People who have a diet based on plants feel a little bloated sometimes. Why is that? It has to do with the quickly amping up your fiber intake. Sometimes, bloating could actually signal an improvement in gut health.
As you know, fiber is an important part of promoting overall health. It lowers your risk of certain cancers, improves cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels stable and it keeps your digestive system regular. Fibers are also important in the losing weight process, as they help you feel full for longer.
Here, a look at how fiber can contribute to bloating and you will find out why feeling a little bloated can be a good thing for your health.
What science says
Researchers found people who consumed protein-rich fiber sources (i.e., beans, nuts and seeds) noted more bloating compared to those who ate primarily carbohydrate-rich fiber sources like oats, quinoa, brown rice and other whole grains. The study was conducted on 164 people who switched from low-fiber to high-fiber diets.
The study author Noel Mueller, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health affirms: On a high-fiber diet, substituting 10% of your calories from carbohydrate for protein resulted in 40% more bloating, on average,”.
Being a little bloated advantage
“However, this may be a sign of beneficial changes to the gut microbiota induced by the plant-based proteins — legumes, nuts and seeds — used in our high-protein diet.”
Although you may feel uncomfortable when you’re bloated, it may signify health-promoting processes are happening within your digestive system. Muelle explains: “Plant-based proteins are rich sources of soluble fiber and thus more fermentable by gut microbiota,”. This results in more gas-producing potential, while simultaneously aiding your gut health, which can contribute to weight loss and overall health.
Steps to do if you want to reduce bloating
People are different and experience bloating differently. For some it can be a great discomfort, while others are not so bothered. Allison Knott, RD says: “Don’t assume that all high-fiber protein sources will contribute to bloating,” “Give them a try and modify your diet accordingly, preferably with the guidance of a registered dietitian. Know that some bloating and gas is very normal, especially after eating, and will typically pass within a few hours and/or after having a normal bowel movement.”
Try making other changes before eliminating high-fiber protein-containing foods from your diet if bloating is an issue for you. “Bloating can be reduced by cutting back on sodium or salt in your diet as well as staying hydrated,” says Mueller.
Some people may experience less bloating if they ramp up the fiber content in their diet over a longer period of time. Knott affirms: “This allows the body to get used to it, rather than going from low-fiber to high-fiber overnight,”.
In almost all cases, the health benefits of a high-fiber diet outweigh the burden of bloating. There are also ways to minimize the discomfort of being bloated. In addition to drinking water regularly, switch your diet to whole grains. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional who can help create an individualized plan if you have questions.