5 Common Digestive Issues for Vegetarians

If you’re new to a vegetarian diet, you may be having some issues with digestion. Gas, bloating, and constipation can be brought on by soy foods, too much fiber (or not enough of the right fiber), too much dairy, and too many beans.

Digestive Issue No. 1: Hard-to-Digest Soy Foods

Many vegetarians rely on soy, especially Tofu, for their protein. Unfortunately, with the exception of fermented soy products like Tempeh, soy is hard to digest. Soy, including Tofu, contains inhibitors that block digestive enzymes your body needs to break protein down.

No. 2: Too Much Fiber

We always hear how important it is to get enough fiber, which is true, but too much fiber can also be a problem. Too much fiber, especially when our bodies are not accustomed to it, can cause gas, bloating and cramps.

Digestive Issue No. 3: Not Enough of the Right Type of Fiber

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water and is found in fruit. Insoluble fiber does not absorb water and is the type that’s found in vegetables and whole grains.

So, if you’re experiencing constipation, add more insoluble fiber as it moves through your tract quicker.

No. 4: Too Much Dairy

Sometimes when we eliminate one food – like meat – we compensate by adding more of other foods, like cheese. Dairy products contain a protein called casein that can not be broken down and digested by the human body.

Digestive Issue No. 5: Too Many Beans

If you’re not accustomed to eating beans, and you suddenly start eating them frequently, there will be some problems. There’s a compound in beans called oligosaccharides that your body can not digest or absorb. As a result, the beans are broken down by bacteria, which produces the uncomfortable bloating and gas.

Beans are also fiber rich. So, if you’re body is not accustomed to a lot of fiber this adds to the bloating and gas issue.

Work beans into your diet slowly, and make sure you prepare them properly.

The most important thing you can do when transitioning to a healthy vegetarian diet is to take it slow. Be mindful of what you’re adding, and how quickly you’re adding these new foods to your diet. When you do, you’ll minimize the discomforts and reap all the great benefits that come along with going vegetarian.

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