Adopting a plant-based diet full of healthy foods is one of the most well-researched ways to improve and support your long-term health. But what do you do when you make the switch to a vegan diet and suddenly you’ve got more gas than a hot air balloon.
In my experience, most people adopting a higher-fiber plant-based diet seem to have improved bowel habits quite quickly with brief and mild, if any, digestive problems. But certainly not all people have such a smooth transition, depending on what your diet has been like previous to the change and how much of variation your new diet is.
The reason for the bloating is very simple: increased fibre.
Fiber is food for bacteria in your gut, particularly your large intestine. In a very simplistic way, when you first change your diet, you may not have the optimal bacterial community adapted to your new diet. And the bacteria you do have to ferment fiber may be producing gas in amounts that is new to your gastrointestinal system and may cause bloating, discomfort, and gassiness.
Hold on the first dates to the cinema 🙂
This does usually get better as your bacterial community changes. In my experience, this may take a few weeks, though this is highly variable.
My first suggestion: stop worrying — you don’t need to let these reactions deter you from eating a plant-based diet. In fact your stomachs reaction is a good sign of returning gut health.
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms — both friendly and unfriendly. Maintaining the right balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria in your gut will improve digestion, reduce inflammation, decrease anxiety, and even improve brain function and mood in the long run. So in this case it’s definitely short term pain for long term gain – hang in there.
7 WAYS TO HELP REDUCE BLOATING AND GAS:
1. BEAN /LEGUME PRE PREP
Always wash dry beans thoroughly then soak for at least 3 hours before cooking them. Then when you start cooking, boil for 5 minutes, discard the water and rinse again. This helps eliminate some of the molecules that favour gas formation.
2. EAT LIGHT TO HEAVY
Our digestive process requires a great deal of energy when we eat heavy meals, so if we start our day off with a large meal — or even just a complex meal — our bodies have to work hard to break them down. This can lead to fatigue, bloating, sluggishness, and even stomach pain during the day. Try having a bowl of some fruit first. Fruit is very easy to digest on an empty stomach and is also high in natural enzymes that can help with digestion first thing during the day. So experiment with having a small bowl of fruit, or droit smoothie first, and then later move onto something more filling such as oatmeal or breakfast quinoa.
3. EAT NATURAL PROBIOTICS
Probiotics are live microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed. Probiotics — which are usually beneficial bacteria — provide all sorts of powerful benefits for your body and brain and can help ease the intensity of bloating and gas.
Probiotics protects us in two ways: firstly, by keeping our digestive tract healthy by replacing the lost beneficial bacteria and through our immune system, and secondly, they help maintain the correct balance of good bacteria to prevent allergic reactions or autoimmune disorders.
The good news is you can find these good bacterias in 5 awesome fermented/vegan foods: Sauerkraut, Miso, Pickles, Kimchi & Kombucha
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Europe. In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber as well as vitamins C, B and K. It is also high in sodium and contains iron and manganese.
Miso is a Japanese seasoning. It’s traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji. Miso can also be made by mixing soybeans with other ingredients, such as barley, rice and rye. This paste is most often used in miso soup, a popular breakfast food in Japan. Miso is typically salty. You can buy it in many varieties, such as white, yellow, red and brown.
Pickles (also known as gherkins) are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water. They are left to ferment for some time, using their own naturally present lactic acid bacteria. This process makes them sour. Pickled cucumbers are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria which may improve digestive health.
Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish. Cabbage is usually the main ingredient, but it can also be made from other vegetables. Kimchi is flavored with a mix of seasonings, such as red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, scallion and salt. Kimchi contains the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus kimchii, as well as other lactic acid bacteria that may benefit digestive health.
Kombucha is a popular tea that’s fermented by a friendly colony of bacteria and yeast. It is consumed in many parts of the world, especially Asia. Because kombucha is fermented with bacteria and yeast, it possesses health benefits related to its probiotic properties.
4. EAT LOW FAT
There’s no need to fear healthy plant fats, but the truth is, fat takes longer to digest than any other macronutrient. When you eat fat with a meal, it slows down the digestion and breaking down of nutrients of all other foods you eat with that meal, which can cause a lot of gas and cause you to be bloated.
5. WHOLE FOODS OVER PROCESSED
Whole foods are always going to be healthier for your body than processed food, and this is especially true when it comes to digestion. When you eat real food, you skip a lot of problematic ingredients that are often found in products and make things much easier on your system. Not only will you feel more energized and lighter as a result of better digestion from eating real foods, but you’ll also naturally take in more nutrients. Switch out vegan ice cream for banana ice cream, instead of boxed cereal or granola make a bowl of oatmeal and instead of mock meats or pre made vegan burgers make your own veggie burgers at home.
6. PEPPERMINT TEA
In traditional medicine, peppermint (Mentha piperita) is widely recognized for helping soothe digestive issues. It has a cool, refreshing flavor. Test-tube, animal, and human studies suggest that flavonoids and oil in peppermint may relieve bloating. However, one study found that a single tea bag supplied six times more peppermint oil than a serving of peppermint leaf capsules. Therefore, peppermint tea may be quite potent.
7. DRINK MORE WATER
Pay attention to the beverages you’re consuming: coffee, alcohol and some teas may exacerbate stomach discomfort and bloating. Try eliminating these drinks. In their place make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins and keep things moving along.
Regardless of how intense your bloating is or how long you have to endure it, always keep in mind that it will get better. Just stick with it and you will be happy and healthy once you reach the other side.
To your best health.
Bec & Sam (AKA Mr & Mrs Jacked on Plants) x