5 healthy foods that might be bothering your digestive system

5 Good-for-You Foods That Are Hard On Your Digestive System

At Shorba, we’re all about helping Canadians rest and restore their guts through trigger-free nourishment and resources that get to the root of what’s impacting our guts to begin with – because if our gut is off, so are the rest of our bodily systems. 

One thing that surprises many of our customers, and may even surprise you, is how foods they eat just because they’re described as healthy are the foods triggering their digestive systems in the first place. 

While these foods are good for nutrition, being so full of essentials such as fibre, vitamins, minerals or antioxidants, here are common healthy foods that can be hard for our guts to handle.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a carb, fibre and magnesium-filled ingredient that is easy to integrate into so many healthy dishes as a foundation or side. 

Unfortunately, the rice components that contribute to the fibre content level are also what could be negatively impacting your gut. Brown rice’s fibre comes from its germ as well as its bran, its insoluble, starchy outer layer. The bran is what gives your rice that stickiness when cooking or swallowing. 

The germ and bran are the two parts of the rice that make it hard to digest, causing us to feel bloated, stomach-heavy (like that rock in stomach feeling) and constipated. 

As a side or main, we recommend not having brown rice at all and replacing it with white rice, which has historically been the cross-cultural choice for routine or daily intake – especially aged white rice. 

However, if brown rice is your preference, an easy method to make it more digestible is to soak it in a water-acid mix before cooking. If you’re having the rice for dinner, start soaking in the morning – but don’t exceed 24 hours in the mix. For the acidic content, we recommend lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. 

Raw Salad

For many, raw salads are an easy to find, easy to buy or easy to make solution to eating healthier, especially on the go at home or work when life gets busy. But then digestive issues begin or continue, and we wonder why – it was just a salad! 

Was it the dressing? Possibly, but the raw ingredients of the salad are also a likely culprit!

Just like with brown rice, the raw vegetables can be very fibrous in nature, and eating so much raw salad in one sitting – especially if routinely or daily – can lead to the ingredients being stuck in your system for longer periods. 

This can be easily resolved by steaming the vegetables before ingestion. You’ll still get most of the benefits and nutrients of your salad, but breaking down its fibrous barriers will help your gut break the salad down a little easier. 


Another go-to in healthy diets and nutrient-rich dish servings, legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are beloved for their protein and fibre. We’ve already explained how fibre can be the opposite of helpful to your gut, but let’s not forget the oligosaccharides. 

A prebiotic sweetener, oligosaccharides pass through your gut without being broken down, contributing to negative digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas or diarrhoea. 

Just like with brown rice, soaking your legumes to break down fibrous material can help make them more digestible. Washing, steaming or cooking them can also remove fibres and sugars that your gut may struggle to properly break down. 

For a more Ayurvedic approach to making legumes gut-friendlier, consider adding hing (asafoetida), ginger powder or other digestive spices. These will effectively increase digestibility while also reducing gassiness.  

Seed and Nuts 

Nuts and seeds make for such a wonderful snack, especially at our desks, and are a much healthier alternative to munching on candy, chips and other salty goods. So why are they on this list?

Phytic acid, friends. This tricky acid not only passes through our systems unbroken by our digestive enzymes, it binds to other nutrients from our foods – such as iron and calcium – reducing their absorption by our guts. 

On top of this, it inhibits our systems abilities to produce digestive enzymes, slowing digestion of everything else in our guts!

If almonds are your choice in nuts, make them more easily digestible by soaking then peeling them. Other nuts, like cashews, can be made more gut-friendly by roasting them first. 

Dried Fruits

Another tasty snack, and often a go-to when people need a little constipation relief, dried fruits like apricots and raisins are loved for their fibre; but it’s not just their fibre (again) triggering your gut. 

In this case, its concentrated sugars. If you eat too much dried fruits, it’s the natural sugars that could bother your tummy, causing stomach aches, bloating, gas or all of the above. If this happens, switch to smaller amounts per snack period – you don’t have to give them up entirely. 

Need a Reset?

Have a look at our 4 or 7 Day Reset Program to rest and restore your gut after any digestively difficult diets or lifestyle changes. 

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