5 Keys to Overcome Bloating and Gas When Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet 

Many people who are new to a plant-based diet find themselves more bloated than usual in the beginning, and this can be very uncomfortable, so much so that they may believe that this diet is unsuitable for them. It can become so painful that you may even wonder if there is something wrong.

However, before you panic and quit, know that your body’s reactions to your new food choices are entirely natural and it’s just your body transitioning from your standard diet to one this is much richer in fiber and nutrients. Now that you’re eating more fiber and cellulose-rich vegetables and legumes, your body is adjusting. The bloating and gas will subside once your microbiome, the bacterial population that resides in your gut, will change with this diet. The new microbiome your body will support will be healthier and more beneficial for you now and in the future, so long as you don’t take antibiotics, where you may need to start this whole process all over again.

Here are five tips to help you overcome this phase, so you don’t have to give up your new, healthier plant-based lifestyle and stick to it for good:

1. Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements in the Beginning 

Bloating and gas are signs of a digestive enzymes shortage. When you don’t have enough, you feel gastrointestinal discomfort in the form of indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. Digestive enzyme supplements will help your body break down the carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber you eat helping your body digest them more easily.
Your body is meant to naturally and effectively break down foods for you. However, if you’ve been eating a diet composed of processed, overcooked, or stored foods or a diet rich in animal proteins, many of the beneficial enzymes in your body have been either destroyed, impairing your digestion, or there is an imbalance in digestive enzymes. Now that you’ve moved to a plant-based diet, you’re on the road to restoring your body’s natural digestive enzymes with time.

2. Eat Probiotic-Rich Foods and supplements

Probiotic-rich foods include fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, pickles, and sauerkraut. Probiotics are often referred to as “friendly” bacteria which aid in digestion, and absorption of nutrients, thus preventing gas and bloating. Probiotics can help alleviate gas by improving intestinal function which influences how much gas in your body is produced. According to a study led by Chang-Hwan Choi from the Department of Internal Medicine, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea, probiotics affect bacterial fermentation which influences intestinal motility and the production of gases. [1] Supplementation during the early stages of transition to a plant-based diet is also very helpful. Take probiotics with fatty foods to aid in assimilation. When looking for a good probiotic supplement, find one that has 10 strains or more of different bacteria and go for high colony forming units (CFU’s) preferably over 50 billion CFU’s with the best being 100 billion CFU’s.

3. Soak Foods Longer 

Untreated phytic acid combines with zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. By soaking grains and beans overnight before cooking them the next day, you help rid them of the anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, saponins, and lectins that cause indigestion, gas and bloating.

4. Sprouting Foods 

Sprouting is the simple process of germinating seeds and thus bringing out their enzymes. By consuming sprouts, your body is receiving rich sources of nutrients including more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants. Sprouted grains are also an excellent source of essential amino acids, folate, and fiber which all help alleviate bloating and gas.

5. Time and Persistence 

Be patient. For some people, the transition takes longer, and you may feel bloated for longer. Your body will eventually adapt. Your microbiome will shift to become healthier with different bacterial strains to break down the increased levels of fiber. Also, your body will make more salivary amylase enzyme in the mouth to help the carbohydrate digestive process begin at the very start of the digestive process.

Soon, you’ll notice much less bloating, and gas and you will also feel better. The secret is to remain persistent and stick with your new dietary habits for your body to make the changes as quickly as possible. Remember that a little bloating and gas is much better than going back to your old lifestyle and dietary habits, and a little bloating and gas occurs on every single diet as this is a natural byproduct of all digestion.

The benefits of a plant-based diet are many and include reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, bacterial and viral infections as well as looking and feeling better and being more energetic.

 

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Galit Goldfarb

References: 

[1] J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015 Jan; 21(1): 4–7. doi:  10.5056/jnm14142

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