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Foods that are Good for the Digestive Tract

by
author image Nancy Clarke
Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.
Foods that are Good for the Digestive Tract
Strawberries for sale at a market. Photo Credit nikitos77/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Your digestive tract needs help to keep a variety of foods moving through the intestines, for nutrient absorption. Getting too much fat from the foods you eat can slow digestive system function. Not getting enough insoluble fiber can cause blockages, or constipation. The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, suggest limiting low-fiber, high-fat foods, such as cheese and meat. When you increase your fiber intake, you’ll simultaneously get the variety of food nutrients that digestion makes available to the rest of your body.

Whole-Grain Products

Americans who habitually eat refined grain products, such as white bread, white rice and regular egg noodles, may lack adequate dietary fiber, as the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans relates. Instead, aid your digestion by choosing whole-wheat bread, bagels, buns, pastas and brown rice.

Other whole-grain sources include popcorn, oatmeal and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. Choose cereal brands with the most fiber and the least sugar. If you top your cereal with milk, be sure to choose reduced-fat or nonfat varieties.

Cooked Dry Beans

Cooked dry beans, peas and lentils support your digestive system in many ways. The NIH notes that these legumes contain large amounts of fiber. Eating beans or peas along with a whole grain in place of meats for protein reduces your total fat intake, to promote efficient digestion.

Choices include cooked soybeans, lentils, split peas and kidney, pinto, black, lima, garbanzo, navy and Great Northern beans. Your intestines will absorb significant amounts of vitamin B, iron, potassium and magnesium to assist in body metabolism.

Vegetables and Fruits

Add to your fiber totals daily with several servings of lowfat vegetables and fruits. Get the most fiber from cooked spinach, artichokes, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, raspberries and strawberries. The NIH recommends Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cabbage.

Make additional high-fiber selections among orange vegetables and citrus fruits. Sampling these foods in variety will provide your digestive tract with consistent and broad nutrition, including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E.

Seafood

As you limit meats, turn to lower-fat seafood for your sources of protein. Perch, sole, trout, haddock, halibut and salmon are all healthy alternatives. These animal-based foods don’t contain fiber, but they do offer as much as 40 percent of your daily values of protein as well as some iron, B vitamins and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, according to the USDA. Their lesser content of saturated fat is easier on your digestive system than beef, pork, poultry and lamb. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains that a high fat diet can slow down digestion and cause bloating. It can also worsen any digestive diseases you may have.

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