It’s tough enough to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (they should fill half of every plate according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics!). Throw digestive issues into the mix, and things get even harder: Certain fruits and vegetables can cause painful bloating and gas, body aches, fatigue and more in those with sensitive stomachs.
If you’re in this camp and are struggling to find produce that delivers the nutrients you need without triggering an unwanted slew of side effects, we can help. Use our simple shopping guide below to help determine which seasonal produce to stock up on and which to avoid. Then try our delicious and healthy recipes to make the most of the fall bounty at your local farmers’ market.
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Apples and pears are temperate fruits that grow seasonally in climates with cold winters, and they’re packed with antioxidants and other protective substances. They’re much lower in sugar than tropical fruits (such as bananas, pineapple, and mango) and other fall-season favorites like grapes — good news since excess and undigested sugars stimulate overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which can lead to bloating and gas. Excess sugars can also stimulate yeast overgrowth in the intestines, which can potentially damage intestinal cells and disrupt nutrient absorption. And with so many varieties of both apples and pears, you’ll have plenty of options to enjoy.
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These root vegetables are low in oxalate, a plant substance that’s generally not a troublemaker. But if you have gut issues, you might be absorbing too much oxalate — and that can be problematic. Excess oxalate binds with calcium in the body to form sharp crystals that build up in tissues. Muscle pain, joint pain associated with movement, and fatigue are possible associated symptoms. And because oxalate is excreted by the kidneys, excessive oxalate is associated with increased risk of kidney stones (70% of kidney stones are calcium oxalate). If you’re prone to gut health issues or kidney stones, put these low-oxalate root veggies on your shopping list! At the farmers’ market or store, choose smaller turnips — they’re generally sweeter and more tender, and they’re excellent roasted or in the chowder below.
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5. Acorn Squash
6. Butternut Squash
Good news: Like turnips, winter squash are low-oxalate veggies. Pumpkin has a very mild flavor and goes great in soups, smoothies, pies, bars—and waffles, like the yummy recipe below. Butternut squash is smooth, sweet, and slightly nutty, making it great for soups; acorn squash is sweet, too, and perfect roasted or steamed.
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This flavorful and versatile bulb can be eaten root to stem—bulb, stalks, fronds, seeds, pollen, and all. And fennel is excellent for helping to ease intestinal spasms and decrease cramping. Licorice lovers are big fans of fennel seeds; if that’s not you, try them in the chai recipe below from Vital Plan founder Dr. Bill Rawls, where the licorice flavor is much milder.
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They’re a temperate fruit like apples and pears, but they’re very high in sugar.
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, and Cabbage
All cruciferous vegetables, they can cause gas and painful bloating. A little bit might be fine, but too much could cause abdominal discomfort for some.
Beets, Dates, and Figs
All three are high in oxalate, which can cause joint and muscle pain and fatigue in some.
Nightshades like peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes are primary sources of lectins, plant proteins that can be erosive to the linings of stomachs and intestines of certain people when eaten in high levels.
For more information about what to eat and avoid to help ease digestive distress, check out these helpful articles:
How to Support Your Health Through Herbal Tea
6 Healthy Recipes for a Better Thanksgiving
10 Foods That Are Essential to Your Health