Why Your Belly's Not Better
Better Nutrition|September 2019

Six sneaky things that may be upsetting your gut

Lisa Turner

You’re avoiding gluten, minimizing carbs, and taking your supplements— and you’re still experiencing indigestion, bloating, stomach upset, or constipation. It may be that common daily habits are harming your gut. Check out these six surprising gut-killers, and make your belly better right now.

1 YOUR SUPER-HEALTHY DIET. Beans, lentils, cashews, beets, cauliflower, apples, blackberries,, and certain other plant foods are nutrient-dense and loaded with fiber—but if you’re sensitive, they can wreak havoc on your digestive system. These and other good-for-you foods are high in FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols)—carbohydrates that aren’t fully digested and can be fermented by gut bacteria, causing pain, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea in some people. Even if you’re not sensitive to FODMAPs, an increase in high-fiber foods can overload your digestive system and cause distress. And some studies show that decreasing fiber may improve constipation in people following a high-fiber diet. For some, even prebiotic fibers such as inulin and FOS, designed to “feed” intestinal bacteria, can cause gas, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

GUT-HEALTH GUIDELINES: We’re not saying you should stop eating beans, fruits, and vegetables; but if you’re new to a high-fiber diet, start slow. Add fiber-rich foods gradually and drink plenty of water. To make beans easier to digest, soak them overnightto remove oligosaccharides, then drain the soaking water before cooking. And if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other chronic gut issues, consider a low- FODMAP diet; studies show it can improve symptoms. Check out Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach: The Fast and Easy Low-FODMAP Diet Plan by Danielle Capalino, MSPH, RD, for more information.

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