9 Easy-to-Digest Foods

Medically Reviewed By Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
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Foods that are easy to digest can help with various stomach-related symptoms and conditions. Easy-to-digest foods typically contain a limited amount of fiber. Examples include white rice, sweet potatoes, and chicken.

Fiber itself is not at all unhealthy. In contrast, it is a crucial component of a balanced diet and provides many health benefits, including:

  • lowering your cholesterol levels
  • lowering your blood sugar levels
  • promoting weight management
  • reducing the risk of heart disease

However, foods that contain fiber can be hard to digest. This is because fiber is naturally dense.

This article explains easy-to-digest foods in more detail, why they can help digestion, and ways to avoid digestion issues.

What is digestion? 

sweet potatoes
Tamuz Rachman/Stocksy United

Digestion is the breakdown of food and liquid into smaller parts to enable your body to absorb and use the nutrients in them. 

It is a complex process that involves several systems and mechanisms.

These include:

  • The gastrointestinal tract: This is the passageway through which food travels through your body. It includes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestine, and rectum.  
  • Digestive mechanisms: These are the activities your body performs to disintegrate and transport food through your body. They include chewing, peristalsis, and egestion.
  • Digestive juices: These are the compounds your body releases to break down food and unlock its nutritional content. They include stomach acid, bile, and enzymes.

Read more about digestive health here.

Why is this important? 

Digestion is the only way your body can access and retrieve the nutrients stored in food.

Here are some of the most important nutrients you derive from food and why they matter:

  • Carbohydrates: These convert into glucose to give your body energy. Carbohydrate is the body’s main source of energy.
  • Fats: These support cell growth and help regulate your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Fats also help your body absorb important nutrients.
  • Vitamins and minerals: These micronutrients strengthen your immune system to help your body protect against disease. They also help form and maintain healthy teeth and bones.
  • Proteins: These also provide energy and help carry oxygen throughout your body. Proteins also increase your muscle mass and strength.
  • Water: This helps maintain fluid balance in your body. Water also promotes joint function and mental health.

Conditions that may need easy digestion

Easy digestion is always helpful. However, it becomes especially crucial if you have a digestive issue, such as:

Pregnancy also requires that you eat more foods that are easy to digest. This is because pregnancy can slow digestion.

Read more about acid reflux, IBD, and lactose intolerance here.

Foods that are easy to digest

The following are examples of foods that are easy on your digestive system.

1. White rice 

White rice contains less fiber than brown rice, making it easier to digest. It is also a good source of manganese, which promotes bone health, and vitamin B, which helps prevent infection.

White rice will digest better in plain form without added oils.

2. Eggs

Eggs — especially boiled, poached, or scrambled — are also gentle on the digestive tract. Their constituent protein breaks down quickly and becomes easy to digest upon cooking.

Eggs also contain vitamin D, which aids bone health, and choline, which helps metabolism and liver function.

Be sure to cook your eggs properly before consuming them.

3. Yellow bananas

Yellow bananas are abundant sources of resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that is especially beneficial to your digestive health. 

This resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol levels, and keep your large intestine healthy. 

You can eat bananas whole, frozen, or as part of a fruit salad.

4. Applesauce

Applesauce promotes digestive health in two main ways. 

First, it contains pectin, a soluble fiber that can improve physical bowel function and reduce cholesterol absorption. Second, its constituent fiber disintegrates easily and becomes easily digestible upon contact with heat.

Applesauce can be a healthy alternative to butter and oil when baking homemade cakes.

5. Gelatin

Gelatin has zero fiber, which means it breaks down easily. It is also rich in glutamic acid, a substance that promotes stomach health and aids digestion.

Additional benefits include enhanced gastric acid secretion and improved dehydration.

Healthy ways to consume gelatin include adding it to your teas, soups, and smoothies.

6. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a gluten-free whole grain and a healthy source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium, among other important nutrients. 

It is also high in antioxidants, which delay cell damage and reduce your risk of disease.

One beneficial way to prepare oatmeal is to soak it in water overnight. This allows it to absorb the water and become even more digestible.

7. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes have a good amount of easily digestible soluble fiber. They also contain vitamin C and potassium, which combine to improve skin health and lower your risk of heart disease.

Other benefits include improved blood sugar regulation and better eye health.

Boiling retains more nutrients in sweet potatoes than other cooking methods.

8. Salmon

Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost your bowel function. It can also help lubricate your digestive tract and maintain a smooth digestive process.

You can also expect benefits in lowered blood pressure and better fluid balance.

Salmon without extra oil is healthier than salmon with oil. So, consider poaching or baking rather than frying.

9. Chicken

Chicken is easy on the stomach, as it contains no dietary fiber. It is an excellent source of amino acids, which promote muscle and bone health. It is also high in vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and copper. 

Foods that can cause indigestion 

Besides foods high in fiber, fried foods, fizzy drinks, and caffeine can also cause issues for your digestive tract.

The following list includes various foods that may not be digestion-friendly:

  • some fruits, such as pineapple and coconut
  • raw vegetables, including legumes, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • beverages, such as coffee and soda
  • artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols
  • fried foods, such as french fries
  • fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and pickles
  • meat products, such as sausage
  • dairy products, such as yogurt

Ways to avoid digestion issues

You can take some measures to reduce your risk of digestion issues. These include:

  • avoiding overeating
  • staying hydrated
  • avoiding artificial sweeteners
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding carbonated beverages
  • eating a balanced diet
  • eating a healthy amount of fiber 
  • exercising regularly
  • managing your stress
  • reducing your intake of fatty foods, such as red meat
  • reducing your intake of dairy products, such as milk and cheese

Contact your doctor if you have severe or persistent symptoms of digestive issues.

Summary

Low fiber foods are generally easier to digest than high fiber ones. This is because fiber, although healthy, ‌is bulky and indigestible.

Examples of foods that are easy to digest include white rice, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Examples of foods that may not digest easily include pineapples, legumes, and red meat.

You can take some measures to reduce your risk of digestion issues. These include avoiding overeating, staying hydrated, and avoiding artificial sweeteners.  

Consult your doctor if you have severe or persistent symptoms of a digestive issue.

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Medical Reviewer: Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Jul 28
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