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Can Vegetables Cause Digestive Issues?

This post was posted on:
24 January, 2021

We all know how important it is to eat our five-a-day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only do vegetables give us vast amounts of vitamins and nutrients, but they are a key component for a balanced diet, and low in fats and calories. Did you know though that eating vegetables in abundance may cause digestive issues? For those with sensitive bowels or with intolerances, eating more than your recommended daily amount may lead to bloating, constipation, and even bowel irritation.

We need to be mindful of what happens inside our bodies, how we are affected by certain foods, and what we can do to make sure our guts are healthy and happy.

Vegetable Bloating

If vegetables are low in fat and high in vitamins, why is it that they may cause digestive issues like bloating or constipation? While for some it may be due to an underlying intolerance, for most issues are mainly caused by the high levels of fibre that vegetables contain, a nightmare for those with sensitivities. Eating too much fibre can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Excess gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Acid reflux

Soluble fibre is absorbed by bacteria, helping to maintain a balanced microbiome. Insoluble fibre cannot be absorbed by the body and can often cause constipation by adding bulk to the stool. Vegetables high in insoluble fiber include courgettes, broccoli, celery, leafy greens and root vegetables – these should be consumed in moderation.

Certain vegetables are also known as FODMAP foods. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols; foods high in FODMAP may be harder for your body to digest and absorb.

But which lead to vegetable bloating? Broccoli, onions, garlic, sprouts, and cauliflower are all high FODMAP foods and should be avoided by those that suffer frequently from poor gut health.

Vegetables That May Not Cause Gas

Low-FODMAP vegetables (and so may not cause gas) include the following:

  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Corn (Baby, Canned)
  • Cucumber
  • Ginger Root
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes (White)
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach

Why Does My Stomach Hurt After Eating Vegetables

Sufferer of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? It may be advisable to stay away from high-FODMAP foods and instead try for a low-FODMAP diet for relief from symptoms. Instead of eating meals high in vegetables, limit portions and swap particularly fibrous vegetables for those that are less irritating to your stomach.

How To Avoid Digestive Issues Caused By Vegetables

Don’t eat foods you are intolerant to

Do you have a chickpea intolerance, an onion intolerance, a celery intolerance, intolerance to peppers, intolerance to garlic, or any other kind of vegetable intolerance? If you don’t know but suspect you might, we encourage you to take a food intolerance test to find out.

Food Allergy and Intolerance Testing are two totally different things. A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. A food allergy test can identify a range of food allergy symptoms and in some cases, an allergic food reaction can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.

The yorktest food intolerance test provides expert analysis of your unique IgG reactions to 208 food and drink ingredients. Working alongside trained Nutritional Therapists, yorktest have developed comprehensive programmes with individually tailored nutritional advice and support to help people balance their diets, optimising their health and wellbeing.

Pair soluble fibre with insoluble fibre

Never eat insoluble fiber foods on an empty stomach. Always eat them with other foods that contain soluble fiber to limit irritation.

Get rid of roughage

Remove any stems or peels, skins or leaves from vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber.

Cook well

If you can’t imagine having to give up broccoli, onion, or garlic, ensuring they’re well-cooked might provide your answer. Dicing, stewing, or any other form of cooking helps the tough nature of the fibre to be softened a little, making it more gentle on your gastrointestinal system as it’s already partly broken down for you. Roast, mash, steam, boil or sauté away!

Eat seasonally

Back in the days of cavemen, we would eat seasonally what was available. Studies show that eating in this way can be better for our stomachs and be more nutritious.

Eat fermented

Fermented vegetables are easier to absorb, and contain probiotics which are great for your gut.

Nina Torina - Lifestyle Medicine

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