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 milk, bread and meat 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.

While 46.6% of respondents said dairy milk is good for causing gastrointestinal distress, 30.6% believed it was bad for their digestion.

In contrast there was no confusion about yogurt, with 68.7% believing it’s good for their digestive health, and only 8.9% believing it’s bad for their digestion.

More than half (55%) said they choose lactose-free foods for their digestive health, although only 15% claim to be lactose-intolerant.

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

  • 34%, believed bread was bad for digestive health, while 24% thought bread was good for their digestion.
  • 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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