easy for the stomach to digest and will also help with digestion itself since they’re packed with water (staying hydrated helps the digestion process.)
Moreover, melons contain lots of Vitamin C that, according to this study, reduces the length of common colds in adults by 8% and 14% in children.
Definitely better eaten ripe since unripe melon is more fibrous and harder to digest. A little test for ripeness that you can do is to pick up a melon and give the end a small push. It should give way a little bit in the outer rind without being too mushy or too hard.
Your best bet is to buy a harder melon in the store and let it ripen in your kitchen for a couple of days. Once ripe, it’s best stored in the fridge.
There’s a reason why pumpkins are often one of the first foods given to babies. When cooked well, a pumpkin is soothing, nourishing and very easy to digest.
A great base for soups and stews that will benefit you in all sorts of ways, we recommend stewing it with chicken breast for a filling and easy-on-the-gut treat.
Given that pumpkins have been linked with lower glucose blood levels, this makes the pumpkin, among other things, great for people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, or cellular oxidation stress.
PS. Pumpkin is definitely a fruit rather than a vegetable!
Easy to Digest Vegetables
There are quite a number of hard to digest vegetables, so do your stomach a favor and pass on them and eat these easy to digest vegetables instead!
18. Non-Cruciferous Vegetables
First of all, what are cruciferous vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that have flowers with four petals in the shape of a crucifix (hence the term “cruciferous”.) They’ve been in the public eye a lot recently due to studies suggesting they lower the risk of some types of cancer.
However, for digestion purposes, cruciferous vegetables are not a good option because of their gas-inducing, sulfuric qualities. These include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and others.
Moreover, vegetables tend to contain a lot of fiber which can be a little bit of a challenge to your digestive system should you be suffering from a virus or an upset stomach. So the trick to eating them is to steam them.
This will break down some of the fiber in them without compromising too much on their mineral and vitamin content. Boiling them is also an option here, but this will further reduce the content of good stuff in them.
Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and, with a high quantity of potassium, magnesium and phosphorus among other nutrients, its health benefits are numerous.
It has proven scientific benefits, such as a 1982 study that showed eating ginger was more effective for removing nausea than actual anti-nausea drugs! And some of its other uses are to ease stomach pain.
It’s a very versatile root spice and is well worth considering should you not be feeling great.
If directly eating ginger would be too unpleasant for you then a good alternative is ginger tea. Although you can’t eat it, it will still make a great combination with another easy to digest food since ginger tea is great for soothing the stomach.
PS. In case you were wondering, ginger is indeed a vegetable.
Its fermented vegetables are easy to digest for a similar reason to why steamed vegetables are easier to digest.
In addition, kimchi usually contains fermented carrot, is a traditional Korean favorite, and has the science to back up its claims to helping out your digestion. What’s not to love in this interesting option?
But once boiled, make sure to eat them before they cool off since, as this study indicates, indigestible resistant starch increases when potatoes are cooled in a similar way to as we saw with rice above.
Not only that but they are a great prebiotic food which means that they are full of good bacteria that is crucial for a healthy digestive system. They also contain a good dose of potassium which will helps your body to replace lost electrolytes.
Note: As this study suggests, the variety of potato does not seem to affect digestibility.
Although this might be an acquired taste, this famous German dish of fermented cabbage is a brilliant aid for digestion.
The probiotics help create a healthy PH level of the intestine allowing good bacteria to thrive at the expense of bad bacteria, thus promoting further gut health in a way that normal cabbage can’t.
The downside? Sauerkraut has more salt than boiled cabbage, so you’ll have to monitor your intake a bit more than when you’re eating regular cabbage.
It may not be to everyone’s taste but give it a try!
23. Sweet Potatoes
These tasty things are similar to potatoes in as much as they are high in soluble fiber which is easy for the body to digest.
They are a sweeter and versatile alternative to normal potatoes and can be used in a wide range of easy to digest recipes.
Moreover, the people with the highest life expectancy in the world, the people of Okinawa in Japan, made sweet potatoes 60% of their entire diet. I’m sold!
Easy to Digest Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds feature in many lists as foods that help upset stomachs, and with the sheer number of varieties on offer, it isn’t hard to see why.
Many of them are rich in nutrients that provide a boost to your digestive system and increase life expectancy. They also contain natural types of oil which are useful in digestion.
However, the indigestible phytic acid contained in nuts can make them hard to digest for some people. Moreover, phytic acid can block the absorption of nutrients such as iron and zinc.
So to make nuts easier to digest, you need to “activate” them by soaking them for a while beforehand to remove the phytic acid and chew them to a pulp.
If you want to benefit most from eating nuts and seeds, make sure you only eat these highly digestible ones!
24. Flax Seeds
Small and easy to digest, flax seeds help fight against heart disease while also containing high amounts of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium that decrease the risk of stroke, improve digestion, and aid with bone health respectively.
Studies indicate that the cholesterol-lowering omega-3-fatty acids contained in flax seeds are more easily digested in ground flax seed, which is the best type of flax seed to eat while suffering from an upset stomach.
25. Chia Seeds
As shown in the picture above, studies have shown that eating chia seeds with yogurt can leave you feeling full longer, which is a plus if you’re suffering from nausea.
Also, these tiny fiber-packed seeds can effortlessly go with other easy to digest foods to give you that increase of fiber and help you stay feeling filled up all day.
Definitely, something to stock up on during times of tummy trouble!
This one might be more hit and miss depending on the person, but walnuts (especially when “activated” and chewed to a pulp) are considered friendlier on the gut since they act as prebiotics that help the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut.
Moreover, walnuts contain a polyphenol called pedunculagin which has an anti-inflammatory benefit that aids digestion.
Are roasted almonds hard to digest? Surprisingly, out of all the possible best nuts for digestion, almonds beat the other competition on many accounts.
They are high in fiber and a recent study that saw parents and children increasing their Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores above the national average from eating more almonds demonstrates how they can boost gut health.
In the same study, they also found that eating more almonds changed the gut bacteria leading to healthier digestive systems.
In short, when “activated” and chewed to a pulp, a sprinkling of almonds here or there can be an easy-to-digest food that’ll not only fill you up but will actively promote positive gut health.
Best Drinks for Digestion
It’s probiotic nature also makes kefir a great drink to prevent diarrhea, as studies have shown.
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is made by adding specific strains of bacteria and sugar and yeast to black or green tea. This is then fermented for a week or longer.
Large quantities of probiotic bacteria are created during the fermentation process. And as we know from above, probiotic bacteria is brilliant for helping…that’s right, the digestive system.
Research has shown that kombucha may help heal stomach ulcers because of how it coats your stomach and is rich in antioxidants.
30. Prune Juice
It’s often praised as a classic for easing constipation and other digestive problems, and guess what? It really works!
Prunes contain about 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fruit and 80% of this is soluble fiber, you know—the good type.
Moreover, studies show how prunes can help positively regulate the microorganisms living in your gut.
This all results in a glass of prune juice becoming a strong contender for the best fruit juice for digestion.
Are smoothies good for digestion? As long as the ingredients you use are easy enough to digest individually, then yes!
By processing your fruit and veg into nutrient-rich smoothies you’ll be removing a lot of the fiber that can be a challenge for your body to digest, thus making them even easier to digest. And the great news? You’ll still be retaining a lot of its nutritional value!
These days you can find a huge range of recipes for smoothies that will offer your body all sorts of benefits. It’s definitely something worth looking into.
Here are a few we’ve chosen that have a mixture of ingredients good for digestion:
Apple, Kale and Cucumber Smoothie
Natural, healthy juices are one of the best weapons that we have in the fight against digestive problems.
Why does this particular smoothie work well?
Well, apples contain a good level of the good fiber that aids the regulation of bowel movement and kale is very high in a whole bunch of good things, such as omega-3-fatty acids that aid in reducing the harmful effects of an inflamed digestive tract.
Cucumber, Fennel and Ginger Smoothie
When you have an upset stomach you really don’t want to be loading up on anything too sugary.
Pear, Celery and Ginger Smoothie
The pear provides you with just enough fiber to keep your digestive system happily moving along.
Worst Foods for Digestion
Foods that are bad for digestion include foods that cause bloating, hard to digest foods and foods that, if overeaten, can cause digestive problems.
Let’s discover the worst foods for digestion that should be avoided when you’ve got an upset stomach!
1. Acidic Fruits
Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons do provide the body with a decent hit of vitamin C and metabolites that are good for long-term digestion, but eating too much of these fruits can worsen that unpleasant condition we call acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease.)
While acidic fruits are not the direct cause of these conditions, there have been indications that they act in a similar way to other foods that cause acid reflux or heartburn such as spicy curries.
Moreover, doctors have noted that eating these fruits on an empty stomach is especially bad for heartburn.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
The ever controversial artificial sweetener has had a mixed reception. With some praising, some mildly cautious, and others downright criticizing the effects of artificial sweeteners on the body.
What’s fair game?
The bad news:
- There has been a study that suggests their use can potentially lead to appetite and weight gains.
- The same study also suggests they can lead to people craving more sugar.
- Due to their high sweetness and low calories, studies suggest they may confuse your brain into remaining hungry.
- Another study found 4 participants had poorer blood glucose control a mere 5 days after consuming an artificial sweetener, and when their gut bacteria were transferred into mice the same thing happened in them.
The good news:
- A more recent study found artificial sweeteners did not increase appetite or calorie intake.
- In fact, another study reported a decrease in appetite and calorie intake.
- Only small amounts of artificial sweetener are needed to sweeten foods or drinks and so, as a result, you’re hardly consuming any calories at all, which is good for weight loss.
- Controlled studies have found that artificial sweeteners do not increase blood glucose or insulin levels, which is good news for people who suffer from diabetes.
You may have noticed the bad and good news contained 4 bullet points each. So what are we to make of artificial sweeteners?
While many vastly overexaggerate the negative effects of artificial sweeteners and neglect to mention their positive effects, we’ve put them on this list due to the one study that showed participants having poorer blood glucose control just 5 days after consuming artificial sweeteners.
Since that study is related to gut health, and gut health is an important component of digestion, we’d advise you to skip the artificial sweeteners next time your gut is having a few issues.
Furthermore, despite the fact that most artificial sweeteners simply pass through the digestive system due to being indigestible, others are actually partially digested and can produce negative effects, which is confirmed by dietician Erin Palinski-Wade:
Sweeteners which are partially digested have the biggest impact on the GI system and can lead to bloat, gas, and diarrhea.
3. Milk Chocolate
Quite a number of people report an upset stomach after eating chocolate (in fact hundreds of people Google it each month). So if you’re suffering from an upset stomach, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux or bloating, milk chocolate really isn’t the way to go.
The acidity of chocolate can trigger acid reflux and GERD symptoms, while the lactose sugars in chocolate can also cause other gut-related issues for those who are lactose intolerant.
Moreover, the caffeine found in chocolate can lead to heartburn and bloating. As well as, there are studies that found caffeine can further irritate any reflux symptoms you have—which is pretty bad considering chocolate itself is quite acidic.
If you simply must eat chocolate, then eat dark chocolate that has a high cocoa percentage, since research from the UK found a higher level of good bacteria in the gut from participants who drank high-cocoa milk for 4 weeks.
Some dark chocolate will have higher levels of caffeine than milk chocolate, but you’ve got to love all those friendly microbes and nutrients found in dark chocolate!
4. Fried Foods
These days most of us are well aware that eating fried food isn’t exactly good for you. High calories and fat content along with a less than ideal nutritional value is not an ideal combination for those of us who are health conscious.
Fried food can sometimes cause acid reflux and can even raise blood pressure.
It’s also well worth noting that fried fatty foods are not very good for digestion.
We shared this quote from dietician Caroline West Passerrello when talking about the fattiness of fried foods above, but it’s worth repeating here:
Fat slows down digestion and takes a toll on your digestive system, which in turn can leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable.
This is especially true for the fattier ends of the spectrum such as steak and french fries. The body struggles to digest fatty foods at the best of times but a big helping of oil ensures that this food type is grouped firmly in the no-no category.
5. Spicy Foods
Just in case being advised to skip chocolate wasn’t bad enough, spicy foods are also something that you should try to stay clear of should you be experiencing a stomach upset.
The heat from spicy foods can cause irritation along the whole length of your digestive tract and can cause acid reflux and even heartburn. Janette Nesheiwat, a certified medical doctor from New York says,
Hot peppers, spicy curry, and other spicy foods trigger a reflux of gastric juices of the stomach into the esophagus, which causes heartburn.
Moreover, a study has found that people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease have a higher chance of being sensitive to spice.
Instead, eat more bland meals for an upset stomach such as crackers, toast, and any other easy to digest food mentioned in the easily digested foods list above.
Other Things to Avoid
- Ice Cream
- Milk — while milk does help acid reflux (low-fat milk is best), it should be avoided otherwise.
- Raw fruits and veg
If you’re someone who’s suffering from an upset stomach or digestive issue, we hope you’ve found these lists above useful.
Nobody enjoys having an upset stomach, but with a few careful choices, you should hopefully be able to ease the pain and get back to normal in no time at all.
However, should your tummy troubles last around 2 weeks or more even after implementing these tips, we’d recommend going to see a doctor.Join my Healthy Living Facebook Group