Supermarkets have a near-endless number of products to choose from when filling your shopping trolley.
Sticking to plenty of fruit, veg and whole grainssupports the body, boosts wellbeing and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, experts say.
But beyond these categories, Dr Sarmed Sami, a consultant gastroenterologist who works in London, urges approaching some foods with extreme caution.
From bacon and cream to fizzy drinks and ready meals, he told MailOnline there were five options that he'd rather avoid.
Sticking to plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains supports the body, boosts wellbeing and reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, experts say
Experts warn that while processed meats are big on taste they're low on health benefits
These are meats preserved in processes involving smoking, curing, salting, and adding preservatives. And while they're high on taste, they're low on health benefits.
Common processed meats include sausages, bacon, ham, and deli meats.
Meat processing can help improve its texture and shelf-life but when eaten in excess they can also harm your health.
Early animal studies have suggested salt may destroy certain strains of lactobacillus bacteria in the gut, although more research is needed.
But more worrying is the addition of nitrates and nitrites, which are used to preserve their colour and flavour.
What should you put in your shopping basket?
Fruit, vegetables and whole grains
Dr Sarmed Sami, a consultant gastroenterologist, advises including a large variety of plants in your diet every week.
'Everyone is different, but generally speaking, incorporating a large variety of plants into your diet every week is a great way to get as many different types of fibre and nutrients as possible into your body,' he said.
Dr Sami said: 'This helps promote optimum gut health diversity. This can include fruit, vegetables, wholegrains such as quinoa, bulgar wheat, oats, and nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, almonds and pumpkin seeds.'
Herbs and spices
'In addition to this, consuming a variety of spices and herbs, such as turmeric, ginger and parsley, is also good for our guts.'
Tinned and frozen fruit and veg
But don't just restrict your search for fruit and veg to the grocery aisle.
'Tinned and frozen fruits and vegetables can still be nutritious and shouldn't be overlooked,' says Dr Sami.
'Some tinned fruits and vegetables may contain added salt or sugar, so it's important to check the label before consuming them. Some tinned fruits are also packed in syrup, which can add additional calories and sugar.
'It's best to select fruit and vegetables that have been packed in their own juice, which can help preserve nutrient content.
'In some cases, frozen fruits and vegetables may even be more nutritious than fresh produce that has been sitting on a shelf for several days.'
Drink enough water and get enough sleep
Other good habits will also encourage a healthy gut microbiome. 'Ensuring that you are getting enough sleep and drinking enough water is particularly important,' says Dr Sami.
'Studies have shown a clear link between gut health and sleep, and with those not getting enough sleep suffering from digestive problems such as bloating.
'Water helps the digestion process, helping absorb nutrients and reduce inflammation in the digestive system.'
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According to the World Cancer Research Fund, these compounds can be converted into harmful chemicals called nitrosamines in the gut, which are considered a risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Dr Sami, of the London Digestive Centre at The Princess Grace Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, said:'These foods are also low in fibre, a nutrient that helps promote a healthy microbiome by feeding beneficial bacteria, which help keep the gut lining healthy.
'Processed meats are often high in saturated fat.
'These fats can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, which may lead to gut inflammation and contribute to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.'
High-fat dairy foods
Dairy products include milk, cream and cheese, which provide the body with protein and a source of calcium.
But despite their health benefits, dairy foods are not for everyone, says Dr Sami.
Lactose intolerance is one of the most common food intolerances affecting 3.25million people in the UK, particularly those of African, Caribbean, and South American descent.
Up to 90 per cent of adults can be affected among these population groups.
This condition can lead to unwanted symptoms after eating dairy foods as lactose passes undigested into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment it. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, gas and diarrhoea.
He said: 'These foods are typically high in fat, although fat-free varieties are available. Saturated fat takes longer to digest, which can exacerbate symptoms of indigestion and reflux while also contributing to inflammation in the gut.'
High-fat dairy products can also disrupt gut bacteria.
'The high sat fat content of dairy cream can increase bile acid production in the gut, which may cause changes in the microbiome,' he says.
'A high intake of dairy foods in the diet has been associated with a decrease in Bifidobacterium. Hormones and antibiotics used in dairy farming may also be transferred to humans, negatively affecting the microbiome.'
The only thing to recommend deep fried foods for is their taste. When it comes to our bodies they're a big no-no.
'Fried foods can cause stomach problems as they slow down the emptying of the stomach due to high amounts of fat,' says Dr Sami.
'This means that the food takes longer to digest and can result in nausea and abdominal discomfort.
'Eating a lot of fat triggers the body to release bile from the gallbladder to help with its breakdown.
'Overeating fat can overload bile production, causing symptoms such as bloating, nausea and cramping.'
The high temperatures used to fry foods also produce compounds called advanced glycation end products.
These compounds can be difficult for the body to break down, which may contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress in the digestive system.
'Reducing the amount of fried food that you eat and how often you eat it will improve your gut health,' he says.
They may be a takeaway favourite but deep fried foods can trigger multiple tummy troubles
Consuming sugary drinks brings no health benefits — and that includes fruit juice, if drunk excessively.
Overdoing it on sugar is associated with weight gain, a risk factor for many diseases. It can also affect the health of your gut microbiome.
Dr Sarmed Sami, consultant gastroenterologist, has revealed the five foods he would never eat
'Excessive sugar in the diet can contribute to inflammation caused by spikes in blood sugar levels which can trigger the inflammatory response in the body. Inflammation can cause damage to the lining of the gut and increases the risk of gut-related diseases such as Crohn's disease or irritable bowel disease,' Dr Sami says.
'Consuming high amounts of sugar can change the composition of bacteria in the gut, which may lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria.
'This dysbiosis or imbalance can cause gut-related symptoms such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.
'High amounts of sugar in the diet can cause discomfort in the gut. This can result from fermentation as certain bacteria feed on sugar producing excess gas.'
Fizzy drinks are particular culprits (containing sugar and sugar-free).
'The carbonation of these drinks can result in a build-up of gas, which can cause bloating, cramps, acid reflux and constipation.'
They may be convenient but ready meals come at a cost.
'Ultra-processed foods (UPF) often contain lots of added sugar, fat, salt as well as many other chemicals, preservatives, and emulsifiers, and are linked to metabolic changes and poorer health,' says Dr Sami.
Ready meals may be convenient and save you time but experts warned you may end up paying the price with your health
'UPF are made mostly or entirely from ingredients that have already been highly modified and this often changes the structure of the food. These changes can alter the properties of the food and how it is used by the body.
'They can contain high levels of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, salt, and chemical additives. They often lack dietary fibre, good sources of protein, and healthy fats.
'Eating a high UPF diet is associated with a number of health conditions, including conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, asthma and cancer.
'Not all processed foods are considered UPF, however, and many foods have to be processed in some way to make them digestible or safe to eat. But as a general rule, the more processed a food is, the less healthy it is for you.'
What YOU need to know about probiotics
Consultant registered nutritionist and advisor to Healthspan, Rob Hobson, reveals what bacteria is right for you
Consultant registered nutritionist Rob Hobson
Many parts of our body depend on the health of our intestines and scientific research agrees that we need to create a wide variety of good bacteria in our gut.
But there is a great deal of confusion over the best way to boost the friendly flora in the gut.
A recent survey by nutrition company Healthspan found that people are confused about the why, when and even what time of day they should be taking probiotics.
Nearly a quarter of 2,000 people admitted that they took a probiotic supplement to support a specific health condition but then 67 per cent of people openly declared that they were unaware of what strains they needed to support their health.
So what are probiotics? Simply put, they are live bacteria and yeasts. They are part of a diverse gut microbiome, the collection of trillions of bacteria that can support health, prevent long-term chronic disease and even boost mood.
Live yoghurt is the most well-known probiotic food and contains strains such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Casei. Similar strains are also found in yoghurt 'shot' drinks that have become very popular.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, and miso also contain strains of bacteria that can support good gut health.
But often diet alone cannot provide us with the right strains and levels of live bacteria we need to maintain a healthy microbiome.
Ageing also has many effects on the body including the absorption of key nutrients and this extends to the diversity of your microbiota.
Bacterial strains such as Bifidobacterium lactis have been shown to decline in later life and this reduced diversity of bacteria could open the pathway for disease-causing pathogens.
Healthspan's Super-Pro 50 (60 capsules £29.95) is an advanced probiotic with over 50 billion friendly bacteria from four well-researched strains (Bifidobacterium Lactis Bl-04, Bifidobacterium Lactis HN01, Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, Bifidobacterium planetarum Lp-115), as well as containing calcium, vitamin D3 and B6 all formulated to support digestive health, immunity and energy metabolism.
Meanwhile, prebiotics are also important, helping probiotics to thrive.
Prebiotics are the indigestible fibres fermented by gut bacteria producing short chain fatty acids supplying energy to the cells of your colon while also helping them flourish.
Prebiotics can be found in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and barley.
What foods to avoid to live longer? ›
“Consuming excessive amounts of foods high in added sugars and refined carbohydrates such as white flour, foods high in saturated fat and/or trans fat and frequent consumption of red and processed meats have a negative effect on our health,” Murray said.What is the one vegetable that destroys your gut? ›
Due to their high lectin content, excessive potato consumption could lead to digestive difficulties. Despite being a healthy source of vitamins and minerals, potatoes are actually one of the most problematic lectin-containing foods.What foods heal your gut? ›
- Yoghurt. Live yoghurt is an excellent source of so-called friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics. ...
- Kefir. ...
- Miso. ...
- Sauerkraut. ...
- Kimchi. ...
- Sourdough. ...
- Almonds. ...
- Olive oil.
- Spoiled or unwashed foods. Bacteria from old or raw foods can cause food poisoning, cramps, or other issues if it gets into your system. ...
- Spicy and hot foods. Foods with a bit of a kick can trigger problems like heartburn. ...
- Dairy products. ...
- Acidic foods. ...
Foods most often linked to intestinal gas include: Beans and lentils. Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and other vegetables. Fructose, a natural sugar found in artichokes, onions, pears, wheat, and some soft drinks.What foods cause gastro problems? ›
- Fried Foods. 1/10. They're high in fat and can bring on diarrhea. ...
- Citrus Fruits. 2/10. Because they're high in fiber and they are acidic, they can give some folks an upset stomach. ...
- Artificial Sugar. 3/10. ...
- Too Much Fiber. 4/10. ...
- Beans. 5/10. ...
- Cabbage and Its Cousins. 6/10. ...
- Fructose. 7/10. ...
- Spicy Foods. 8/10.
Including lean protein, vegetables, and nuts in the diet every day can help people stay healthy and prevent certain chronic conditions. Some plant foods, such as cruciferous vegetables and berries, contain particularly beneficial compounds, including polyphenols and glucosinolates.What food should you eat everyday? ›
- Fish. ...
- Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
- Beets. ...
- Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
- Kale. ...
- Peanut butter. ...
- Almonds. ...
Peanut butter is loaded with so many good, health-promoting nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin B6. Research shows that people who regularly eat nuts and nut butter, including peanut butter, are less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.What is the one food that makes you live longer? ›
Try to get tomatoes, blueberries, green leafy veggies like spinach and kale, turmeric, and nuts (especially walnuts) into your diet. And those omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and other oily fish, are inflammation fighters, too.
What food makes me live longer? ›
People who more carefully followed any of the healthy eating patterns — which all share a focus on consuming more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes — were also less likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular illness, and respiratory and neurodegenerative disease.What foods clog your colon? ›
The most common culprits are dairy products, sugary treats, and high-fat meats. So go easy on marbled steaks and sausages, cheese, ice cream, cakes, cookies, and frozen or packaged meals, which tend to lack much fiber.Is peanut butter bad for the gut? ›
Peanut butter contains prebiotics which feed beneficial bacteria in the microbiome; however, it's important to keep in mind that consuming too much peanut butter can cause digestive distress. Excessive intake can lead to a build up of gas in the intestines due to its high fiber content.What foods inflame your gut? ›
- Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
- Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
- Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
- Fried foods.
- Ginger Tea.
- Lemongrass Tea.
- Peppermint tea.
- Fennel tea.
Water keeps things moving along, balances the good bacteria in the gut, and protects the intestines. Consider sipping alkaline water, which supports a healthy colon and encourages the growth of probiotics.Does ice cream help with gut health? ›
But when you think about all of the delicious things you can eat as part of a microbiome-friendly menu, it's not gross at all. As Dr. Raj explained on Monday's Rachael Ray Show, one of the three best foods to "renovate your gut health" is actually ice cream.What is the hardest food to digest? ›
Fatty foods, such as chips, burgers and fried foods, are harder to digest and can cause stomach pain and heartburn. Cut back on greasy fried foods to ease your stomach's workload. Try to eat more lean meat and fish, drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, and grill rather than fry foods.Is peanut butter easy to digest? ›
Peanut butter is easy to digest for some people, but tough for others, and it's been connected to worsening acid reflux symptoms anecdotally. While your GI tract is angry, it's safer to hold off on the PB.What foods are easy on the colon? ›
In limited quantities, steamed vegetables like broccoli, spinach and carrots are mild enough for your colon. Canned fruits and vegetables can also be gentle on your colon. The acidic base in the canned vegetables helps to diminish the insoluble fiber content. Canned peaches, pears, applesauce, green beans, etc.
Does peanut butter reduce bloating? ›
Because of its high-fat content, peanut butter can be especially difficult to digest for some people, leading to indigestion or bloating.Why does everything I eat give me gas? ›
Excess upper intestinal gas can result from swallowing more than a usual amount of air, overeating, smoking or chewing gum. Excess lower intestinal gas can be caused by eating too much of certain foods, by the inability to fully digest certain foods or by a disruption in the bacteria normally found in the colon.Can salad cause bloating? ›
Many people experience bloating and/or gut upset when they eat a lot of salad. This commonly occurs if someone is going quickly from a less healthy, low-fibre diet to a healthier, high-fibre diet.How can I clean my stomach and intestines naturally? ›
- Hydration. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is a great way to regulate digestion. ...
- Saltwater flush. You can also try a salt water flush. ...
- High fiber diet. ...
- Juices and smoothies. ...
- Juice fast. ...
- More resistant starches. ...
- Probiotics. ...
- Herbal teas.
In fact, drinking water during or after a meal helps how your body breaks down and processes food (digestion). Water is vital for good health. Water and other drinks help break down food so that your body can take in (absorb) the nutrients. Water also makes stool softer, which helps prevent constipation.Which fruit is not good for gastric problem? ›
Tomato sauce and citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, are acidic and can irritate the stomach lining, causing digestive problems.
In the case of Intermittent fasting, skipping your dinner is better and easier. You can have your dinner either early or have a heavy snack and can begin your fasting. Research suggests that fasting in the evening and overnight, then eating early in the morning is the better way to follow this diet to lose weight.What is the healthiest breakfast? ›
Oatmeal + fruit + nut butter.
The best breakfasts have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. In this combo, the oatmeal gives you complex carbs and fiber, keeps your blood sugar under control, and helps maintain an ideal balance of bacteria in your gut. The nut butter adds protein and healthy fats.
Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too. Some beverages should be limited or consumed in moderation, including fruit juice, milk, and those made with low-calorie sweeteners, like diet drinks.Are pickles good for you? ›
Fermented pickles are full of good bacteria called probiotics, which are important for gut health. Fights diseases. Cucumbers are high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.
What are the 5 foods you should eat every day? ›
- Fatty Fish. The term Blue Zone appeared in National Geographic in an article by Dan Buetter on how to live a long and healthy life. ...
- Cruciferous Vegetables. Crucifer-what? ...
- Very Berry. For a daily dose of healthy nutrients, throw some berries in your diet. ...
- Dark Chocolate. ...
- Go Nuts.
Salt or sodium
Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.
Although celery has a high water content, it contains numerous vitamins and minerals, including potassium and calcium, which are important for heart health. It also contains folate and vitamin K, both of which are required for the formation of red blood cells and effective blood clotting.Is jelly and fruit good for you? ›
As it turns out, according to both medical doctors and naturalistic nutritionists, as well as university researchers and numerous medical studies done all across the globe, fruit jams, jellies and preserves provide our bodies with beneficial quick boosts of energy and in fact, are only bout half the calories, even far ...What food shortens your life by 36 minutes? ›
Hot dogs could shorten one's life by 36 minutes. Salted peanuts, baked salmon and rice with beans could add between 10 and 15 minutes. The study suggests that eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches could add 33 minutes.What foods make you live to 100? ›
- Legumes (especially chick peas, lentils, and fava beans)
- Goat and sheep milk and cheese.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal.
- Small amounts of fish or other lean meats.
- Herbs and spices like turmeric, fennel, and garlic.
- Eat three meals each day. ...
- Eat your heavier meals for breakfast and lunch with a lighter meal for dinner.
- Eat two healthy protein choices at each meal or 6-8 choices per day. ...
- Choose lots of color for each meal. ...
- Fill in with 100% whole grain choices, 1-3 servings daily. ...
- Drink water, tea or fat free milk.
Black tea has similar benefits to green tea, such as containing caffeine and antioxidants (polyphenols, L-theanine and flavanols). Having these healthy substances make black tea a great source of boost in longevity.
- You're the life of the party. ...
- You run for 40 minutes a day. ...
- 10 symptoms you shouldn't ignore. ...
- You make every calorie count. ...
- You had a baby later in life. ...
- Your pulse beats 15 times in 15 seconds. ...
- You don't snore. ...
- You have a (relatively) flat belly after menopause.
Radishes are a great vegetable to eat every day. They are low in calories and fat, and high in fiber. Radishes also contain vitamins C and B6, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron. This vegetable is a great source of antioxidants.
What is the healthiest lifestyle to live? ›
Be physically active every day. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, and fruits. Reduce or avoid unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. Instead, use healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.What protein makes you live longer? ›
Plant protein is linked to longevity
According to the research review, bumping up your daily plant protein intake by just 3 percent may lower your early-mortality risk by 5 percent. Let's say, for example, that you consume about 2,500 calories a day.
People who eat 12g of chocolate a day – roughly the equivalent of two pieces of a bar of chocolate - have a 12 per cent lower risk of dying, compared to those who don't eat chocolate at all, according to new research published by the US National Cancer Institute.What food kills bad bacteria in the gut? ›
Research on the Mediterranean diet shows that this diet — rich in fresh veggies and fruit, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, fresh meat, and fish — is associated with an enriched microbiota that promoted “an anti-inflammatory environment low in taxa with pro-inflammatory properties capable of altering intestinal ...What are the worst foods for gut bacteria? ›
- Red meat. Eating red meats can increase N-nitroso chemicals in the body that are known to damage the lining of the bowel. ...
- Fried foods. ...
- Heavily processed foods. ...
- Alcohol and other beverages. ...
- Dairy. ...
- Fructose. ...
- Bananas. ...
- Fermented foods.
As part of a balanced diet, eggs contribute to a healthy digestive tract and can be helpful during acute digestive problems. In addition to being packed with nutrients, eggs are usually easy to digest compared to some other high-protein foods, such as meat and legumes.Is cheese bad for gut health? ›
While for lactose-intolerant people, some cheese can provoke gas and even diarrhea, in others, an excess of cheese has the reputation for causing constipation due to its high fat content. The best way to mix cheese and gut health is in a balanced meal; this helps you avoid accidentally over-indulging.Is Honey good for the gut? ›
Numerous in vivo studies using animal models show that honey acts as a prebiotic, specifically by promoting the populations of probiotic bacteria, including Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp., (104, 106, 107, 119), and alleviating symptoms of constipation and ulcerative colitis (107, 119).Is pineapple good for leaky gut? ›
Bromelain in pineapples, if eaten on an empty stomach, also helps to reduce pain and inflammation, including gut inflammation. As a result, it may help to promote a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome. You can find pineapples at any grocery store or health food store.Are potatoes easy to digest? ›
Potatoes are an easy to digest starchy food at the best of times but mashing them into a puree helps breaks down the fibres, making them even more of a doddle to digest. They also provide essential nutrients, including electrolyte-balancing potassium.
What foods speed up bowels? ›
- Move Things Along. 1/15. The best way to stay regular is to exercise, eat a healthy, fiber-rich diet, and drink plenty of water. ...
- Raspberries. 2/15. ...
- Pears. 3/15. ...
- Popcorn. 4/15. ...
- Watermelon. 5/15. ...
- Oatmeal. 6/15. ...
- Almonds. 7/15. ...
- Turnip Greens. 8/15.
Most studies agree that calcium-rich dairy products can make you less likely to develop colon growths (called adenomas) and colorectal cancer.Is cheese good for gut bacteria? ›
Is cheese a good source? A. Probiotics, good bacteria that can contribute to gut and overall health, can be found in some types of cheese as well as in dietary supplements, fermented foods, and yogurt. Typically, probiotics are in cheeses that have been aged but not heated afterward.Is chicken bad for gut health? ›
Chicken. While you may just eat chicken for an easy weeknight meal, it's actually a good food to add to your diet. And although you may crave a perfectly grilled steak from time to time, high-fat foods like red meat can promote bacteria in the colon that increases the risk of clogging your arteries.Are pickles good for gut health? ›
Fermented foods like pickles are basically probiotic superfoods, packed full of good bacteria that can support the health of your gastrointestinal microbiome and are good for your gut bacteria. Be sure to go for fermented pickles rather than vinegar-pickled.