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Foods That Speed Up Gastric Emptying

author image Danna Biala
Danna Biala began writing professionally in 2010. She is completing her master’s degree in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University and is currently interning to become a registered dietitian. Biala holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Brandeis University.
Foods That Speed Up Gastric Emptying
low fiber foods like white bread are recommended Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Gastric emptying occurs when the stomach contracts to empty partially digested contents into your small intestine. From there, food moves on down your intestinal tract. Damage to your vagus nerve, which controls these wave-like contractions, causes gastroparesis, or "stomach paralysis,” whereby the stomach takes too long to empty. However, there are certain foods and food types you can eat to speed up gastric emptying.

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Low-Fat Foods

fatty foods can aggravate gastroparesis
fatty foods can aggravate gastroparesis Photo Credit: Nikolay Trubnikov/iStock/Getty Images

Fat naturally slows down digestion so if you have problems with gastric emptying you should consume low-fat foods. Fatty foods can also aggravate the symptoms of gastroparesis, which include nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramps and early satiety, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Low-Fiber Foods

eggs are low in fiber
eggs are low in fiber Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Your body does not digest fiber, which is in fruits, vegetables and grains. The indigestible parts can remain in the stomach for a long time and possibly form bezoars, which are masses that get trapped in the stomach, which slows gastric emptying. The Gastroparesis and Dysmotility Foundation recommends limiting fiber to 10 to 15 grams per day, spread out over several meals. Low fiber choices include foods like enriched white bread and rice, plain pasta, raw fruits without the skin, juices without the pulp, well-cooked fruits and vegetables, tender meats and fish, eggs, creamy peanut butter and dairy products.

Liquid and Pureed Foods

pureed foods are easier to digest
pureed foods are easier to digest Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Liquids speed up gastric emptying because they require less work by your stomach than solid foods and usually leave your stomach quickly due to gravity. Pureed foods become liquid as they move through the digestive tract, mixing with stomach juices and saliva and as such, are usually more easily tolerated than solids. You can puree most foods by adding liquids to ensure a proper consistency.

Food Volume

consume smaller more frequent meals
consume smaller more frequent meals Photo Credit: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

The volume of the meal may make a difference in the rate of stomach emptying. A large meal takes longer to empty. It is, therefore, advantageous to decrease the volume of meals and instead, eat more often. Consume 4 to 6 small, frequent meals throughout the course of the day to aid in gastric emptying.

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