Digestive Health

The digestive system involves multiple body organs, including the stomach and intestines. The digestive tract is critical for nutrient absorption and is an integral part of our immune system and how we interact with the outside world.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Related Info
  • Success Stories


Our digestive system is dependent on multiple factors to maintain proper function, including:

  • Fiber in diet
  • Multiple phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients in diet
  • Healthy balance of intestinal flora
  • Avoidance of toxins, chemicals, and medications
  • Others

When the digestive system breaks down from a disruption of these protecting factors, the result can lead to one of multiple medical problems such as:

  • Constipation
  • Diverticulosis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcers
  • Increased risk of developting autoimmune disease
  • Many others

A Nutritarian eating style is designed to dramatically reduce the risk of developing and resolving these conditions and many others.


Action Plan


  • The foods that are part of a Nutritarian eating style favorably support beneficial bacteria and improve immune function and digestive health.
  • A Nutritarian diet is a very effective way to achieve regularity and ease of bowel movements, as it is high in all types of fiber and water and has favorable effects on fueling the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Chew food thoroughly. Try to chew each bite until it is liquid in your mouth before swallowing.

Other Considerations

  • If experiencing digestive upset, consider using a probiotic daily, which may be helpful for a variety of digestive issues, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. A probiotic is also helpful after a course of antibiotics to help build back the healthy intestinal flora.
  • Stay active. Physically moving helps move your stool through your intestines more efficiently. The more regular your physical activity is, the better it works.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


I have celiac disease. I have been gluten free for over 4 years. However, in my earlier years I made a huge mistake and ate gluten. Now I am nutrient deficient due to damaged villi.

Do you know of any way to get the nutrients I need?


As you remain gluten free, the villi will heal and you will be able to have maximal absorption of nutrients. Eat very carefully and take the recommended supplements including vitamin D. Have a 25 hydroxy vitamin D level done to see if you are sufficient as you progress.


I was diagnosed with celiac disease shortly after I was born. My parents were never given much information about it, so I was fed foods with gluten as I grew older. How can I find out if the diagnosis was correct? Are there definitive tests that I can take?


One way to test for this is a blood test called “Celiac Disease Reflexive Panel” which will go through a series of tests, depending on the first one drawn, minimizing extra tests you don’t need. Another way to do it is to just do the following two tests which, if positive, will indicate high likelihood of the disease.

Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody, IgA
Deamidated Gliadin Peptide Antibodies, IgA

The blood tests are not the gold standard (biopsy of your intestines is) but will at least give you somewhat of a confirmation. If you notice sensitivity to gluten with your experience, then this is a test all by itself and should be recognized regardless of the blood test results because you could still have sensitivity to gluten and not technically have the diagnosis of Celiac.


What is the best diet for an ulcer? All my doctor told me is to take Pepcid AC, and eat a bland diet!


Avoid any drinks such as alcohol, coffee or tea and certainly avoid any soft drinks. Avoid spicy foods. Reduce the amount of acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus, for now until it heals. Otherwise, you should be able to eat a variety of cooked vegetables, starchy and non-starchy, and perhaps fewer raw vegetables, but it is ok to eat all other fruits and berries. Cabbage juice or other cruciferous greens consumed two to four ounces twice/day is soothing and can help the ulcer heal. Some end up taking a zinc-carnosine supplement to help the ulcer heal.


My husband has just been diagnosed with a peptic ulcer. Can he juice and blend? He’s a very S.A.D eater, so I have to tread lightly, but I want to offer him some support and guidance.


It’s the entirety of the diet that is important, however, he should include cruciferous vegetables daily. Eliminate refined foods, sweets, dairy, oils, breads, pasta, coffee, tea, and alcohol. Yes, blend foods high in quercetin, such as apples, leafy greens, and citrus fruit. Juice cabbage, kale, carrots and beets. Include cooked tomatoes, red grapes, and parsley in his diet.


I’ve been diagnosed with a mild form of ulcerative colitis. Hoping for a long-term solution to control this problem, I started your IBD protocol four days ago (I am only eating the foods listed in Phase 1, as noted in the March 2008 newsletter No 36 and taking all the recommended supplements) and was wondering about what to expect in terms of symptom reduction.

My current symptoms are blood and mucus with stool. How long should I expect to be on Phase 1 before the bleeding stops? Do I also need to wait for the mucus to stop completely before moving to Phase 2? In Phase 2, it says tofu can be added. Can beans be added then as well? When can whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet) be added back in?


It usually takes about 3 months to bring micronutrients in the body’s tissues to a high enough level to reduce the inflammatory response. Juicing speeds up this process. It sounds like your condition is not so severe, so the likelihood of a recovery via nutrition is high.

After a few weeks of phase one, beans can be added, but only start with a small amount for the first week and then increase very gradually. I would stick with brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and millet and not add back wheat for a few months, until you are considerably better. Make sure you are taking the supplements with probiotics, Vitamin D, and fish oil too.


I suffer from ulcerative colitis. The diet I am trying to heal with is:
Green smoothies without fruit; Dr. Fuhrman’s soup recipes, fully blended; homemade soft white bread; oatmeal; maybe a banana; some melon or a peach
What do you think? Will this diet help me heal?


First you have to review my protocol for ulcerative colitis that I describe in more depth in my newsletter on inflammatory bowel disease. The supplemental protocol is important too. You have to avoid the white bread, and in fact, it would be best to avoid all gluten grains. Make sure you’re having steamed kale, collards, and bok choy, along with steamed asparagus, squash, avocado, carrots, peas, artichokes, and mushrooms. Include some tofu or tempeh a few times a week. Doing this will reduce inflammation and provide the protective phytonutrients that are critical to heal your gut. Continue to have blended salads without fruit. Steam all the greens, including leafy greens, before blending in your smoothie, and add steamed zucchini to the smoothie. Raw fruits and vegetables can be irritating for a person with bloody ulcerations, and I like to keep the diet mostly cooked until the bleeding stops, and then, slowly introduce small amounts of soft lettuce and other raw food gradually.


I have been following a Nutritarian diet for a little over two years. I have been diagnosed with IBS and have occasional bouts with constipation, and the constipation, bloating, and gas have not stopped.

  1. I have been working on diet issues to try and resolve the gas problem. Considering that methane tends to lengthen transit time, would a product like Beano have any effect on alleviating the constipation?
  2. I noticed fructose, high fructose corn syrup, apples, pears etc. on the FODMAPS list mentioned in the IBS webinar. I don’t use added sugar but do eat the fruit on the list. I also use a lot of artificially sweetened breath mints. Could the artificial sweeteners and fruit be responsible for part of the constipation and bloating? Is stevia an acceptable artificial sweetener?

If you still have bowel problems on a Nutritarian diet, then you should be more vigilant avoiding the entire FODMAPS load. Beano is not the answer. The goal is to reduce the FODMAP load significantly, depriving the bacteria of a food source, which will reduce methane production. You should also avoid all polyols- these artificial sweeteners are another source of the problem. Both the fruit and the sweeteners are likely responsible for bloating and constipation. You should avoid all high fructose fruits. You can use stevia occasionally, but not every day.

Remember, for you it is the FODMAP load that is important. Most people can do well giving up the list discussed during the webinar. You should chew each bite very well, making sure you maximize the release of important phytochemicals like ITCs from your greens. You should also add the probiotic. If you continue to have symptoms after a period of a few months, we can reassess.


I recently had a wheat pita - it’s the first time I’ve had wheat in about two months. It seemed to trigger a migraine, so the next day I tried it again and got another migraine.

If wheat is what’s triggering the migraines, does that mean I’m allergic to wheat, and why am I not having migraines when I eat breads that aren’t whole wheat? Should I be tested for Celiac disease?

Is there a specific type of bread that I should be looking for now? Does it make a difference if it’s gluten-free?


Yes, wheat can trigger migraines as well as many other symptoms, but so can other added ingredients in the baked product you consumed. You may be gluten sensitive, but it might be a good idea to cook up some wheat berries in water or eat them plain to see if you still react to wheat. You can also purchase sprouted Manna bread from the frozen section of your health food store to see how you do. If gluten is indeed the culprit, the best way to deal with this is to avoid all gluten products for four to six weeks and see how you feel. Then, you can introduce a small amount of gluten into your diet, and keep a log of any symptoms, seeing if you tolerate a lesser amount.


I had never heard of gluten until a few years ago. There has recently been an explosion of "gluten free" products. I have read that gluten could be harmful to us and can be found in processed grains.

What is your take on the above, and where can I find a trustworthy source of information on gluten?


Gluten is not harmful to most people. The reaction to gluten exists on a spectrum. Gluten sensitivity affects many more people than celiac disease but still only a small percent of people (under 10 percent). Many of the negative aspects of eating wheat are due to the high glycemic load of white flour, not to the gluten content. All autoimmune diseases and allergies have been increasing over the past several decades due to exposure to unhealthy chemicals and unhealthy foods.

If you are experiencing symptoms that are not explained, it is worth removing gluten from your diet for a period of time. Generally, with gluten sensitivity, improvement in symptoms occurs quickly, usually within days. With celiac disease, resolution of symptoms takes longer.


I have a severe case of GERD and will be having my second endoscopy shortly. I am taking 20mg of Asiphex twice a day, and I was instructed to be on a bland diet until the endoscopy to control the intense burning. I am just starting a Nutritarian diet. What should I do to modify it to a "bland diet"?


Eating a "bland" diet will just perpetuate the problem, as GERD is promoted by lack of micronutrients on the typical low nutrient diet. I would postpone or cancel the endoscopy now, and use the next three months to revamp your body chemistry with a totally different nutritional approach. The health and the ability of the lining of the esophagus and stomach to resist inflammation is enhanced by the consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables and their juices, so take a proactive approach.

Your diet should include green juices, blended salads, steamed greens, and soups, but everything should be chewed to a liquid before swallowing. You also should be taking extra Vitamin D. The most important thing, of course, is no oil, sweets, baked goods or animal products. Let this be the start of a new you. Keep me posted how you are doing every few weeks and record everything you eat.

View More