Does soy milk make you poop

Constipation Milk Soy

By Dr. Jeeno Jayan, MBBS

Constipation milk soy
Soy Milk may cause constipation.

Based on a randomized controlled study of the New England Journal of Medicine, there is a correlation between soy milk consumption and constipation. It was concluded that soy formula can make stools firmer.

The exception to this was children who are allergic to milk protein. For most of them, their constipation episodes were cleared up when they switched to soy formula.

However, it is very common to individuals with allergies in soy formula to experience discomfort and constipation.

How Soy Milk causes constipation

First, lets ask ourselves why cow milk may cause constipation.

It is because it contains proteins that are difficult for our bodies to digest. This increases the amount of time the body retains it in the colon, resulting in more water being extracted. This can result in constipation.
Soy milk also contains proteins that are difficult to digest. When soy milk is mixed with other food items, it can cause the whole mixture to move more slowly through the colon, as the body tried to digest the proteins.

It is the colon’s natural function to take a mush of food the consistency of a milk shake and extract water to form more of a solid. As long as stool feces stays in the colon, the colon will continue its job of trying to extract moisture. That is why longer transit times can mean constipation.

Is soy milk a healthy alternative

It has been widely marketed that soy products are considered to be a healthy alternative to milk and even meats. Soy has been a part of a typical person’s diet in Asia and serves as a replacement for dairy milk in the USA. However, the consumption of soy products may not be as healthy as one might think.

  1. Soy beans have several ingredients or substances that create a negative impact on a person’s health. For example, it can be an allergen to trigger allergies, and carries a risk of constipation.
  2. Soy consumption affects a person’s hormone levels; that is why, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recommends taking soy in moderation.
  3. Soy products can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and constipation.
  4. Most importantly, soybeans grown in America are for the most part genetically modified. This means that it may have added health risks when consumed in large amounts.

The solution: take a magnesium supplement

We know that soy milk (and regular milk) slow down stool transit time. Magnesium is a way to help keep stool from drying out while spending longer in the colon.

Magnesium functions as an osmotic laxative, in that it draws water into the colon. This action can help stop stool from drying out. By keeping stool moist, stool remains soft and slippery, making for easy evacuation.
Taking a magnesium supplement each evening may help to ensure a regular and easy bowel movement shortly away after waking up.

For the 80% of Americans who don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, the extra magnesium may also result in other health benefits.

Constipation Milk Soy – The Conclusion

Soy milk may help cause constipation.

It contains hard to digest proteins that mean longer transit times. Magnesium may help to reverse this problem.

(Return from Constipation Milk Soy to Causes of Constipation)

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Soy Formula & Constipation in Infants

Soy formula contains protein derived from soybeans. The link between soy formula and constipation is a much debated topic among parents and even pediatricians, according to Melvin Heyman, M.D., professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric gastroenterology at University of California, San Francisco. That’s because soy formula seems to help constipation in some babies and bring on constipation in others. There are several reasons why soy formula may help get things moving – or not.

Constipation in Infants

Constipation in infants refers to lack of a bowel movement. The signs of constipation in infants include: three or more days without a stool, pain or crying during a BM, and inability to pass a stool after straining longer than 10 minutes, according to HealthyChildren.org, the official website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.include:

  • The signs of constipation in infants include: three or more days without a stool
  • pain or crying during a BM,
  • inability to pass a stool after straining longer than 10 minutes
  • according to HealthyChildren.org
  • the official website of the American Academy of Pediatrics

The exception is breast-fed infants older than 1-month-old. Inadequate intake of breast milk often imitates constipation in these babies. Keep in mind that grunting or straining while pushing out a stool is normal in young infants, according to DrPaul.com. It’s also common for non-constipated infants to become red in the face during straining. However, formula-fed babies who don’t have a BM after five days are probably constipated, according to Heyman.

Soy Formula Benefits

Heyman says that constipation in infants can sometimes be formula-related, so switching to a soy formula may help some babies. HealthyChildren.org indicates that because soy formulas contain soy protein and carbohydrates that are different from milk-based formulas, they are sometimes recommended for babies unable to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk-based formulas. Many babies have brief periods when they can’t digest lactose, particularly after bouts of diarrhea. Some parents believe soy formula may ease colic or fussiness, though HealthyChildren.org states there’s no evidence of that. If you wish to raise your child as a vegetarian, soy formula has the benefit of containing no animal products.

Soy Formula Problems

Soy formula can make stools harder, worsening or causing constipation in some babies, according to Heyman. Another problem with switching to a soy formula: Some babies may be allergic to soy. Giving these babies soy formula could actually cause digestive problems, including constipation. According to Dr. Greene.com, about 20 percent of babies with a cow’s milk allergy will also be allergic to soy. Both these allergies are typically outgrown as infants or toddlers. Some soy formulas are lower in iron than milk-based formulas. Parents may choose soy formula for this reason because taking iron supplements causes constipation in adults, but HealthyChildren.org recommends iron-fortified baby formulas to prevent anemia. There’s no evidence that using a low-iron supplement will help ease constipation.

Additional Considerations

For babies allergic to soy or milk-based formulas, hypoallergenic formulas are available. Some formulas are fortified with probiotics, healthy bacteria that may ease constipation and other digestive problems. Other constipation remedies may be worth a try. If your baby seems to be constipated, Heyman suggests giving your little one extra water or offering a bottle of diluted prune juice once or twice a day. Once your baby starts on solid food, typically at 6 months of age, cereal and baby foods with peas, beans and other vegetables will help get things moving because they contain constipation-easing fiber.

The Top 5 Vegetables for Digestion

Including a variety of the top vegetables for digestion in your diet is a great way to boost your body’s ability to process nutrients efficiently.

Whether it’s bloat, gas, frequent bathroom breaks, or constipation, having healthy digestion is one of the most popular topics with my clients and our community. While I already discussed the fiber-rich fruits that help to keep your system flowing, now it’s time to talk about a handful of vegetables that can help improve digestion. Both fruits and vegetables are known for their fiber content, but there are some key veggies that have a “special” effect on digestion.

Depending on your unique digestive system, gut microbiota, and tolerance to fiber, eating too much fiber can either leave you feeling very full and possibly constipated or with frequent bathroom breaks. The key when boosting fiber in your diet is to take it slow and steady, give your body enough time and space to get used to the increase in fiber.

This article will cover a few of the best vegetables for digestion that you may want to consider incorporating into your daily diet to optimize gut health.

1. Artichokes For Digestion

Just one medium artichoke has nearly seven grams of fiber! It’s also incredibly versatile and easy to include in your weekly meal plan. Try adding it to a salad, adding it to a stir-fry, to soup, or making a variation of a classic cashew cheese dip with artichokes to give it a fiber boost!

We know how important fiber is to our digestive system, but did you know there are different types of fiber? Eating both soluble and insoluble fiber are necessary to help move foods through your digestive system. In general, fiber is found mostly and most abundantly in fruits, vegetables, and legumes — if you’re eating a whole food diet you’re most likely getting plenty of fiber.

Depending on what your body needs, fiber can help put your bathroom breaks on a more regular schedule by either relieving constipation or helping to soak up extra water that could lead to diarrhea.

Artichokes have several special traits that make these vegetables good for digestion. In fact, these leafy bundles also provide prebiotics, which allows the good bacteria in your gut to flourish. You need prebiotics (and probiotics) to help your gut stay healthy. More recent studies are also continuing to unravel the link between gut health and so many conditions, including anxiety, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes (1).

Studies show that artichokes can actually help control symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including stomach aches, bloating, and frequent bathroom visits (2). Artichokes have also been shown to protect the liver, which is important for nutrient absorption and fat digestion (3).

2. Greens For Digestion

All of those leafy vegetables you add in your salads not only provide heaps of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants but also contain a lot of fiber, too. A cup of collard greens, for example, has seven grams of fiber, while a cup of cooked kale has about five grams.

Research has unearthed a close link between leafy greens like spinach and digestion. Greens contain a type of fiber known as insoluble fiber, and though that sounds like that would make these vegetables that are hard to digest, it actually helps get your intestines to push waste through your GI tract and out of the body. Pretty cool, huh? Think of insoluble fiber as a more solid source of fiber that helps add bulk to stool because it doesn’t dissolve in water. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is more like a gentle broom sweeping out your intestines — it’s forms a soft gel when combined with water, like chia seed pudding.

Remember, greens also go well in a salad, but you can also try adding a couple handfuls to your morning smoothie, to a stir-fry, stew, soup, or stuffed in a sandwich.

3. Squash For Digestion

No matter which type of squash you choose—acorn, butternut, yellow, or green—you’ll find a decent amount of fiber. Acorn squash actually dishes up about nine grams of fiber and zucchini provides about one gram in a single cup.

These easy to digest vegetables provide both insoluble and soluble fiber, but it’s mostly the soluble fiber that shines through. This type of fiber dissolves in water, which means if you’re having loose stools or diarrhea, it can help keep it under control.

So, the next time you have squash at home, try roasting it, using it as a “bowl” for stuffed squash, pureeing it for a mash (like mashed potatoes), adding it to a Nourish Bowl, to smoothies (yes, seriously!), or mixing it into soup. There are so many ways to enjoy squash and this fiber-rich vegetable.

4. Broccoli For Digestion

In addition to containing five grams of fiber in one cup of cooked broccoli, this veggie may also help your digestion by protecting your gut microbiome, which is the mix of healthy bacteria in your gut. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that broccoli activated a receptor in the gut that helped reduce inflammation (4). This is especially beneficial for people with digestive conditions, like colitis.

Most of my clients who come to me with digestive problems often have issues tolerating hard to digest vegetables like broccoli when raw. It causes a lot of bloating, gas, and sometimes makes their stomachs very bloated and distended. In order to combat that and still get the nutrition punch and fiber boost that broccoli has to offer, simply cook it!

Try broccoli steamed or roasted with a splash of balsamic vinegar, gluten-free soy sauce and olive oil (my personal favorite). Alternatively, enjoy it steamed, add it to green smoothies, or pulse it into a fine “rice” to cook like a stir-fry.

5. Celery For Digestion

Celery is mostly water, so why is it great for digestion? Filled with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and soluble and insoluble fiber, you get an array of health benefits with celery. Just one stalk contains around one gram of fiber, plus a whole host of other vitamins and minerals.

A type of polysaccharide (or sugar) in celery can also improve the lining of your stomach and reduce stomach ulcers. To top it off, celery is made up of about 95 percent water so it can help improve hydration. The more water you consume, the better everything moves through your system. Hydration is key, friends!

Cooking Vegetables for Better Digestion

Some people actually have a difficult time digesting raw vegetables. This is because of a fiber called cellulose, which can be difficult for your body to break down. However, if you cook vegetables, it actually makes it easier to digest veggies.

So if you have any issues eating raw vegetables, give them a quick cook! Sauté, roast, blanch, or steam — whichever method you choose to use to cook your vegetables will work to help them move more easily through your system. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the nutrients being “killed” off while cooking, check this article out.

For a few ideas on how to cook summer vegetables, check out this story. And for more ideas on digestion-friendly meals that feature cooked veggies, give these delicious recipes a try:

  • Black Eyed Peas and Kale Soup
  • Simple Grilled Vegetable Skewers
  • Hearty Vegetable Bowl
  • Ultimate Vegetable Pot

Put This Into Practice

Not only do these healthy veggies provide a host of important vitamins and minerals, but they can also support overall digestive health as well. Plus, they’re versatile, full of fiber, and easy to enjoy as part of a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet. Try incorporating them into your favorite meals or cooking them for a simple side dish during the week! There are endless ways to include these healthy ingredients in your weekly routine.

If you’re looking for more support and ways to integrate more vegetables for digestion into your life, then check out our Wellness Coaching. We offer appointments virtually and all of our NS Wellness Coaches are professionally trained to give you expert guidance and practical plans for long-term health! to take the client quiz.

When they switch to Paleo, some people effortlessly dive right in to overflowing heaps of salad greens, massive piles of roast broccoli, and endless bowls of coleslaw. But not everyone finds it quite that easy, particularly if they’re coming from a low-vegetable diet, or if they’re trying to heal from pre-existing digestive problems like IBS. Feeling bloated or overstuffed is fairly common if you suddenly add a huge amount of roughage to your diet; some people also get gassy and constipated, or just feel “off” all the time.

If it’s still the first few weeks of Paleo for you, the first thing to try is very simple: cut back your vegetable intake to a comfortable level, and then slowly work your way back up (this should take 1-2 weeks, depending on how far back you had to cut in the first place). For the vast majority of people who don’t have serious gastrointestinal issues and just need to adjust, this will solve the problem without further ado.

If you’ve already tried that and it doesn’t help (or if it helped some, but didn’t get you all the way there), it’s probably a sign that there’s something more serious going on than “I’m not used to eating this many vegetables.” So here’s a guide to choosing and preparing vegetables to make them easier on the stomach.

Why can Vegetables be Hard on your Stomach?

In a word: fiber. Fiber is any kind of carbohydrate that you can’t break down and use for energy (although sometimes your gut flora can). And yes, even though it’s famously healthy in the abstract, it can still cause problems for certain people. This study goes over an exhaustive review of fiber and digestion, but here’s the short version:

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber is fiber that your gut flora can ferment. For most people, that’s perfectly fine and even very healthy: their gut flora get a tasty brunch and everything else keeps humming along as normal. The fermentation does produce some gas, but it’s not enough to cause any noticeable symptoms.

Some people are very sensitive to the effects of these fermentable carbohydrates, though, to the point that the gas produced causes bloating and other general discomfort. The most famous culprits for this are the short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. FODMAPs carbohydrates can be the culprits behind almost anything from diarrhea to constipation to extreme bloating – some gastroenterologists even think that “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” is really just a FODMAPs sensitivity.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is not fermentable: you can’t use it, and neither can your gut flora. It just goes in your mouth and out the other end. The most famous result is an increase in stool bulk – this is one of the reasons why why insoluble fiber is often used as a laxative (e.g. in psyllium husk).

Insoluble fiber isn’t quite as infamous for causing digestive problems as soluble fiber, but there’s still at least some evidence that it’s not all good. For one thing, it works as a laxative by literally irritating the lining of the gut so much that the gut wall produces more mucus as a lubricant and increases peristalsis (movement of feces through the digestive tract) just to get the irritating fiber out of there.

How to Make Vegetables Easier on your Stomach

Choose the Right Ones

Choosing fruits and vegetables low in FODMAPs can go a long way towards improving your “gut reaction.” Onions and garlic are two vegetables very high in FODMAPs; some people get relief just by eliminating those two. Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) are also common problem foods. Other people find it helpful to get even more involved: here’s a list of Paleo low-FODMAP foods if you want more.

Some good safe choices are:

  • Carrots
  • Zucchini and other summer squash
  • Butternut, acorn, and other winter squash
  • Lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Bananas

Cook them

Cooking vegetables helps break down the fibers they contain, which makes them easier on the digestive system because they’re already partly broken down. You don’t have to boil the life out of everything you eat; it’s fine to steam, sauté, or roast them so long as they’re well-done at the end.

Some tasty cooked vegetable recipes to try are:

  • Spinach and sun-dried tomato pasta
  • Roasted cauliflower with bacon
  • Roasted ambercup squash
  • Warm broccoli and carrot slaw

Mashed vegetables (potatoes – or carrots, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower) can also be a little easier to manage because they’re almost pre-digested by the mashing before they get to your plate.

If it’s really bad, you could also try eating vegetables only in soups, cooked so long that they’re almost falling apart. Normally, cooking vegetables in water for so long would be an issue because of nutrient loss, but in a soup, you’re eating the water as well: even though nutrients leach out into the broth, they still end up in your body anyway.

Eat Smaller Portions

Paleo is famous for the huge plates of vegetables: after all, why would bother getting out a separate bowl and taking only half the spinach when you could just dump your toppings into the clamshell and call it lunch? But if vegetables are causing you digestive trouble, this really isn’t the way to go.

Instead, try starting with small servings and working up gradually. Instead of digging into a massive pile of cabbage, start with a small plate of something gentler (like squash) and gradually work your way up. It may take a while to re-introduce, and some foods might never be “safe” in anything more than small amounts, but you might also find that after some gut healing time, you can digest a lot more than you thought you could.

Heal your Gut

Nobody wants to be on an elimination diet forever. It’s pretty monotonous – and in many cases, it shouldn’t even be necessary. The point of cutting out vegetables that irritate your gut isn’t to live without them forever; it’s to give everything a chance to heal so that ultimately you’ll be able to eat those foods again without fear.

Specific gut-healing protocols vary from person to person, but bone broth, probiotic foods (or supplements), plenty of sleep, and good stress management are always safe places to start.

Summing it Up

Vegetables are pretty wonderful foods, and most people feel great eating as many as they want. But if you keep finding that vegetables irritate your stomach, there is hope!

  • It might just be the transition – if you’re still in the first few weeks, just cut back and ramp it up again slowly.
  • Alternately, it might be a sensitivity to certain types of fibers – try reducing FODMAPs, cooking everything well, and paying special attention to healing the gut.
  • In rare cases, it might be a vegetable allergy (yes, those exist!) or a different kind of vegetable trouble.

Often, vegetable sensitivities aren’t forever, or at least they get a lot better over time. And they certainly shouldn’t ever stand between you and Paleo.

Why Can’t I Digest Fresh Fruits and Vegetables?

Q1. What could be the reason or reasons I can’t eat fresh fruits or raw vegetables? Every time I attempt to, it causes me to vomit soon after. I’m in my early 40s and would like to be able to eat these foods!

Both fresh fruits and vegetables are high in insoluble fiber (roughage). While fiber is usually a means to help regulate bowel movements, some patients have extreme sensitivity to roughage and cannot tolerate it. Reasons for fiber intolerance include nonulcer dyspepsia; some forms of irritable bowel syndrome, in which high fiber can increase gas production and a feeling of bloating; and a gastric-emptying disorder that prevents the stomach from processing food properly and can lead to feelings of fullness, indigestion, pain, and occasionally, reflux.

I recommend that you see a gastroenterologist to determine whether you have a gastric-emptying disorder that may be treatable with medication or other approaches. If not, cooked fruits and vegetables are easier to digest for most individuals. Further, some fruits and vegetables, such as bananas and tomatoes, are lower in roughage and may be easier for you to digest. Finally, I recommend eating fruits and vegetables in small amounts to see whether this improves tolerance.

Q2. Will freshly ground flaxseed, taken on a daily basis, make your bowels lazy or give you soft, diarrhea-type stools?

— Nancy, California

Ground flaxseed is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a precursor of the omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help address hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood) by improving the balance of good to bad cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease through this mechanism, although there is no clear evidence yet that ingesting flaxseed products improves cardiovascular outcomes.

Flaxseed also demonstrates antioxidant properties and may affect the estrogen receptor, so some have advocated its use for preventing breast cancer.

The clearest evidence for usefulness of ground flaxseed has been as a laxative, so looser stools are common, although frank diarrhea is much less common. As the loose stools appear to be dose-related, lowering the dose of ground flaxseed may firm up the stools somewhat.

Q3. I am lactose-intolerant and enjoy soy milk, but I have read that it increases your estrogen hormone levels and this can be bad for you. I take a supplement for calcium and I don’t want to take any chemically enhanced products, such as Lactaid. I have tried rice milk and some of the nut milks, but I just don’t like anything as well as soy milk. Is soy milk really that bad for me to drink? What about my children?

Soy contains natural plant estrogens — that is correct. However, it is not bad for you to drink soy milk, since you would need to drink a lot of it before you took in a concerning amount of estrogen. Plant estrogens are much weaker than human estrogens as far as their effects in the body. In fact, many of the studies of menopausal women who try to boost the amount of soy in their diets to relieve menopausal symptoms cannot show that this dietary therapy has any effect whatsoever. If you (or your children) are just drinking normal amounts of milk (several cups daily), then you really do not need to worry.

Soy is not the only food that contains plant estrogens — lentils, chickpeas, various grains, flaxseeds, and other fruits and vegetables do, too. These foods are part of a healthy diet. Finally, you can be reassured by the fact that in parts of the world where soy makes up a major part of the diet, such as Asian countries, there are no higher rates of breast cancer. I hope that puts your mind at ease.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Digestive Health Center.

Can Vegetables Cause Digestive Issues?

From the time you were a child, you have had the message drilled into you: Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you. And while there’s no denying the truth of that statement, it’s a little more complicated than you might think.
Consuming too many vegetables can cause a host of digestive issues, including occasional bloating, constipation and bowel irritation. But that doesn’t mean you should give them up. The trick is to understand exactly what is happening within your body and then take steps to help your digestive system process the vegetables you consume.

Why Do Vegetables Cause Digestive Problems?

It all comes down to fiber. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the kind that can be absorbed by your gut bacteria. In most cases, it helps maintain a healthy ecosystem in your intestines and keeps your body functioning normally. But some people can have sensitivities to soluble fiber sources, which may result in intestinal distress.
The foods that most commonly cause this issue contain short chain carbohydrates collectively known as FODMAPs: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Common examples of these foods include broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. These foods are more difficult for your body to absorb, so they are likely to move along to your large intestine, where they can cause the intestinal walls to swell, leaving you feeling bloated. FODMAPs sensitivity is believed to contribute to gastrointestinal disorders.
The other type of fiber is insoluble fiber. It cannot be absorbed by your body. Instead, it pushes through your entire digestive system, pulling in water and bulking up your stool. This makes it popular among those suffering from constipation, but it can also be hard on your intestines, especially if they’re already irritated. Vegetables high in insoluble fiber include zucchini, broccoli, leafy greens and root vegetables.

How Can I Help My Body Digest Vegetables More Easily?

The simple answer to vegetable-induced digestive distress may seem to be cutting vegetables from your diet, or at least cutting back on them, but then you would be depriving yourself of the many nutrients they contain. A better solution is to think more carefully about the types of vegetables you consume and how they’re prepared. Try following some of the steps below.

Choose vegetables low in FODMAPs
FODMAPs are the most common culprit when it comes to vegetable-induced digestive problems, and you may experience relief just by removing these from your diet. Try removing these vegetables as a group or one at a time, to see if that improves your symptoms. Garlic and onion are two of the worst offenders, and you may experience relief just by eliminating these two ingredients from your diet.
Other vegetables to consider cutting back on include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.)
  • Shelled peas, including sugar snap peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans
  • Artichoke
  • Celery
  • Asparagus

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Cook the Vegetables

When it comes to vegetables high in insoluble fiber, you may prefer to cook them first. This makes these tough fibers a little gentler on your digestive system, because they are already partially broken down before you consume them. The cooking method doesn’t matter — steam, roast, boil or sauté them. The effect will be the same. In the case of soft vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, mashing them may also help to minimize digestive distress. Mashing them mimics chewing and gives your body less work to do in order to properly digest these foods.

Chew Thoroughly

The digestion process begins in your mouth, where your body produces enzymes to begin the chemical breakdown of food. Chewing assists these enzymes by breaking the food down into smaller pieces. The better digested the food is by the time it reaches your intestines, the more likely its nutrients will be readily absorbed. Undigested and malabsorbed food can remain in your gut for a long time, and it can even cause tears in your intestinal walls, which can lead to a host of health problems. By always chewing your food thoroughly, you can minimize the potential of this occurring and help your body to get the most out of food.

Heal Your Gut

If you’re suffering from digestive problems, chances are that there is something out of whack in your gut. In addition to cutting out harmful foods, you should also take some proactive steps to heal your gut and promote the growth of healthy bacteria. One of the simplest ways to do this is by adding a daily probiotic. These are strains of good bacteria that help your body to digest food and fight off infection. We recommend Enzymedica’s Pro-Bio for a basic probiotic. Or if you are looking for more comprehensive digestive support, try Enzymedica’s Digest Gold + PROBIOTICS. In addition to probiotics, it contains a range of enzymes that help your body to break down foods.
Another part of healing your gut is just taking good care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and try to keep your stress levels low. When you look after yourself, your body is able to function at an optimal level.

Try fermented vegetables

Fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kim chi) are a viable alternative to traditional vegetables, especially for those who suffer from digestive issues. The fermentation process that these foods undergo is similar to how your body digests food, so they are essentially pre-digested before you consume them. This makes them much easier for your body to handle. Fermented vegetables are also a good source of probiotics, which, as mentioned above, are a great way of promoting a healthy gut.

More tips

If you’ve tried everything else and you’re still experiencing digestive discomfort from eating too many vegetables, you may want to cut back on the amount you’re eating. For at least a few weeks, stick to smaller servings of vegetables and try to select vegetables that are easier for your body to digest. Then, once you’ve given your body time to heal, you can try reintroducing other vegetables and increasing portion sizes slowly. See how your body reacts and then decide how you want to proceed from there.

Consider the following: there are hundreds of objectively healthy foods out there for us to choose from: veggies rich in all manner of powerful antioxidants, fruits rich in potassium and vitamins, nuts and seeds rich in magnesium, fish and plant-based foods loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3’s, leafy greens and beans rich in folate, and herbs, spices and teas with known anti-inflammatory compounds.

Now, let’s say you have a friend who has an allergy to one of these healthy foods; we’ll choose nuts for the sake of this example. Does the fact of your friend’s nut allergy mean that nuts aren’t still an objectively healthy food for human beings in general? Should you encourage your friend to experience an allergic reaction because the nuts are a “superfood?” Are nuts a healthy food choice for your friend? Of course not. Can your friend obtain similar—if not the same—nutritional benefits from other foods that won’t endanger their life?

Most people considering the example of food allergy above would conclude that nuts can be both a nutritious food AND a food that happens to make this particular person feel “bad.” These two things can be true at once. We take it as a given that a person with a nut allergy should avoid nuts and replace them with something comparable but tolerable—like sunflower seed butter or roasted pumpkin seeds perhaps. It wouldn’t occur to us that the person should feel guilty for their allergy, as if the nut allergy were some sort of personal moral failing.

But I’m amazed by the guilt that seems to drive my patients to force down foods that make them feel digestively awful because they feel they “should.”

There’s something amiss in our wellness culture when people feel so guilty about the fact that eating a bagel may feel infinitely better than eating a giant kale salad that they wind up in a clinician’s office essentially seeking “permission” to stop eating the kale salad.

I attribute this largely to a public dialogue about food and health that has appropriated such virtuosic language that it’s easy to see how feeling bloated, gassy, and miserable after eating a kale salad could seem like a moral failing to someone on a quest for better health. If kale salads are part of a “clean” diet and wheat flour is deemed “toxic” or “inflammatory,” then it’s not hard to imagine the impulse to seek a dispensation from a doctor or dietitian to eat a so-called ‘bad’ food that feels—well, good.

Social media messaging within the healthy eating and wellness community—particularly on Instagram—seems to fuel feelings of guilt associated with “failing” to tolerate the staples of “clean living,” like kale salads, smoothie bowls, raw date cacao energy balls, avocado chocolate “mousse” and entire heads of roasted cauliflower. (Not to mention those of us who are able to tolerate them digestively but simply dislike them.) One small study published in the European journal Eating and Weight Disorders surveyed hundreds of social media users who followed healthy-food-focused accounts. The researchers found that higher use of Instagram was associated with a person exhibiting more symptoms of an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. Orthorexia describes a fixation with “pure” or “clean” eating to the point of becoming unhealthily restricted. It can express itself in terms of extreme psychological preoccupation with the provenance of the food one eats; guilt over perceived dietary indiscretions; social isolation due to rigid, inflexible eating habits; and/or malnutrition from excessive restriction.

The increasingly narrow portrayal of what’s “healthy” as defined by fad diet books or social media influencers is often at odds with the wide variety of dietary patterns that actual scientific research tells us are healthy. And it can really do a number on your emotional wellbeing.

“Let’s find the healthiest diet you can comfortably tolerate.”

The first step in liberating yourself from unhealthfully-limiting beliefs about what you should be eating is to broaden your mindset around what constitutes a healthy diet. In the U.S. we are fortunate enough to live in a country where a dizzying variety of foods is available all year round (although food deserts and food swamps mean that we don’t all have equal access to all foods). Because of this, no single food in our diets needs to carry the weight of delivering the entire supply of a single nutrient, nor is there any single, essential “superfood” we all must eat… or else. Since many different foods provide similar nutrients, I try to help my patients identify nutritious foods they love—and that love them back—to replace others they feel obliged to eat but don’t actually feel so good.

How to Eat Your Vegetables Raw (With No Gas or Bloating!)

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Many people assume that all raw vegetables are good for them. But raw vegetables are only beneficial as a food source if you can digest them, which is more of a widespread issue than most people realize.

There are some vegetables that you will always want to consume cooked or fermented.

You can use the Veggie Culture Starter to ferment vegetables to enjoy at each meal. Eating cultured vegetables will help you to get even more benefits out of the raw vegetables you eat!

Additionally, some raw vegetables are better than others, so be careful with what you munch and learn to choose the best raw vegetables of the bunch.

Vegetables are nature’s most perfect foods and are also the most abundant foods on earth. They are alkaline-forming and rich with the vitamins and minerals needed to heal your body.

Raw vegetables are said to be enzyme-rich and are therefore widely believed to be an excellent source of enzymes that aid digestion. However, many people’s digestive systems are simply too weak to digest raw vegetables in spite of all their natural enzymes.

Are You Digesting Your Raw Vegetables?

For many, digestive distress like gas, bloating and abdominal pain are common reactions after eating a meal that includes raw vegetables. Tune in to your stomach the next time you eat a raw vegetable and see how you feel.

Poor digestion of raw vegetables is more common than you might think, yet the popular raw foods movement has many of us convinced that we must eat raw foods to be healthy.

Yes, raw foods do contain enzymes, but raw vegetables also contain cellulose, a fiber that is poorly digested by humans. Though fiber has little nutritional value, it is very important for intestinal health and for helping form a healthy stool. But unlike cows and other ruminants, humans simply do not have the enzymes in our bodies necessary to properly digest the fiber in vegetables.

The enzyme needed to digest cellulose is called cellulase and it’s produced by intestinal bacteria. Cellulase enzymes break cellulose fiber down into blood sugar. Since humans cannot digest cellulose, taking a digestive enzyme like the specially formulated Assist digestive enzymes is not only necessary but vital for healthy cells. Fermenting raw vegetable is also key because this process breaks down or pre-digests the fiber.

What the Ancients Knew about Raw Vegetables

The ancients were well aware that raw vegetables were difficult to digest; in Chinese Medicine, for example, it is well known that raw foods are best eaten by someone with strong “digestive fire.” A major cause of poor “digestive fire” is that our adrenals and thyroid are both poorly nourished and taxed by toxins and daily stress. It takes energy to digest foods but they are not doing the job.

The Body Ecology system of health and healing focuses on creating this “digestive fire” by creating a healthy inner ecosystem; the foods recommended on the diet are teeming with friendly microflora (good bacteria) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.

Until your inner ecosystem is healthy, you may have trouble digesting raw vegetables.

For this reason, we suggest cooking your vegetables by baking, simmering, sautéing or lightly steaming them to make them more digestible. Simultaneously focus on strengthening your digestive fire by eating cultured foods. Cultured vegetables have an abundance of enzymes and contain beneficial bacteria that are very helpful at digesting all the foods eaten in your meals.

Fermented foods like raw cultured vegetables will provide you with important plant enzymes and healthy microflora to populate your inner ecosystem to build your digestive fire. The Body Ecology system of health and healing provides many other solutions to heal your digestion and create energy and vitality. Following the 7 principles and adding fermented foods and drinks will get you on your way to strengthening your digestive fire so that you can get the most from that raw vegetable platter.

Beware! Some Vegetables Should Always be Cooked

Eventually as your digestion improves, certain raw vegetables can become a part of your daily diet.

However, there are some vegetables that you will always want to consume cooked or fermented. This includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards and brussel sprouts — all members of the cruciferous family that in their raw state are considered to be “cooling” and suppressing to your thyroid.

Again, it is very important to ferment or cook these very nutritious vegetables. (When we added collards as one of the many super-nutritious ingredients in our Vitality SuperGreen Drink, we went to the extra expense and effort to have them fermented.) Remember, when you ferment any food, you increase its nutritional value.

Meanwhile, here are a few vegetables that most people can comfortably handle raw. But remember you are unique, so see if they work for you:

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery (a high-fiber vehicle for your favorite dip)
  • Carrots (still difficult for some)
  • Red, yellow and orange bell pepper (not green, which is typically immature and difficult to digest)
  • Summer squashes like yellow squash and zucchini.

Whether raw, cooked, or fermented, Donna Gates, creator of The Body Ecology Diet, says, “The most important foods you will eat are first and foremost vegetables. We’re very fortunate today because we have vegetables that come from all over the place. We have all kinds of variety, beautiful colors. Vegetables if you really, really think about it are kind of miraculous foods. And when you study the genes, and when you study the microbiome, you’ll see that they’re the most important foods you can possibly eat.”

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Here’s a recap of some key ways to make digesting raw vegetables easier:

  • Include fermented foods and drinks (our Vitality SuperGreen Drink contains fermented collard greens) in your diet so you can build a healthy inner ecosystem. A gut supported by beneficial bacteria can help you digest your food and assimilate the nutrients. Cultured vegetables allow you to get all the benefits of fermented foods and raw vegetables at the same time.
  • Chew your vegetables completely — at least 20 times per bite.
  • Bake, simmer, sauté, or lightly steam your vegetables to make them more digestible.
  • Blend your vegetables in a raw vegetable smoothie.
  • Take Assist Enzymes to boost your digestion at each meal.

According to the Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness, your digestion may behave differently than anyone else’s — so watch and observe how your body responds to the raw foods you eat. Most people are able to comfortably enjoy vegetables like cucumbers, celery, summer squashes, and red, yellow, and orange bell peppers when eaten raw.

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