It is no fun to feel bloated. Surely, it is normal, most of the time, but how to know if bloating has passed the threshold of being a normal phenomenon? A vegan diet and gas are not that unrelated. While a vegan diet provides sufficient fiber to regulate bowel movement, switching from a low-fiber animal-based diet to a vegan diet can cause bloating. It is indeed noteworthy that one of the greatest challenges of undergoing a lifestyle transition is not the execution of the change but adapting to it.
But brace your heart, cause fiber is not the only reason behind vegan diet bloating. You would be surprised to know that a vegan diet and bloating in themselves could be unrelated given the practices that make for your food habits. So how long does bloating last when going vegan? And what are some of the effective vegan bloating remedies? Let’s explore the A to Z of a vegan diet and bloating in the premises of this article.
What is Bloating?
Bloating is a feeling of inconvenience in the abdomen as if it is unexpectedly full or expanded. You might also sense some rising pressure in the stomach due to an imbalanced or abnormal presence of gas, fluid, or food. Some might experience soreness in the abdomen, making even a touch painful. Nevertheless, it is discomforting for anyone even if that is not accompanied by pain. Not to mention, the puffiness and a seeming loss of shape are too undesirable if you are excessively bloated. However, understanding the difference between bloating and distension is also necessary. You may have both bloating and abdominal distension or experience bloating without abdominal distension.
Does A Vegan Diet Cause Excess Gas and Bloating?
On a primary level, most people switching into a higher-fiber plant-based diet get palatable access to improved bowel habits. Better bowel movement signals better digestive health. Yet practically speaking, that health reflection may arrive after a brief digestive inconvenience. It is not the same for everyone and depends heavily on what your previous diet pattern used to look like. If your animal-based diet was low in fiber content or you have incorporated some new foods to your present vegan plate, chances are high that you would experience gas and bloat. Two things to blame here, firstly, your microbiota in the gut and the trajectory of your transition.
When you suddenly jump into eating a lot of fruits and veggies, it gives a sharper shock to your digestion process. Since the gut flora, consisting of the good bacteria that help in breaking down the food, and the digestive enzymes, that your body has accustomed to producing in relation to your past diet, have not received enough time to adapt to the changes. There’s suddenly a lot of fibers on the plate or you are taking in foods that you are ignorantly intolerant to. Therefore, you need to pace down for maybe a few weeks, to allow your bacterial community and digestive enzymes to have sufficient time to evolve and adapt to your noble decision of taking up a vegan diet. As a matter of caution, you would also have to check out the elements in your food habits that have the greatest probability of inducing a digestive inconvenience.
The reasons for gas and bloating in a vegan diet may stem from:
- Increased Fiber Intake
- A Rise In Fodmap Intake
- Swallowing Air While Chewing
- Characteristically Slow Digestion
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Gluten Intolerance/ Celiac Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease Or Other Bowel Syndrome
How Long Does Bloating Last When Going Vegan?
Bloating is a common phenomenon. It may happen due to gas or fluid accumulation in your digestion mechanism but remember it is a bodily function and need not demand excessive worry. If you are moving into a vegan dietary practice, keep in mind that you may find little signs of bloating every now and then on a vegan diet particularly rich in fiber or large in overall volume.
Since veggies are relatively less dense in calories, increasing their amount on the plate would upscale both fiber content and the volume. Additionally, fiber-rich diets also trigger gas production in the GI tract so a bit of temporary puffiness is inevitable. It may last for a few hours to a maximum of five days. Constant consumption of high-fiber foods may cause longer durations of bloating and gas unless your gut flora adjusts to it.
To shred down the bloat, consider implementing the tips that we would be sharing with you- ahead in the article. However, as a note of CAUTION- if the discomfort persists over days and weeks, go consult your doctor as soon as viable- we can’t risk overlooking an underlying disorder in the guise of bloating from a vegan diet.
Tips to Reduce Gas and Bloating on a Plant-based Diet
1. Drink Ample Water
You are consuming more fiber- the element that is responsible for regulating good bowel movement and holding moisture to your gastrointestinal walls. But what if there is no moisture in your body for fibers to soak up? Without the supply of sufficient water, not only the digestion of fiber but also the processing of it in the intestines shall be hindered causing constipation.
The elimination of stool could also get plugged, impacting the movement of gas. Besides the digestive inconvenience, it may cause acute stomach pain and stress. Not to hesitate but the gas that may escape the GI tract through the plug may have a disgusting smell. In order to ensure that the food is well moist and gets eliminated- Drink ample water at least 2.5 liters a day!
2. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed food is never the best one for your nutritional needs nor for your gut health! One of the greatest benefits of choosing a vegan diet is the enhanced possibility to eat real, home-made, and simple food. Processed foods mostly are high in sodium and other ingredients that may irritate your evolving gut flora for a vegan diet.
Whole foods can nourish you better and help you overturn or replace almost any kind of counter-available savory or sweet dish with an interesting alternative. Say, for instance, prepare a vegan veggie burger at home with a complete protein source (most vegans protein sources are incomplete in terms of their amino acid profile. It is therefore advisable for plant based individuals to supplement with vegan BCAA’s) replace packaged soups or juices with berry and banana smoothie, and more.
3. Plan Appropriate Portion Sizes
It is by nature that there is no one-size-fits-all when we talk about nutrition. You might be sensitive to certain food types while others might have just spent years eating the same. When one of my closest friends was relatively new to cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and cabbage, she constantly experienced digestive upsetness.
That’s not just her, many have sensitivities to garlic, onion, and beans because the carbs in these food types are fermented in the gut for digestion. It may cause inconvenience to you. Therefore, try to incorporate a variety of dishes in subtle portions in each of your meals instead of filling your plate with one food type.
Cook the beans and legumes well and start with smaller servings. Introducing small legumes such as red split lentils or split peas, gradually build up your pace to larger beans. Similarly, you can get started with herbs, namely oregano, thyme, and rosemary before getting into garlic and onions.
4. Don’t Swallow Air While Eating / Eat Calmly
The plant cell wall-cellulose and the starch content of the plant-based food items can take more digestive action for getting assimilated. If you do not chew your food mindfully and properly grind the food into a paste of smaller food pieces, the digestive enzymes and acids get a larger area over the food surface to attach to and act.
Chewing is also a digestive mechanism that you have relatively greater control over. Swallowing food mindlessly or gulping them barely chewed can interfere with efficient digestion. If you talk while eating or chew hastily with your mouth open, there are chances that you may swallow air in the process that would later get blocked in your GI tract causing bloating and acidity.
Fizzy drinks or carbonated ones can also increase the gas content in your stomach. Moreover, drinking with a straw can increase the possibility of swallowing more air along with the food. Beware of these activities and you would notice a considerable alleviation in bloating and gas issues.
5. Don’t concentrate fiber intake in a single meal
Adding a lot of high fiber foods to your plate over a single meal might not be surprising if you are on a vegan diet. But this does exert pressure on your gut to break them all down. Instead of taking in all the beans and hard vegetables in one go, divide it over 3 or even 4 meals of the day.
Start with small portions and include a variety in your meals to balance out the fiber concentration. With about a quarter of a cup of beans or legumes, add low-fiber vegan food such as tofu, hemp seeds, etc. this gives you a lot of control on the mix-match and experiment you can do with a vegan diet.
6. Supplement with a Vegan Probiotic Supplement
As you get started with more plant-based foods, your gut flora experiences a number of beneficial changes. Yet your body also needs to eliminate old wastes or habits from animal products. It can cause a fluctuation in your diet experiences as you begin. If the aforementioned tips can not completely relieve your digestive troubles, you may adopt a daily probiotic supplement with acidophilus and Bifidus strains of bacteria that can counter gas and bloating imbalances.
Ensure that the product is free of dairy because most commercial probiotics culture the bacteria on dairy or related substances. Alternatively, you can eat vegan foods, sourced from plants, that have the benefits of probiotics. Remember to consume probiotic supplements before you begin with the first meal of the day. If you are purchasing digestive enzymes you can explore the market or your health provider for advanced enzymes or multi-spectrum enzymes.
Bloating is natural. This should not alter the wave of change in you that is encouraging a revolution in your dietary habits of embracing the vegan way. Selecting a cruelty-free diet gives you multiple nutritional benefits. What acts as a villain in the process is one’s lack of knowledge on the smartest approach to veganism.
We hope we were able to fill the gap in information and provided you with valuable insights in alleviating gas and bloating caused by a vegan diet. Follow the steps and observe the improvements. If the aforementioned tips fail to relieve your abdominal discomfort, we strongly advise you to consult your health advisor.