Written by Chelsea DeColle, CNP
How many times has this happened to you – after enjoying a delicious plant filled meal, you end up feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and gassy by the end of the night?! We’ve ALL been there more than once in our lifetime. Experiencing digestive upset from certain plant-based foods is very common but it doesn’t have to be something you “just live with”. Vegetables in the cruciferous family (think broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts), grains, as well as beans and legumes, can be harder to digest and cause some of these unwanted tummy troubles.
Plant-based foods like vegetables, grains and legumes contain antinutrients which are compounds like lectins, tannins, enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that play a protective role for the plant but can cause havoc on a human’s digestive system.1Thanks to the ancient methods of fermenting and sprouting, these antinutrient compounds can be reduced, minimizing digestive concerns when consuming these foods, and giving the added benefit of helping to increase the nutrient value found in those foods.2,3
So, how can you help to make or keep your gut happy? Try some of these practical tips:
WHAT TO EAT
- Eat more fermented foods like tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir
- Eat more sprouted foods like grains, seeds, and legumes
- More fibre! Getting adequate soluble and insoluble fibre helps to keep your guts happy by providing fuel for the healthy bacteria in your gut and by keeping things moving through your digestive system, keeping you regular4
- Consider a sprouted and fermented protein powder to reduce the chances of digestive upset
HOW TO EAT IT
- Balance what’s on your plate so you’re not eating too many gas producing foods in a meal
- Rinse your beans/legumes well before using and lightly cook harder to digest vegetables to make them easier to digest while also activating natural plant enzymes!
- Practice mindfulness when eating – avoid distractions, chew your food well and eat slowly which allows your body to recognize you are eating and releases important digestive enzymes to aid in the digestive process
- Reduce stress – Feelings of stress and anxiety can impact your digestion and gut function as our stress response stops digestion during the flight or fight response
- Consider a digestive enzyme with meals if you struggle with specific food types and try ginger, fennel, or licorice root to help soothe digestive upset
- War, A. R., Paulraj, M. G., Ahmad, T., Buhroo, A. A., Hussain, B., Ignacimuthu, S., & Sharma, H. C. (2012). Mechanisms of plant defense against insect herbivores. Plant signaling & behavior, 7(10), 1306–1320. https://doi.org/10.4161/psb.21663
- Nkhata, S. G., Ayua, E., Kamau, E. H., & Shingiro, J. B. (2018). Fermentation and germination improve nutritional value of cereals and legumes through activation of endogenous enzymes. Food science & nutrition, 6(8), 2446–2458. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.846
- Cleveland Clinic. What you should know about beans. Accessed Feb 23, 2022 at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-musical-fruit-what-you-should-know-about-beans-and-gas/
- Davani-Davari, D, et al. (2019). Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 8(3), 92.