July 15th, 2013 by Digestive Detective
While you may already be fully aware (from the signals your body sends you) of those foods you should steer clear of, there are a few foods whose damaging effects might not be so obvious:
Gluten-containing grains serve to irritate the gut lining and can increase intestinal permeability - ie leaky gut. Intestinal permeability further irritates your system by allowing large "macromolecules" of food and other organisms such as parasites, bacteria, and fungi to escape into general circulation from the GI tract. Gluten-containing grains include barley, rye, wheat, and oats.
The gluten found in grains is not the only problem;however, as all grains tend to also be high in phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and prevents their absorption in the small intestine. If you have compromised gut health, then you may already be lacking optimal absorption of nutrients, so the presence of phytic acid will only exacerbate the problem and create even greater nutrient deficiencies.
Sorry to be a party pooper (pun intended) but alcohol can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Not only is alcohol generally irritating to the GI tract, but, as with grains above, alcohol inhibits the absorption of other critical micronutrients including zinc, vitamin A, and the B vitamins. Most alcohol is also derived from some form of a grain so the same issues cited above become a challenge within the gut.
This one may or may not surprise you. While largely considered to be among the healthiest foods on the planet, for individuals suffering from a malabsorptive or inflammatory gastrointestinal condition, raw vegetables are best avoided for two reasons:
Cellulose and insoluble fibers. The fibers found in vegetables are very difficult to break down and digest - even more so when they are in their raw state. Cooking vegetables actually begins the process of breaking down these fibrous components making them more digestible to eat. If you are dealing with an inflamed gut, think of insoluble fiber acting like a wire brush rubbing over a open wound - ouch! To get your share of good veggies, stick with soluble-fiber based ones and cook them some to help soften the fibrous elements. Vegetables with soluble fiber include carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets, squash and pumpkins.
Oxalates. Just as with phytic acid, oxalates can block the absorption of vital nutrients including calcium, zinc, and manganese. Raw vegetables that are high in oxalates include:
- Dandelion greens
- Peppers (chili and green)
- Potatoes (baked, boiled, fried)
- Summer squash
- Sweet potato
- Swiss chard