High-fibre diets are known to cause bloating and abdominal pain.
However, researchers have found a solution for this problem.
They say eating a high-fibre diet rich in carbohydrates instead of protein-rich regimens reduces bloating.
In this clinical trial, researchers examined 164 participants who consumed three versions of high-fibre diets.
Participants who ate a high-fibre diet rich in plant proteins were 40 percent more likely to experience bloating symptoms compared to a carbohydrate-rich version.
Foods rich in fibre appear to increase the population of certain good bacteria beneficial to human health.
However, bloating and abdominal pain are consequences of gas produced from breaking down fibre by this bacteria in the gut.
This study suggests that replacing proteins with carbs can change the population of the gut bacteria, which is known as the microbiome.
Dr Noel Mueller, study co-author, said:
“It’s possible that in this study, the protein-rich version of the diet caused more bloating because it caused more of a healthy shift in the composition of the microbiome.”
“Notably, the protein in these diets was mostly from vegetable sources such as beans, legumes, and nuts.”
Bloating is a common symptom of gastrointestinal disorder affecting 1 in 5 American adults.
Mueller and colleagues previously found that cutting back on salt can reduce bloating.
The present study used three versions of high-fibre diets consisting of high-fibre, low-sodium “DASH” diets.
One was a protein-rich diet, the other carbohydrate-rich and the third a high-fibre diet rich in unsaturated fat.
The plant-protein-rich version consisted of 48 percent carbs, 27 percent fat, and 25 percent protein.
The carbohydrate-rich version consisted of 58 percent carbohydrate, 27 percent fat, and 15 percent protein.
The fat-rich version consisted of 48 percent carbohydrate, 37 percent fat, and 15 percent protein.
The protein-rich diet increased the likelihood of bloating by 40 percent compared to the carb-rich diet.
Therefore, foods such as wholegrains that are higher in carbs than proteins might be more tolerable to digest.
But the downside of substituting proteins for carbohydrates is the possibility of eating less healthy foods.
Dr Mueller said:
“Bloating may be just a consequence of a healthy shift in the microbiome, so that if somebody is able to put up with the bloating caused by a high-protein, high-fiber diet, they may ultimately benefit more in other health measures.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology (Zhang et al., 2020).