When first adopting a plant-based diet, it is common to experience intestinal discomfort and severe bloating. It takes time for your gut bacteria to adjust after a major shift in lifestyle, so these symptoms are completely normal and expected.
What causes bloating on a vegan diet?
Years of eating a low-fiber diet wrecks havoc on the digestive system, which contains highly beneficial bacteria that feed on fiber. When you suddenly start eating fiber-rich vegetables and legumes, your gut has a difficult time due to missing the necessary bacteria required to properly break down fiber. It is nonetheless extremely frustrating to constantly deal with intestinal distress, gas, and an uncomfortably swollen belly as you wait for your body to adapt.
How do you heal your gut bacteria to reduce bloating?
Both of us experienced these side effects and experimented with numerous methods to reduce bloating. Focusing on chewing food thoroughly, soaking beans prior to cooking, and eliminating cruciferous vegetables can help somewhat, but the only thing that rapidly alleviated bloating for us is consuming a high-quality probiotic designed for those following a plant-based diet.
Probiotic supplements support digestive health and help to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut. Unfortunately it is not as simple as picking up any probiotic you can find at the grocery store. There is a wide range of bacterial strains used in probiotics and it is crucial that you choose strains that have been thoroughly evaluated and studied. It is important to keep in mind that many probiotics not only contain animal products, they are also specifically formulated to help people digest meat and dairy. If you aren’t consuming those products, it is best that you choose a probiotic intended for vegans.
Even after years of being vegan, I periodically still experience an imbalance in my gut caused by occasional antibiotic use or stress, both of which can drastically change the balance of intestinal bacteria. When this occurs, probiotics are a lifesaver and help me to speed up the healing process, avoiding weeks of an uncomfortable bloated belly. If you are having ongoing digestive issues, I highly recommend trying one of the probiotics listed below. If problems persist, it is advisable to get a stool test to see exactly what bacteria you are missing or what you might have an overgrowth of in order to be sure that you are taking the most suitable approach to healiing your gut.
In addition to probiotics, there are a few things you can do to help reduce bloating:
Dr. Fuhrman’s Flora Biotect
This is my go-to product for speeding up bacterial adaptation after encountering digestive issues following antibiotic use or stress. Of all the probiotics I have experimented with, this one is consistently effective at resolving bloating and improving overall digestive function within weeks of consistent use. It’s not cheap, but it is of the highest quality and has never failed to work for the numerous people I have recommended it to. With 20 billion live cultures per capsule, this probiotic contains carefully selected, research-supported bacteria strains that work together to provide maximum intestinal benefits. Flora Biotect also includes prebiotics for optimal stimulation of beneficial bacteria. Additionally, each capsule is individually sealed in nitrogen-purged blister packs, which ensure that they stay potent.
Renew Life - Ultimate Flora Probiotic Extra Care
Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora boasts 10 different strains and 50 billion live cultures per capsule. Delayed-release vegetable capsules ensure that probiotics reach the intestinal tract where they can get to work to reduce bloating, gas, and digestive discomfort. This is one of the most highly reviewed probiotics on the market. Many friends of mine swear by it and I use it intermittently as it is recommended to switch up your probiotic every couple of months. This probiotic only needs to be taken once a day and has the convenience of not needing to be kept refrigerated.
Goodbelly StraightShot was recommended to me by my doctor years ago and is widely regarded as one of the most high quality and reliable probiotics. I used StraightShot in the past, and while I was impressed with its effectiveness, I didn’t love the flavor of the drink and strongly prefer the convenience of a capsule supplement. I was thrilled to learn that Goodbelly recently released a capsulated probiotic with 10 billion live cultures! I have been taking this probiotic for nearly a month and it has effectively resolved my recent sudden sensitivity to kale and cauliflower. Long-term Goodbelly users report drastically improved digestion and a noticeably stronger immune system.