A high-fiber diet comes with many benefits. Fiber helps lower LDL cholesterol levels, increases weight loss, and prevents constipation. Fiber also helps digestion other foods and keeps blood sugar at normal levels. However, all fiber from any source, can cause bloating. Because different bacteria digest fiber variations in different ways, gas levels can vary depending on the type of fiber. Every human body reacts differently to fiber, so you must be patient and try different fiber sources to find which one is most beneficial to you without causing excessive bloating and gas.
It is important to know what types of fiber there are and which foods contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a kind of gel, which can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also slow down digestion and therefore cause more bloating. They are found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. To better absorb soluble fiber, you need to drink more water. This is also true if you take fiber supplements. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. They promote intestinal movement and thus, digestion. Consequently, they cause less bloating than soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in foods like whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, green beans, and potatoes.
Regarding dietary fiber intake, it should be noted that you eat foods with insoluble and soluble fiber in equal measure. This will keep you healthy and ensure you’re getting enough fiber. However, consider replacing some foods with soluble fiber with insoluble ones to reduce bloating. For example, oat bran contains almost exclusively soluble fiber, while wheat bran contains mostly insoluble fiber. Regular consumption of wheat bran cereal or wheat bran muffins will reduce the likelihood of bloating.
Beans are known to cause bloating, but dry beans are less likely to cause post-meal bloating. Soaking dry beans in water overnight will reduce the typical effects of beans on the digestive system.
These foods are excellent sources of fiber but can also cause bloating and gas. Limit these foods to once a month if possible, or substitute other vegetables that cause less gas. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, collards, and lettuce contain mostly insoluble fiber, making them a good source of nutrients cause less bloating. Avoid raw vegetables as they are difficult for the body to digest, leading to bloating—steam or boil vegetables before eating.
The bacteria in your stomach and small intestine need time to get used to fiber intake. Eating too much fiber in too short a time causes gas, bloating, cramps and diarrhea. Increase fiber intake by 5g per day for 1-2 weeks to allow your body to adapt. When you start eating fiber, gas and bloating are more likely. However, over time, your body will get used to the fiber and you will find that gas and bloating are reduced. Remember that you also need to drink more as you eat more fiber. Increase your water intake whenever you add fiber to your diet to avoid constipation.
The recommended daily allowance of fiber should not exceed 35g for older children, adolescents and adults. Younger children cannot consume enough calories daily to get this amount of dietary fiber. However, you should include whole grains, fresh fruits, and green leafy vegetables in your child’s meals so that they can develop a fiber tolerance gradually.
Water promotes the removal of fiber in the digestive system. Drinking enough fluids also prevents fiber from hardening and blocking your intestines. Dehydration and a buildup of fiber in your body can lead to awkward moments on the toilet. If you drink coffee throughout the day, you should drink enough water. Caffeine is dehydrating and draws water from your body, making you urinate more. This can lead to dehydration. For every cup of caffeinated beverage you should drink two glasses of decaffeinated liquid. Too much caffeine in the body, coupled with a high-fiber diet, leads to constipation and bloating.
Beano® is an over-the-counter supplement containing natural enzymes that helps prevent bloating and gas caused by fiber. Beano® reduces the gases produced by fiber and thus reduces gas and bloating. According to several studies, Beano® is an effective way to relieve bloating and gas after high-fiber meals.
Taking fiber supplements like Metamucil and Konsyl daily can be an effective way to get fiber healthily. However, the best way to get fiber is still through food. Before taking any fiber supplements, you should talk to your doctor, especially if you’re taking other medications that could cause an interaction. Start with a small amount so your body can get used to the fiber supplement and you don’t feel bloated or gassy. Continue to drink plenty of fluids every day. Fiber supplements can decrease the body’s ability to absorb drugs like aspirin, warfarin (Coudamin), and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol). Such supplements can further lower blood sugar levels. As such, your doctor will likely need to adjust your intake of medications such as insulin for diabetes if you wish to take fiber supplements.
Bouts of heavy bloating, belching, and gas often resolve on their own or subside as your body adjusts to fiber intake. However, if the symptoms don’t go away, or you experience severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, or suddenly lose weight or chest pain, you should talk to your doctor. These symptoms can be signs of an existing disease or bowel problem.
A high-fiber diet comes with many benefits. Fiber helps digest other foods and keeps blood sugar at normal levels. However, all fiber from any source can cause bloating. So you must be patient and try different fiber sources to find which one is most beneficial to you without causing excessive bloating and gas.