How to Prevent Bloating on a Vegan Diet
Avoid our mistakes by using these simple tips.
I hope you had a great Christmas. Our gym was closed the last two days, and I was so thankful to go yesterday after feeling sluggish from the Christmas meals. That reminded me…
When we started eating a Vegan Whole Food Diet we experienced a lot of bloating and embarrassing gas for the first month…which we now know could have been significantly reduced.
Shifting from animal sources of protein to plant sources, requires a shift in gut bacteria—but how can you increase the “good” bacteria in your gut?
Also, some of the beans and lentils are easier to digest than others in the beginning…but with so many varieties available, which ones should you start with?
> > Scroll down to watch the video.
Let me know which beans and lentils you find easier or worse to digest in the Comments below.
George & Sarah x
Vegan Personal Trainer & Nutritional Consultant
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We answer the questions we get asked all the time
The dynamic stretching warm up we do before our Calisthenics or gym workout.
Hi, I’m George. And I’m Sarah.
Today we’re going to talk about gut health and easing into a Vegan Whole Food Diet.
So the first thing to talk about is fibre. So fibre is really important…and in general for every gram of fibre in your diet, the risk of diseases goes down–you’ll be able to find studies proving that. Increased fibre can reduce your risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
So fibre is a great thing. The average recommended fibre intake in both the UK and the US is a minimum of 30g of fibre a day. And unfortunately, the average population is getting something like 15g of fibre in the US, and 18g in the UK. So way below the recommended intakes. So people are always worried about being “protein deficient…but actually, everybody is fibre deficient, and that causes a host of problems. Unless you make a concerted effort. Exactly.
So, one thing about starting to eat a Vegan Whole Food Diet, is that you’ll hit that 30g in one meal if you eat correctly—whole foods, lots of plants. In one meal you’ve already hit your daily allowance. Whereas before, you were only getting 15g.
So in 3 meals, you could have 90-100g of fibre a day. So you’ll have a massive increase…and with that comes a massive increase in nutrients as well. So it’s really beneficial in healing the body.
But specifically on the protein—your source of protein when you’re swapping from meat, eggs and dairy. Did I say “deggs”? [laughs] Eggs. You’re going to be switching to beans and lentils. Now beans and lentils are not quite so easy to digest, so I shall hand over to Sarah.
Ok, so when we initially went Vegan, we didn’t do much research on what was easier to digest, and what wasn’t—we just switched to anything that looked interesting. We had quite a severe problem, in that we had bad intestinal pain, and some really bad smelly farts…like all the time for about a month. [laughs] It wasn’t ideal. It was like unbelievable, like “oh my god.” It was like something had died. [laughs] Is this what being “Vegan” is?…forever we’re going to smell really awful. [laughs]
Fortunately, it was for about a month. And it’s gone now. But we didn’t know which ones to eat—we just ate anything that looked interesting.
We’ve since done a bit of research as to what the easiest things to digest are. Bodies adapt to different food. So some things that we say “oh, you can eat that,” you might have a problem with.
The generally recognised ones are lentils. Lentils are fantastic anyway. But lentils are theoretically a little bit easier to digest. So lentils are a good place to start. And what kind of lentils do you have? I love red lentils—they’re fantastic in stews and they kind of dissolve down into a mush. And they cook quite quickly. You don’t have to soak them, which is really helpful.
The green lentils, I don’t use quite as much. You can get brown ones and various other ones. These are just the ones that Tesco sold. So they’re the one I bought. They’re pretty versatile. Again, with the green lentils, they don’t take long to cook. So if you cooking them for about an hour in a stew, they’re easy enough. You want to wash them. But you don’t have to soak them—we don’t soak them, they’re fine.
Tofu. I’ll talk about soy a bit more in a minute. Tofu is a soy sauce…it’s not soy sauce. [laughs] It’s a source of soy. [laughs] From Soy. Generally, we haven’t had a problem digesting that because it’s fermented, so we don’t have a problem with that. So that’s quite an easy one, so again it’s very easy to chop up and use.
It’s a very easy substitute for meat—you just chop it up, really fast, it goes easy in a stir fry. You have to be a bit gentle with tofu because it does tend to disintegrate if you’re overly aggressive with it.
Bean wise, canned is generally easier to digest than cooking yourself. It’s obviously great to cook beans yourself, as dry is generally cheaper. But it’s quite a rigmarole and we haven’t really got it down yet. We found that certain beans, from dry, despite multiple attempts at cooking them, still end up hard and horrible.
Some things like chickpeas I’ve been getting on all right with more recently. But the easiest thing is cans. Theoretically, you don’t want them in salted water—it depends on how sensitive you are towards salt and blood pressure.
The ones that I read about that are theoretically the easiest are generally the smallest actually. They’re Adzuki beans and Black Eyed Beans.
The other one is Mung beans…again, they’re quite small. I haven’t managed to find those in a can. Again you can buy those dried. And I’ve had quite a lot of success with cooking those—because they’re quite small and absorb the water quite quickly. They’re not too difficult to do.
So if you just stick with those ones initially…that’s theoretically as good advice as we can give you because obviously we can’t go back and go Vegan again. So we can’t try it from the beginning. But if you do it…post your results underneath, because obviously, it would be great for us to know how you did on those. That’s about it on beans.
I was going to say one more thing…if you can find a BPA free can, then that’s a better choice. We haven’t looked. We haven’t really seen that many options. But if you do find one then go for that. I’m sure it costs more money.
Dr Greger on nutritionfacts.org he quite often uses canned beans. Don’t’ worry about the fact that they’re canned and not raw…it’s better than meat, it’s really fast. Because why spend nearly 4 hours trying to do your beans and soaking them overnight, when you can just pull open a can—it’s so cheap.
Yeah, the cheapest ones I’ve found are generally chickpeas in cans—again later, if you have a problem with them. But we buy them on special offer for 3 for £1, or 4 for £1, so it’s really cheap. It’s cheaper than probably buying them dried. And we eat those a lot, don’t we? Yeah. They’re great in salads. Yeah, and they’re all pre-cooked.
So going onto gut health. I’ve got some stuff down here, that’s why I’m bending down. So another thing you can do is to eat some probiotic food. Well, you’ve got to explain what the problem is…why can’t you digest beans and lentils?
Well unless you’ve been eating a lot already…which some people have, obviously. Particularly if you’re vegetarian or something. Your gut bacteria—which are your millions of gut bacteria, which you want…lots of gut bacteria because they help digest your food. They are adapted to what you are eating now. And if it’s meat, they’re adapted to eating meat. And if you’re eating a lot of sugar, which a lot of people are—they are adapted to eating that.
So you put something else in…you’ll have a few bacteria that are good at digesting beans, but most of them are set up for digesting meat and sugar, or carbs, or whatever you’re having at the moment. So you give them something that they can’t actually digest.
So your body goes “orrrrgh, I don’t know what to do with that” and farts and ferments, and everything. So we went straight in. One way you can do it is to ease in—which will help grow the right bacteria for you, over time.
I think it’s better just to jump in. Just go for it. We’d rather you do it immediately because it’s better for your health. Our gut bacteria had to adapt…it took about a month and a half for us.
The alternative is giving them some help. Yeah. But if you stick to the specific beans and lentils we showed you, then you will adjust easier.
So things you can eat every day to try and help improve your gut bacteria are sauerkraut—that’s fermented cabbage. So you have to get unpasteurised sauerkraut. You can make it yourself, it actually doesn’t take that long, it only takes about 20 minutes. We’ll do a video on it at some point.
It’s a bit of a pain to make the stuff, but it doesn’t require very much—just cabbage and salt. There’s not even any water. Sorry no water, it makes its own water. Just cabbage and salt, and you’re done. And some jars. But anyway, sauerkraut, I love that stuff.
You can also have kimchee, which is Korean. It’s very hot! Very spicy! [laughs] If you like it, it’s fine.
And you can also use Miso—so this is Miso Paste. You can get brown rice miso, you can get soy miso. And again, it has to be alive. So it will say you have to refrigerate it. And check that it’s not pasteurised. Pasteurising just kills it—it kills the bugs.
In the average supermarket…in Tesco, if you go to the Polish section or the international section, they quite often have sauerkraut, but it’s sitting on the shelf. Therefore it’s dead. So, although it might taste nice, it is completely useless to you. I don’t know why people even buy it. People probably don’t know…they think “oh, yay, sauerkraut.” So, health food shops—not always, but some will sell it. It’ll be in the fridge. Or, we tend to buy it from Ocado online, because we’ve found they’re one of the only places that sell it.
The other great thing about Miso is that while excessive salt consumption can raise your blood pressure, Miso seems to be net neutral, even though it’s salty. So if you do have a blood pressure problem, you can swap it for Miso.
One thing about Miso is that you don’t really want to cook with it—you want it not to get heated that much, because you want to keep the bacteria. We tend to put it in afterwards, [which] is the best thing. Right at the end of cooking, just stir it in.
One more thing you can have…they’re plenty of plant yoghurts which have got live cultures in. This one says “with soy yoghurt cultures.” There’s coconut as well. Yeah, there’s coconut, you can get an almond one.
We’ve looked into it and the coconut one’s quite high fat…so if you’re eating a lot of it then that might be an issue, because obviously, it’s saturated fat in the coconut. You might have to look up some specialist places. The soy and coconut ones you can generally get in supermarkets, but other ones you might have to look further afield for.
You’ve got to experiment with yourself because your body has got sensitivities to different things. Some people might have a problem with a particular bean. So if you eat them and you find you’re having loads of problems then stop eating them for a bit…and document it.
That’s one thing that we advocate quite a lot—if you have symptoms of something, track it. If you have something like me…if you’re getting a lot of period pains, or your arthritis comes back, or something…then you think okay, what have I been doing in the last week, or weeks that might have made a difference.
If you haven’t tracked anything, then you have no idea. You might end up with chronic problems and wonder why is this Vegan diet not working for me? Well, actually it’s just like one thing that you’re eating that your body is sensitive too and you aren’t aware of.
By tracking your symptoms weekly, then you can think okay, that wasn’t great. I was doing okay and it’s got worse, “what have I done more of?” Because I obviously want to control my symptoms too.
We came into this because we had issues. You know. So we are doing this alongside you. We are experimenting on ourselves. So the main thing is…eat beans…eat plants, and experiment to see what works for you.
Okay. Thanks for watching.
George & Sarah Choy
Vegan Personal Trainer & Nutritional Consultant