Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan.
Does the stomach ever get accustomed to eating a plant-based diet and no longer have GI distress? I am afraid of getting bloated and windy (gassy). I have IBS. Thanks!
I am sorry to hear that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have been experiencing intestinal irritation. Yes, I can assure you that the stomach does in fact adjust very nicely to eating a vegan diet. As with many things in life, one has to give themselves time to adjust to this new way of life. For example, I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is not accustomed to eating vegetables and legumes start eating 2 cups of beans in one sitting.
I also recommend digestive enzymes. Raw food contains many enzymes on its own which are highly beneficial. However, most people primarily consume cooked food and the enzymes are destroyed during the cooking process. As a result the pancreas needs to secrete digestive enzymes to assist in the breakdown of our food. When our pancreas becomes over-taxed, over time it is not able to secrete as many digestive enzymes.
“Eighty percent of our body’s energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant or a frequent traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!”
– Dr. DicQie Fuller, The Healing Power of Enzymes
We can assist our bodies by eating as many raw foods as possible and by taking digestive enzymes. I personally take digestive enzymes. I have had great results with Life Extension’s Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes and Hippocrates Health Institute’s LifeGive Digestive Enzymes.
One other solution to keep in mind is the addition of probiotics into your daily regimen. Read a past Ask Grettie column about probiotics.
If the above solutions do not solve your GI issues, you may have a food intolerance or allergy which may be causing some of the uncomfortable inflammation in your digestive tract. Keep a food log and see if you notice any patterns with regards to when you experience your GI issues and whether it is related to the consumption of certain foods. A great way to determine the offending food is to put yourself on an elimination diet. Basically you remove possible food triggers for a week and then slowly add them back one at a time to see if your symptoms return. If the symptoms return after adding back a particular food, then you have found your culprit (some people have more than one). I used an elimination diet to determine my gluten intolerance.
According to Dr. McDougall, the six leading causes of food allergies are dairy, eggs, chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and fish. Becoming vegan will automatically remove four of the six most common food allergens from your diet…yet another reason to praise vegan diets! If nuts and chocolate are not your triggers, then it is time to move on to the elimination of the following potential allergens from the vegetable kingdom, wheat (and/or gluten in general), corn, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Please keep in touch and let me know if the above recommendations help solve your GI distress.
Here’s to health!
**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at email@example.com .**
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3 responses to “ASK GRETTIE – Digesting the Vegan Diet”
Great post. I’ve studied food allergy for a long time and just want to chime in by saying that some immune-mediated symptoms can appear up to 24-48 hours after consuming the offending food. This complicates matters a little bit, but it should be taken into consideration when assessing the relationship between intake and symptoms.
Also, if I may add another 2 cents, soy is a frequent offender, unfortunately.
Great information Christal! Thanks for adding to the discussion 🙂