6 popular foods and drinks that GI doctors purposely limit in their own diets

We all have our indulgences: a big bowl of chocolate ice cream after a long, stressful day. That can of Coke with a few slices of pizza on a Friday night. A burger and fries at that new restaurant everyone was raving about.

The saying everything in moderation exists for a reason. Most doctors and nutritionists know that completely depriving yourself of the foods you love will backfire, causing you to eat far more than you should. But there are certain foods that gastroenterologists who specialize in maintaining gut and digestive tract health avoid 99% (and sometimes 100%) of the time.

None of these foods will take years off your life if you eat them occasionally, but there are certain foods that GI doctors rarely eat. Here are six of them.

1. Protein bars

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Protein bars are healthy, right? While some like those made with real fruit and nuts are better than others, Dr. Harmony Allison, a gastroenterologist at Tufts Medical Center, says she never eats the highly processed ones. In particular, super-processed protein bars can cause bloating and gas. I never eat protein bars. They tend to be highly processed and contain many additives that are of unknown benefit, he said. You can get the same amount of protein in a cup of milk, a serving of peanut butter, nuts, or pumpkin seeds.

2. Steak

Two whole grilled raw tomahawk fillets

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Sorry, red meat lovers: GI docs are not fans. I avoid red meat, especially steaks and hamburgers, said Dr. Reezwana Chowdhury, a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins. Red meat and processed meat increase the risk of colon cancer and colon polyps. They are high in saturated fat, but if you are going to consume them, the amount you consume is important: the risk of colon cancer is higher in those who consume more than 100 grams a day (that is, just under one quarter of a pound).

3. Hot dogs and other processed meats

Eating processed meats, such as hot dogs, four or more times a week can increase your risk of colon cancer by up to 20%.

Eating processed meats, such as hot dogs, four or more times a week can increase your risk of colon cancer by up to 20%.

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Few people have an easy time turning down a few pieces of fragrant bacon or a hot dog, but Dr. Rabia De Latour, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, disagrees of processed meats like these. and unfortunately sausages count too. Red and processed meats have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, he said. Data have linked eating red and processed meats four or more times per week to an increased risk of colon cancer of up to 20%.

4. Fried fish or chicken

Plate of fried chicken on a wooden surface with another plate in the background

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That Filet-O-Fish and carton of chicken nuggets are delicious and all, but they’re not doing your gut health any favors.

Studies have shown that frying oil could negatively modulate the gut microbiome, leading to an exacerbation of atherosclerosis (buildup of fat and other substances in the walls of arteries), explained Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum, a microbiome researcher and co-founder of BIOHM. In the long term, this accumulation can lead to consequences such as heart attack and stroke.

5. Refreshment

Assortment of Coca-Cola and Fanta soft drink bottles on a store shelf

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If you are a regular drinker of soda or any other type of sugary drink, it may be time to kick the habit. While they may be easy to down, these drinks are also linked to chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, said Dr. Simon C. Matthews, a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins and a member of Vivante Health’s advisory board. In addition, they are often associated with triggering gastrointestinal symptoms of bloating, belching and reflux, especially when combined in their carbonated and caffeinated forms.

6. White bread

A loaf of Hovis Soft White bread, sliced ​​and spread with butter, next to a knife

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According to Dr. Shilpa Grover, director of the Onco-Gastroenterology Program in the Division of Gastroenterology at Brigham and Womens Hospital, refined grains aren’t great for your gut.

Studies that have evaluated dietary patterns have clearly shown that a high intake of red and processed meat and refined grains is associated with an increased risk of [inflammatory pouches in the digestive tract] called diverticulitis, he said. Contrary to what was previously thought, nuts, corn and popcorn are not associated with an increased risk of developing diverticulosis or complications such as diverticulitis or bleeding.

But your gut health isn’t all you need to consider when it comes to eating a diet high in red meat and refined grains. The same diets recommended to lower the risk of diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer, including colorectal cancer, may also reduce the risk of diverticulitis, he said.

If you’re mourning the loss of identity as you contemplate going through the summer months without a single hot dog, don’t worry—a hot dog here and there won’t destroy your gut health. Go easy on it and maybe add some sauerkraut for some gut-boosting benefits.This post originally appeared on HuffPost.

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