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5 Foods that Upset and Wreak Havoc on your Gut

What food cause problems in your stomach and gut?

You may have heard the term “gut microbiome.” But what does the gut microbiome actually mean? Like many natural processes, your belly relies on bacteria to help digest food and keep it functioning like it should. Not all bacteria in the gut are beneficial, however, and it is relatively easy to disrupt the balance so that the bad bacteria outweigh the good. When this happens, you may experience a variety of symptoms, from heartburn to frequent constipation or diarrhea.

There are many things we can do to support good gut health. One of the easiest changes we can make is to eat foods that promote a balanced gut environment and avoid those that trigger growth of bad bacteria. Here are a few foods that may consider eliminating, or at least consuming in moderation, to help improve your gut health:

Sugary foods:

  • Just like humans, bacteria need energy in order to thrive. While humans obtain energy in many different forms, bacteria feed almost exclusively on sugar. Diets high in sugar promote growth of all bacteria, but the bad bacteria multiply in a way that takes over the good bacteria and leads to a pro-inflammatory state. 

Processed soy:

  • Whether you realize it or not, soy is a mainstay in the American diet. While minimally processed soy products (soy, tempeh, edamame) have health benefits, most of us consume highly processed soy (soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, hydrogenated soybean oils) which have been implicated in various health conditions. Large quantities of processed soy can prevent absorption of critical nutrients as well as prevent digestion, leading to gut irritation.


  • Dairy doesn’t negatively impact everyone’s gut health. In fact, some dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, contain probiotics that help boost the good bacteria in your gut. However, if you have a sensitivity or intolerance, specifically to lactose, you may find yourself in extreme discomfort. Consuming dairy when you cannot properly digest it can potentially lead to inflammation. 


  • Similar to dairy, many people may have sensitivities to various grains. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, is a common perpetrator of digestive issues. Other grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats are highly nutritious and can help digestion due to their fiber content. Overall, choosing whole grains that haven’t been “blanched” or “bleached” of their nutrients are the best choice for gut health. 

Refined oils:

  • Contrary to popular belief, fats are important for a healthy body. However, many individuals consume fats that AREN’T healthy, which leads to numerous health issues. Many processed foods contain refined oils; that is oils that have been treated with harsh chemicals to make them more “pure.” However, this process actually leads to the creation of trans fats, which are known as bad fats because they contribute to high cholesterol. Examples of refined oils include canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. These products can also be inflammatory and contribute to gut dysbiosis. Choosing cooking oils or products that are made from extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil that contain heart- and gut-healthy fats are the way to go.


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