Consumer confusion over which foods are good for digestive health

A consumer survey has found many are confused about what foods are good for digestive health.

The number of people who believe bread, meat and milk are good for digestion is almost the same as the number of people who believe they are bad.

The survey, carried out by consultancy New Nutrition Business, asked 3,000 people from the UK, Australia, Spain, Brazil and the US to rank foods as good or bad for their digestive health.

Thirty-four per cent of respondents said bread is bad for causing gastrointestinal distress, but 24% said it was good for their digestion.

And despite kefir and fermented vegetables being hyped as gut health heroes, more people believed bread was good for digestion than believed kefir (17.6%) or fermented vegetables (15.8%) were good.

Consumers are just as divided over the gut health benefits of milk and meat.

  • 46.6%, believed dairy milk was good for digestive health, while 30.6% thought milk was bad for their digestion.
  • 55%, said they choose lactose-free foods for their digestive health, although only 15% claim to be lactose-intolerant.
  • For meat, 27% of respondents said it was good for digestive wellness, while 33% believed it was bad.

“Contradictory consumer beliefs about which foods are good or bad for digestive health indicate how strongly attitudes about food and health are fragmented,” said Joana Maricato, research manager at New Nutrition Business. “Most people are adopting a wide variety of behaviours in relation to diet and health.”

Maricato added this confusion is a result of growing distrust in official dietary guidelines.

“Changes in dietary advice over the past 15 years have created consumer scepticism about the “expert” opinions of dieticians and nutrition researchers, just at the moment that technology has made it easier for people to find dietary information for themselves,” Maricato said.

More than three quarters of respondents (76%), said they thought messages about diet and health were confusing. Most said they searched online and read blogs to learn about healthy eating and diet, while only 28% asked a nutritionist or a dietician.

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