Are smoothies bad for your stomach?

Smoothies have become an increasingly popular way to get a quick and nutritious breakfast or snack. Blending together fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk, juice, and other ingredients into a cold, thick beverage seems like a convenient way to pack in the nutrients. However, some people find that drinking smoothies, especially in large amounts or frequently throughout the day, can lead to stomach discomfort. So are smoothies actually bad for your stomach?

Potential causes of stomach discomfort from smoothies

There are a few reasons why smoothies may cause stomach issues for some people:

  • High fiber content – Many smoothies contain fruits and vegetables with soluble and insoluble fiber. While fiber is healthy, dramatically increasing your fiber intake can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables – Some smoothies use lots of raw produce which may be more difficult to digest than cooked. People with sensitive stomachs may experience discomfort from the excess fiber and natural sugars in raw fruits and veggies.
  • Unstrained seeds and skins – Smoothie ingredients like berries and kiwi have small seeds and tough skins that may irritate the digestive tract when blended in. Similarly, nut butters and flax or chia seeds could cause tummy troubles if not strained out.
  • Lactose intolerance – Dairy products like milk and yogurt are common smoothie add-ins. People with lactose intolerance may experience gas, cramps, or diarrhea after consuming the lactose sugar in dairy.
  • Added sweeteners – Many smoothies include honey, agave, maple syrup or other sweeteners which can draw water into the intestines and cause diarrhea when consumed in excess.
  • Cold temperature – Some people may experience stomach cramps or discomfort from drinking extremely cold smoothies, especially if consumed quickly.
  • Overconsumption – Drinking very large smoothies or several smoothies spaced closely together can overload the digestive system, causing discomfort.

Tips to prevent stomach issues from smoothies

While smoothies do have the potential to cause stomach problems for some people, there are ways to enjoy them without discomfort:

  • Gradually increase fiber – Slowly ramp up the amount of high fiber fruits, veggies, and seeds in your smoothies to give your body time to adjust.
  • Use mainly cooked ingredients – Lightly steaming or roasting veggies can make them easier to digest.
  • Remove seeds, peels, and skins – Deseed berries, peel kiwis, and remove banana or mango skins when practical.
  • Limit or avoid dairy – Opt for plant-based milks or small amounts of yogurt if lactose is an issue.
  • Go easy on added sugars – Limit high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and other sweeteners as they can cause diarrhea.
  • Avoid overfilling – Stick to around 2 cups of smoothie at a time to prevent overwhelming your system.
  • Drink slowly – Sip your smoothie over 30+ minutes instead of gulping it down quickly.
  • Pay attention to ingredients – Keep a food journal to identify problem ingredients that seem to trigger stomach troubles.

Best and worst smoothie ingredients for sensitive stomachs

Choosing the right ingredients is key to preventing stomach issues from smoothies. Here are some of the best and worst smoothie add-ins for people with sensitive digestion:

Best Ingredients Worst Ingredients
Bananas Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, kale)
Melons Beans, lentils, legumes
Avocados Onions, garlic
Cooked root vegetables Raw spinach, arugula
Oats, rice Apples, pears (with skin)
Nut butters Berries with seeds
Chia, flax, hemp seeds Citrus fruits
Coconut milk, oil, water Stone fruits with skins
Ginger Dairy (if lactose intolerant)
Herbal tea High fructose corn syrup

Tips for making smoothies gentler on sensitive stomachs

With the right preparation methods, recipe tweaks, and ingredients swaps, you can still enjoy smoothies without stomach upset:

  • Remove seeds, peels, and tough skins from produce
  • Cook vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes
  • Puree well to break down fiber
  • Avoid adding ice to prevent extreme coldness
  • Use frozen diced produce instead of ice
  • Limit high-fiber fruits like berries
  • Soak chia seeds in liquid before blending
  • Strain out flax and chia seeds if needed
  • Use nut butters instead of whole nuts
  • Opt for nourishing fats like avocado and coconut
  • Include soothing ingredients like ginger, chamomile, peppermint
  • Dilute with coconut water, herbal tea, or aloe juice
  • Sweeten with minimal amounts of honey, maple syrup, dates
  • Replace dairy milk with nut, seed, oat, or coconut milk


Smoothies can be hard on the stomach for some people due to their fiber content, raw ingredients, cold temperature, and other add-ins. However, by gradually increasing fiber intake, cooking vegetables, removing skins and seeds, limiting problem foods, and choosing gentle ingredients, most people can continue to enjoy smoothies without GI distress. Pay attention to your individual tolerance and tweak recipes accordingly to find the best smoothie formula for your sensitive system.

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