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Are There Foods That Speed Up the Digestive System?

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.
Are There Foods That Speed Up the Digestive System?
Lentils Photo Credit: studiocascella/iStock/Getty Images

When you eat too many animal-based protein foods, it takes your digestive system longer to break down their large molecules. As food lingers in the gastrointestinal tract, you may feel bloated and suffer from gaseous pressure. You can speed up the digestive process by choosing plant-based foods to eat that contain little saturated fat and lots of dietary fiber.

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As the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, relate, soluble fiber can help digestion by creating a viscous substance as it breaks down. Insoluble fiber can then move more freely through the colon, clearing it of bulk and waste.

Berries and Pears

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Soft berries and thin-skinned pears are easy on the digestive system and contain some of the highest amounts of fiber among all fruits. Asian pears have greater fiber content than domestic varieties, while raspberries and blackberries have more than blueberries and strawberries, according to the USDA Nutrient Database. Prunes and oranges are good foods to eat to help digestion, but prune juice and orange juice, which lose most of their fiber, are best reserved for satisfying your vitamin and mineral needs.

Cooked Spinach and Broccoli

Broccoli Photo Credit: Lars Kastilan/iStock/Getty Images

Cooking nutritious, fibrous vegetables can help digestion by softening them for easier movement through your gastrointestinal tract. The non-fiber components of cooked spinach and broccoli will dissolve more readily, speeding up intestinal absorption of nutrients.

Spinach and broccoli are among the high-fiber foods that satisfy many of your vitamin and mineral needs at once. The NIH also suggests cooked beets, turnips and asparagus as tender foods to eat to speed up digestion.

Cereal and Whole Grains

Wheat bread
Wheat bread Photo Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Get your digestive system working in the morning by eating whole-grain oat, corn, wheat, rice or barley cereal. The FDA considers cereals with 5 grams of fiber or more per suggested serving high contributions toward your total daily fiber intake.

You can also help digestion by choosing other forms of whole-grain, rather than refined-grain, foods to eat, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bulgur or couscous, pearl barley and whole-wheat pastas or breads.

Peas and Beans

Peas Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Lighten the load on your digestive system by including cooked dry peas, lentils and beans on your menus at least twice a week, suggests the Harvard School of Public Health. These have the highest fiber content of all plant-based foods, and they represent a low-fat alternative to meat dishes. You’ll decrease your saturated fat intake and speed up your digestive function by eating split peas, lentils, soybeans and pinto, black, kidney or navy beans.

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