8 Popular Foods Singaporeans Always Eat That Secretly Cause Digestive Problems

Foods that secretly cause digestive problems

Nomming on good food is a national pastime for most Singaporeans. Whether it’s that shiok meal that we deserve after a long day toiling at work or the memories made at a fancy restaurant with our loved ones, good food is pretty much the common denominator in all our social equations.

But as that old cliché goes, sometimes it’s the things we love the most that end up killing us. From your daily dose of sobering coffee goodness to the leafy greens in your fitspo salad bowls, be mindful of these eight popular foods that secretly cause digestive problems so you don’t get any unnecessary tummy aches.

Read till the end to find out how DBS/POSB Cardmembers can get access to member rates on telemedicine services. This means that if you do feel under the weather, you can go for video consultations and get prescriptions from doctors without even leaving your house.

1. Mala xiang guo – spicy food leading to burning stomach pains

Image credit: Eatbook

Ah, mala – the ultimate sharing dish to test you and your friends’ spice tolerance. Although there are a revered few who can withstand the heat of the te la” or extra spicy level, the meek majority of us are forced to chug water to douse the numbing heat.

Even if you’re eating the least spicy level, the capsaicin found in the spice-laden oil base and deeply embedded in the ingredients irritates both your stomach and intestinal linings, which eventually leads to painful repeated trips to the porcelain throne. This same compound also causes a vexing burning sensation at the core of your gut, and is the cause for stomach cramps.

Plus, spicy foods are notorious skin irritants that increase your chances of an acne breakout, so it’s best to lay off on the spicy food if you’re looking to preserve a flawless complexion.

2. Bubble tea – dehydrating drink with hard-to-digest bobas

Image credit: Eatbook

Bubble tea has become part and parcel of most Singaporeans’ lives – we simply can’t resist the allure of a refreshing iced tea complete with chewy boba, no matter the time of day.

The problem with this sinful drink lies in the pearls, which contain preservatives and thickeners that are tough to digest. Coupled with our tendency to slurp down those starchy spheres without chewing them fully, consuming too much bubble tea is a surefire way to contract a gastrointestinal disorder like constipation.

Folks who order drinks with a sugar level past 75% might want to dial down on the sweetness front too. These sugary indulgences dehydrate your body and leave you thirsty even though you just drank. Excessive consumption of sugar will increase your diabetes risk too, so it’s best to keep the sugar levels on the low or opt for naturally-sweetened alternatives like honey tea.

3. Coffee – acidic drink that can cause heartburn

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Sipping that cuppa coffee in the morning or when we’ve reached a midday slump is the perfect energiser to help us push through the day. This naturally acidic beverage doesn’t sit too well in some people’s tummies though, so drinking too much might cause acid reflux and create a scorching sensation in your chest area known as heartburn.

Coffee contains a compound known as chlorogenic acid that irritates your intestinal lining. The large amounts of amino acids as well as caffeine, a.k.a. our saviour, can also further aggravate your stomach, causing stomach cramps and leaving you feeling nauseous.

Pro-tip: To enjoy your caffeine fix minus the suffering, make sure to avoid drinking coffee on an empty stomach – having non-acidic foods in your stomach will help to neutralise and dilute the acidic coffee compounds.

4. Salads – insoluble fibre that leads to chronic bloating

Image credit: Eatbook

Our clean-eating holy grail, salads are a go-to – especially popular among office workers looking to fuel up on something low-carb to avoid that post-lunch food coma. But if you’re feeling bloated after munching on some greens, chances are your body’s having a hard time digesting the insoluble fibres that are rife in raw veggies.

In addition, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage contain a carbohydrate – yes, veggies contain some carbs too! – called raffinose that produces gas and exacerbates that pesky bloating feeling.

It’s normal for some people’s gastrointestinal tract to be extra sensitive to certain foods, so if salads are giving your stomach too many problems, it’s best to enjoy them sparingly. Opt for cooked alternatives instead, as the heat helps to break down fibres and lets your digestive system absorb the nutrients much easier.

5. Fried chicken – low fibre, high fat diarrhea trigger

Image credit: Eatbook

Whether it’s the finger-lickin’ good combos from KFC or saucy Korean-style chicken wings, munching on some crispy fried chicken every now and then never fails to hit the spot. 

Nutrition-wise, fried chicken spells double trouble – it’s full of hard-to-digest fats and is low in the nutrient that helps you digest faster, fibre. The undigested remnants of your devoured chicken can move through your body quickly and in turn, have a laxative effect that leads to an unpleasant bout of diarrhea.

Fast food value sets often come with other greasy sides like fries. Consuming too much oily food will diminish the effectiveness of the healthy bacteria in your gut, impairing their weight regulation and fibre digesting properties. The resulting digestive problems could not only give you abdominal discomfort, but cause the numbers on the scale to soar over time as well.

6. Burnt cheesecake – dairy-induced stomach pains and nausea

Image credit: Eatbook

Most Singaporeans already had a pre-existing love affair with cheesecakes long before the burnt cheesecake trend washed up on local shores this year. But indulging in this decadent dessert can trigger a slew of dairy-induced side effects, including digestive problems like stomach aches and nausea.

Soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta are usually the ingredients of choice to get the perfect cheesecake consistency. Unfortunately, these cheeses are particularly high in lactose, so it could set off an avalanche of dairy problems for those who’re lactose intolerant.

The odd thing about lactose intolerance is that it isn’t strictly hereditary, you can also develop it over time as your body loses lactase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose. Asians are exceptionally susceptible to this condition, so don’t be surprised if cheesecakes and other dairy products suddenly become the bane of your existence.

7. Eggs Benedict – too much cholesterol that clogs your arteries

Image credit: Eatbook

Settling down with a classy plate of Eggs Benedict at a café sounds like the perfect way to spend your brunch time. The yolky ooze might pair splendidly with the muffin, but this cholesterol-filled meal can lead to your arteries being clogged, increasing the risk of you contracting cardiovascular diseases. 

Another hallmark of the Eggs Benedict is the famed Hollandaise sauce that trickles down the bun, but that creamy goodness is another potential recipe for disaster. Comprising butter, salt, cream and more egg yolks, you’re looking at even more cholesterol being pumped into the dish. 

There’s also a chance of a Salmonella infection as raw egg yolks could be involved during the sauce preparation process, so enjoy this lavish brunch at your own risk.

Fun fact: A single egg contains around 186MG of cholesterol, and the daily recommended cholesterol intake is 300MG. A typical plate of Eggs Benedict already contains more than one egg, so you might want to steer clear of this dish after doing the math.

8. Protein bars – contain sugar alcohols that are intolerable to most

Image credit: LifeSavvy

Thanks to attractive packaging that screams “low sugar, high protein”, protein bars have fast become a healthy snack for fitspo peeps to indulge in. While it is a convenient way to get those extra macros into your system, you might want to have a double take on your protein bars’ ingredient list and examine if they contain sugar alcohols.

A substitute for regular sugar, sugar alcohols are commonly used to give foods a lower sugar amount without compromising on taste. Sorbitol, in particular, is a sugar alcohol that 80 percent of people have difficulty digesting. Too much of this sugar substitute causes stomach discomforts and digestive problems like gassiness and diarrhea.

Additionally, dairy-derived proteins like casein and whey are what give these bars their massive protein content – and that slightly unpleasant aftertaste too. This hard-to-digest protein duo also compounds that gassy feeling as they take a while to be fully broken down by the body, so they’ll stick around to give your tummy an extended round of trouble.

Consult a doctor anywhere with DBS Telemedicine

Image credit: DBS

With the holiday season in full swing and lots of plans for festive feasts, the last thing you’d want is for digestive problems to hamper your merry-making plans. 

You won’t even have to set foot out of your safe abode, with the availability of tele-consultation services and medicine deliveries via DBS/POSB Telemedicine’s list of telemedical partners. Receive a medical diagnosis from the comfort of your home and have your medicine delivered to you, from $12 nett.

DBS/POSB Cardmembers get access to member rates from partnered telemedicine providers, such as the following:

Doctor Anywhere: Video consults with a doctor for $15 using the code “DBS15” at checkout.

HiDoc: First specialist consultation from $72-$108 and subsequent specialist consultations at $54-$72.

MaNaDr: Medical chat and video consultation at $15 with SMC-registered doctors using your DBS/POSB credit or debit card at checkout.

Minmed Group: Tele-medical consultation at $12 nett with free medicine delivery and 10% discount off supplements at Minmed’s Online Supplement Shop using the code “DBSMM” at checkout.

Other services include:

Minmed Group: Health screening packages from $239 – $550 nett using the code “DBSMM” at checkout.

HiDoc: 10% discount at HiDoc’s e-Shop (HiDoc for iOS, HiDoc for Android)

These member rates extend to other partnered healthcare providers. You’ll be able to get your flu vaccination at $38 nett and dental treatments from $75 nett. Book now with Jebhealth.

Taking one’s health for granted is a cardinal sin we shouldn’t be committing, especially after the topsy-turvy year that was 2020. We can start by eating these eight popular foods that secretly cause digestive problems in moderation, keeping our HP levels at a high throughout 2021.

Find out more about telemedicine deals for DBS/POSB Cardmembers here

This post was brought to you by DBS.
Cover image adapted from: Eatbook

Benjamin Wellesley

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