Happy Herbivore Blog

January 20, 2012

Flatulence

I get a lot of emails and questions about flatulence, or gas, when switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet. It is normal and doesn't last forever.

Anytime you make a change to your diet, your body needs time to adjust. This can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Since everyone is different, there is no set time that it takes to adjust to a new diet.

When people make a change towards a plant based diet, they usually are eating more fiber and carbohydrates than before. It is this extra fiber  and carbohydrates that are producing more gas than normal.

Long process short, whatever food your body is not able to digest or absorb before it reaches the large intestine will produce gas as it is broken down in the large intestine. Your body will adjust to the change in diet, and you should be able to digest more foods before they reach the large intestine causing less gas, but it doesn't happen overnight.

There are also some foods, in general that will produce gas no matter how long you've eaten them. Beans are like this, as well as some vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, onions, ect. 

There are degrees to the gassiness of beans, for example black-eyed peas, black beans, chickpeas don't produce as much gas as lentils, split peas or navy beans

You can reduce the amount of gas produced from beans by soaking, cooking a long time, and chewing them well.

Also, a note about canned beans. These tend to be gassier than their fresh counterparts because they are cooked differently. In order to lessen the amount of gas produced, you should drain and rinse canned beans well.

There are some 'tricks' you can do to reduce your flatulence; drink more water, chew on a piece of ginger or have some peppermint. I'm not saying these will work, but I hear they are successful for others.

You could try over the counter solutions as well, but make sure they are plant-based, like Bean-zyme.

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