“Eat more fiber” is another way of saying “adopt a healthy diet.” Fiber consumption is central to a number of health benefits including heart health, better digestion, and a diverse microbiota.
But you might notice it makes you bloated. This is not fun and is the reason many people don’t want to eat more fiber. Basically, the bloating is worse in real-time that the future impacts of heart disease.
A new study, however, may offer some insight on how to get around the bloating and discomfort of adopting a high fiber diet.
Researchers looked at data from a clinical trial involving 164 participants on a heart-healthy high fiber diet. When the participants were on a protein-rich diet, they were 40% more likely bloating than those on a carb-rich diet.
To be clear, the protein-rich diet was rich in plant sources of protein like beans, legumes, and nuts.
High-fiber diets may cause bloating because they cause certain healthy gut bacteria to produce gas. One theory is that upon consumption, these bacteria bloat and give off gas a byproduct. The presence of carbohydrate or proteins seems to influence how they react.
If you’re trying to adopt a more heart-healthy diet by adding more fiber to your day, one way to limit bloating may be to focus on carbohydrate-rich sources of fiber. These items would include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Another way to ease into such a diet or avoid bloating once you’ve been at it for a while is to stick to smaller serving sizes of nuts, legumes, and beans. Consuming a high-number of bean-based dishes may be too much for your stomach, especially right off the bat as your microbiome is shifting.
There are also ways to make beans and legumes easier to digest. Soaking and cooking them is one way. Breaking down the protective layer around beans that can lead to digestive troubles make them easier on the stomach and may reduce the likelihood of bloating or other digestive issues.
It’s important to remember that bloating may only be a short-term implication of boosting fiber intake. The long-term pay off, however, is well worth it.