Bloating is one of the most common complaints from transitioning vegans. It makes you uncomfortable in your own skin and can be discouraging. YouTube blogger Mic The Vegan shares the reason why many people experience bloating when switching to a plant-based diet and provides well-researched solutions to make sure you can enjoy your vegan meals.
Brooklyn, United States – Nearly everyone has dealt with bloating when transitioning to a vegan diet. Even if you haven’t, you most certainly read about it on various vegan forums or heard your vegan friend complaining of it. It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t look good, and it makes your transition to vegan lifestyle uncomfortable. The good news is, most of the time it is due to simple reasons that a person experiences bloating when switching to a plant-based diet and with simple scientifically backed methods they can reduce and prevent the problem.
Read on to discover the simple yet unexpected reasons why you might be bloated along with easy ways to prevent and banish the bloat.
Spike In Intake Of Fiber
Believe it or not, one major cause of bloating when going vegan is simply eating more fiber. This is the obvious result of eating more plants. While some view digestive upsets when going vegan as a flaw in the vegan diet, it is actually the result of a previously fiber deficient diet. Seriously, 97% of people in the US are not meeting the minimum for fiber intake! In fact, while the Institute of Medicine recommends around 30 grams per day of fiber, the average person in the US only eats around 15 grams per day or half of the minimum (Source). For a sense of scale, an apple has about 5 grams, a cup of oatmeal has about 10 grams and just one cup of black beans has 15 grams. Despite being twice the fiber that people are eating, it is possible that even the 30-gram minimum is too low since our prehistoric ancestors were eating around 100 grams of fiber a day. Believe it or not, 100 grams is quite achievable on a vegan diet. One thing is for certain though, no one’s digestive system is ready to go from 15 grams to 100 grams of fiber overnight. Simply put, the reason why you feel bloated when adopting a vegan diet is that you started eating a lot of veggies and fruits than you’re used to eating.
Why does fiber cause bloating? The bloating itself is actually a bloom of healthy bacteria that release gases as it breaks down the fiber. These gases force your digestive system to expand uncomfortably. However, that shift in bacteria population also represents a simultaneous lowering of potentially pathogenic bacteria. That means less of the bad guys. According to research on the topic, a vegan gut has lower levels of E. coli and other pathogenic strains (Source). This is also an increase in bacteria that digest phytates, one of those pesky anti-nutrients that can lower mineral absorption (Source).
Solution: Ramp up your fiber slowly
Why go full fiber all at once? There are plenty of vegan foods that are lower in fiber that you can use to slowly boost your fiber intake instead of going full fiber overnight. This way over time your gut bacteria can adapt to moderate levels of fiber consumption without the upset. Even whole wheat bread is quite low with a slice only containing around 2 grams. Other lower fiber plant foods include watermelon, white rice, and sadly, virtually all processed foods which are not exactly health foods. But keep in mind, eating lower fiber means avoiding some of the healthiest foods on the planet like legumes, the number one dietary predictor of survival in elderly populations (Source). So, think of it as a short-term solution and gradually increase your fiber intake.
Candida Fungus Building On Refined Foods
Sometimes fiber is not the culprit; it could be Candida Albicans, a naturally occurring fungus in the digestive tract which can cause bloating. While increasing fiber is a general trend when going vegan, some people may turn toward vegan sweets and processed foods with refined oil. After all, it’s hard to resist those vegan delicacies, especially when they’re so hard to get. The combination of refined oil and sugars can spike blood sugar levels and feed Candida which leads to bloating.
Reducing the intake of processed foods
Yes, this is quite the opposite of the excess fiber issue so the solution is also the opposite: increasing the intake of whole plant foods. This means eating more vegetables and switching out refined grains for whole grains.
Consuming peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is a great remedy for getting rid of that discomforting bloating. As per the study published in Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection, peppermint oil, as well as eucalyptus oil, were highly effective at eliminating candida in a petri dish. In a separate 2016 study on peppermint oil and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, they found that there was a 32% decrease in bloating in subjects after taking peppermint oil for 28 days (Source). To determine this, they actually measured how far out the subjects’ bellies were protruding!
Other Simple But Effective Tips to Prevent Bloating:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate as sipping enough water flushes out the toxins
- Eat slowly and savor every meal, don’t eat too fast
- Eat more often but less food
- Eat less salt and season your meals with spices like turmeric, thyme, and cayenne to cut down on sodium
Mic The Vegan is a vegan science writer and Vlogger advocating health, environmental and sociological aspects of a plant-based diet. His YouTube channel is a collection of thought-provoking videos which are a mix of scientific literature, opinion, and humor. His goal is to debunk the myths about veganism that perpetuate harmful dietary and lifestyle behaviors with some humor to encourage people to adopt this cruelty-free lifestyle without any worries or fears.
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