People who want to eat healthier often add more fruits and vegetables to their diet. But for some people this causes increased flatulence. Experts explain which foods help and which can be more harmful.
Eating more fruits and vegetables that provide valuable fiber is a step in the right direction to manage cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and overall weight. Unfortunately, foods rich in fiber are often accompanied by flatulence. A current article from the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA) explains which foods can reduce flatulence.
Recommended fiber intake depends on age
The amount of fiber each person needs depends on age. In general, men ages 50 and younger should consume 38 grams of fiber daily, while women this age should aim for 25 grams daily.
With increasing age, fiber intake recommendations decrease. Men age 51 and older should consume 30 grams of fiber daily; Women should aim for 21 grams daily.
However, if you are not used to consuming fiber-rich foods in your diet, you should do so slowly to avoid bloating and stomach pain.
Also keep in mind that certain foods – and drinks – can trigger excessive digestive problems. Consider avoiding some common culprits and you can continue on your path to a more nutritious lifestyle.
Fruits high in fructose
Many people avoid fruits because fruit contains sugars, including fructose and sorbitol, which can cause inflammation and bloating. But fruit contains fiber, which is important for a healthy diet, as well as beneficial vitamins and minerals.
If you have frequent bloating, avoid high fructose fruits such as apples, pears, and watermelon.
Instead, choose bananas, oranges and darker fruits like blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, which contain valuable antioxidants.
Beans and lentils
Although beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein and fiber, these foods also contain complex sugars called oligosaccharides, which cause bloating as they pass through the digestive system.
To reduce the amount of sugar, always wash canned beans and make sure they are thoroughly cooked. Cooking the beans until they are very soft will help reduce gas formation.
Alternative, easier-to-digest options that cause less bloating include tofu, tempeh, or quinoa.
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are particularly difficult to digest because of their complex fiber and tend to ferment in the intestines, causing bloating.
Alternative nutrient-dense foods that are gentle on the gut include dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard.
Onions and garlic
Onions and garlic can be difficult to digest. This is because they contain fructan, which can ferment in the intestines and cause nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.
To reduce sensitivity, cook the vegetables well or soak them in water for at least 15 minutes if eating them raw. You may also consider using powder versions – although some people may still be sensitive to them.
To improve the flavor of your dishes, look for alternatives like celery, fennel, shallots or chives. You can also add other spices and herbs like basil, ginger, and oregano to add depth to your meals without fear of digestive problems.
With a few adjustments, you can relieve the bloating and discomfort you feel. Other tips include:
Eat smaller meals more often. Instead of eating large meals, eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. This approach can help your digestive system process food more efficiently, reducing the risk of bloating.
Eat slowly. Taking the time to chew your food thoroughly can help the food in your mouth to be broken down properly, aiding digestion and reducing strain on your stomach. This will also help you avoid overeating, which can put unnecessary strain on your digestive system and lead to more bloating.
Drink enough. Make sure you drink enough water daily to support healthy digestion. Adequate hydration helps food move smoothly through your digestive tract.
Avoid carbonated drinks. Soda and other carbonated drinks introduce excess air into the digestive system, causing more bloating. Instead, drink still water or try peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea after meals, which can aid digestion and soothe your gut.
Keep a food diary. As you change your diet, consider keeping a food diary to record what you eat and how you feel afterwards. This approach can help you identify specific bloating-causing foods and make further adjustments for your comfort.
If necessary, seek medical attention
Hopefully, making small changes will allow you to enjoy your new diet without any unpleasant side effects. Fiber has many benefits, including long-term improved gut health.
However, if you still experience bloating or other abdominal discomfort, speak to your primary care provider. He or she can rule out food allergies or other medical conditions. (ad)