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So you’ve been told to take more fiber for your health. At least 30 grams for men, and 20 for women. You got the message that dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) is crucial for facilitating digestion. And now you’re loading up on broccoli, bran, oats, fiber rich fruits and veggies – and at the same time – unloading a whole bunch of gas. Has your name become “Sir Toots-A-Lot” around your friends? Do you even have any friends left?
You’ve heard the saying “Slow and steady wins the race”. Well when it comes to fiber, this couldn’t be more true. Especially if you’re just starting to add more fiber to your diet. While men need 30-38 grams of fiber a day – 21-25 grams for women – you need to introduce more fiber slowly. Start with just a couple of grams a day, increasing every two weeks.
Keep Your Fibers Separate
When it comes to fiber, variety truly is the spice of life. So make sure you’re not just eating figs; but an assortment of fruits, vegetables, oats and wheat. But be careful, while it’s tempting to make yourself a nice thick bowl of oatmeal topped with raspberries, blueberries, and raisins – you’re going to blow yourself up like a balloon with such a dish. To avoid unnecessary bloating, have oatmeal on its own, or fruit on its own – not combined together.
Balance The Solubles
When it comes to a healthy and balanced dietary fiber diet, you need to eat foods that contain both soluble, and insoluble fiber. The two combined are not just important for digestion, but help prevent constipation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – even diabetes! According to the American Cancer Society, you need anywhere from 20-35 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber every day.
Bye Bye Broccoli
Sometimes kids have the right idea by pushing their broccoli aside. Because when it comes to bloating and gas, broccoli – as well as beans and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower – cause a tremendous amount of gas as they’re hard for your body to digest. So when it comes to these gas causing culprits, don’t avoid them, but greatly reduce your intake of them – opting for other less gassy sources for your fiber needs.
Douse It With Water
Think of the fiber you’re taking like a fire. You’re gonna want to douse it with water. Lots of it! When you increase your fiber intake, you must also increase the amount of water you drink, because what happens is the water combines with the fiber to create a gel-like mass in your bowls to help move your food through your digestive tract. So make sure you consume at a minimum, six to eight glasses a day.
Just when you thought you’ve heard all the benefits of exercise, here comes another one: it reduces gas. Yes, even going for a 10-minute walk will help move food through your digestive tract faster, relieving you of painful bloating and embarrassing gas.
Here’s your soluble fiber foods: apples, pears, oranges, lentils, oats, and of course, beans. As for your insoluble sources of fiber: brown rice, barely, broccoli, cabbage, whole-grains, nuts and seeds. Oh, and always check the fiber content on the side of the package of the foods you buy. You’d be surprised just how many foods claim to be full of fiber, only to show 1 gram in the ingredients list.
A Few Warnings
While fiber definitely causes painful bloating and gas, especially to new users – not all causes of intestinal discomfort are because of it. If your bloating and gas is chronic, and there seems to never be any relief, you might have a food intolerance or allergy. For example, foods containing lactose (such as dairy), or gluten (wheat), cause many people great discomfort because they’re either intolerant or allergic to it. So talk to your doctor if you suspect there’s an on-going issue. Also, there are plenty of lactose, even fiber digestive aids you can pick up at your pharmacy. So do your due diligence before overhauling your diet to a more fiber-rich one.