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Digestive Problems Despite Eating Healthy? Veggies May Be To Blame.



It's easy to assume that because you are eating the “right” portions of meats and veggies, you should be feeling your best. But you aren’t.


If anything, you notice more digestive distress...constipation, diarrhea, even acid reflux...why?


For starters, let’s talk about insoluble foods. Vegetables (and some fruits) tend to be high in insoluble fiber. This means that fiber does not easily dissolve since it cannot be broken down with water. The problem with this is that the intestinal tract can’t break it down either, causing bits and pieces to go undigested. Therefore, when you consume high amounts of insoluble fiber and your gut is already in distress, eating those crazy big salads is like adding more fuel to the fire.


So which vegetables are considered high in insoluble fiber:

  • Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, collards, arugula, and watercress to name a few)

  • Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods

  • Green beans

  • Kernel corn

  • Bell peppers

  • Eggplant

  • Celery

  • Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic

  • Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

Vegetables that are higher in soluble fiber (hence easier on the digestive tract) include:


Carrots

  • Winter squash

  • Summer squash (better if peeled)

  • Starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes)

  • Turnips

  • Parsnips

  • Beets

  • Plantains

  • Taro

  • Yuca


The biggest concern of many is that eliminating insoluble veggies will cause nutrient deficiencies. However, if you keep adding stress to the digestive tract by consuming foods that cause more problems, then long run, you can STILL become nutrient deficient if your gut becomes more damaged.


The best way to know which veggies (or fruits) are causing you distress is to keep a food diary. Note how you feel after eating a certain veggie (or fruit) and either eliminate it for a few weeks or consume it differently.


Five tips to help make insoluble veggies (or fruits) more gut-friendly include:

  1. Combine insoluble foods with soluble.

  2. Remove the stems and peels (especially from foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, and winter greens).

  3. Dice, mash, chop, grate, or high blend foods to make them easier to digest. The less your digestive tract has to work on breaking down these foods, the better.

  4. It is preferable to consume insoluble foods steamed or boiled (you can even turn into soups).

  5. Consider fermenting veggies (you can find many fermenting recipes on the Internet). Thanks to the probiotic microorganisms that form in the fermentation process, the veggies can be easier to digest and actually help heal your gut.


An alternative approach to help find some relief for the gut can be to eliminate veggies (and/or fruits) for a few days or even weeks to give your digestive tract a break...in other words, follow a carnivore diet.


Want to learn more? Make sure to check out my blog post on my experience with the carnivore diet.


Resources:


https://www.healthline.com/health/soluble-vs-insoluble-fiber


https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fermented-foods-for-better-gut-health-2018051613841