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Maybe you've been leaning heavily toward healthier, plant-based foods that are higher in fiber—like vegetables, beans, and whole grains—and you're seeing benefits like more energy and changing body composition. But there's one side effect you may not appreciate: increased flatulence. © Provided by Eat This, Not That! healthy gut
Turns out, that may actually be a sign that your gut bacteria is happy with your diet changes, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.
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Researchers recruited 18 healthy, adult male volunteers and had them eat a Western-style diet high in processed carbs and low in fiber for two weeks. Then, they switched to a plant-based Mediterranean diet for the next two weeks.
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In assessing effects on stool and gas, the change to a high-fiber, plant-based diet produced significant indications that gut health had changed. Participants had double the stool size and about 50% more gas, and researchers concluded this was due to a huge increase in the mass of beneficial bacterial growth in the digestive system. © Shutterstock Fruits and veggies
With more plant material in the gut, the bacteria kicked off more fermentation, and that gas buildup turned into flatulence.
Gallery: Popular American Foods That Are Making Your Inflammation Worse (Eat This, Not That!)
Popular American Foods That Are Making Your Inflammation Worse
The word "inflammation" and the phrase "inflammatory foods" are currently buzzing like bees all around us in the health and wellness world. But what exactly does inflammation look like in your body and how can certain foods either help or hinder it?
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Simply put, not all inflammation is bad. In fact, it's critical to our health and wellbeing, as it's a natural part of the body's defense system that encompasses a critical cascade of reactions that work to fight off disease and protect us from injury. Think of when you get a cut on your leg and it gets red and swollen. That's a sign that your body is releasing an inflammatory response to that area, which alerts your immune system to begin the healing process.
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How can diet choices cause inflammation?
However, when it comes to food and nutrition, certain lifestyle habits and diets can either precipitate or prevent overall inflammation in our bodies. For example, you may be sensitive to certain foods, and that can trigger signals that something foreign has entered your system. This type of inflammation can oftentimes be uncomfortable and even debilitating for some people and can manifest in different ways both inside and outside of our bodies. Common symptoms range from redness, swelling, rashes, and pain, to gastrointestinal distress, headaches, fatigue, and more.
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Our modern food supply in this country is laden with packaged processed foods that are typically high in added sugar and devoid of nutrients. Pair a junky diet with a sedentary lifestyle and an abundance of stress and it's no wonder that, over time, our bodies progress into a state of chronic inflammation that can cause a metabolic storm and make us sick.
With the help of fellow registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Robin Barrie Kaiden MS, RD, CDN, of Robin Barrie Nutrition, here are five examples of popular foods in the American diet that are common culprits for initiating—or aggravating—inflammation in our bodies.
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1. Sugary foods
Let's set the record straight—the American diet screams sugar. Research shows that a high-sugar Western diet wreaks havoc on many systems in our body and is evidenced by insulin resistance and increased inflammatory markers. If you take a walk through just about any supermarket in this country, you'll be bombarded with aisles of boxed and bagged cookies, crackers, chips, colorful cereals, candy, and loaves of bread that can last on a shelf for months.
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"Many snack foods use words like 'organic' and 'natural' and present themselves in a healthy package," Kaiden adds. "One look at the ingredient list tells a different story."
It makes sense: they're convenient and they appear healthy, so we continue to buy them even though they're actually secretly packed in added sugars.
2. Refined grain
This example falls into a similar category as sugar due to a diet with an abundance of processed foods, many of them comprised of refined grains. The prevalence of refined grains in our diet may explain why so many people become intolerant to wheat or all gluten which is a protein found in certain grains. Studies show that a diet rich in whole grains, as opposed to one that's full of refined grains, can reduce systemic inflammation.
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3. Fried foods
Fried foods are like a double whammy when it comes to promoting inflammation, as these foods are typically covered in white flour breading and then deep-fried. Studies show that fried foods can impact glucose management and prompt systemic inflammation. There is also significant evidence that suggests the chemical alteration that occurs to food when it's fried can aggravate symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's.
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5. Vegetable oils.
"Not all oils are created equal," says Kaiden. "In fact, most products on the shelves like bottled salad dressings are made with safflower, sunflower, grape, vegetable, or soy oils."
These oils have a higher omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio and, although the research is mixed, some evidence suggests the omega-6, polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid promotes oxidative stress and chronic inflammation—especially when consumed in the form of vegetable oils. Kaiden adds that vegetable oils "are mostly processed from their plant sources using chemicals, making them even more inflammatory."
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As always, look at the big picture when it comes to your lifestyle and diet. The most significant improvements in inflammation and overall health will come from adjusting your habits instead of focusing on singular foods. If you suspect you are intolerant to specific foods, consider speaking to a medical doctor to help you identify whether or not you are actually sensitive to certain foods.
For more, be sure to check out The #1 Best Nut to Eat to Reduce Inflammation, Says Dietitian. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter.
Another study, in the journal mSystems, confirms that it doesn't take long to see changes in gut bacteria composition when switching to a high-fiber diet. In that research, which used mainly unprocessed, high-fiber foods, participants had considerable and beneficial bacteria shifts in only about two weeks, similar to the recent study.
But, as the research on gassy effects suggests, the body may go through a transition period as it attempts to adjust. This is very common, according to Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, and author of "The Bloated Belly Whisperer."
"When you add a lot of healthy options to your diet, especially with fiber, it can cause digestive issues if you try to do too much, too soon," she says. That can lead to gas, bloating, discomfort, and sometimes even abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Your body will adjust over time, she adds, but it's better to ramp up slowly to prevent these issues.
As you pivot toward healthy foods, Freuman says it's helpful to focus mainly on whole foods and integrate processed foods more slowly. That's because choices like nut flours, bean pastas, and cauliflower pizza crusts can increase your fiber intake significantly.
When you begin to have issues such as flatulence, it may be a sign that your gut health is getting on track—but it's also an indication you might need to dial back the fiber a bit so your body has time to adjust.
For more, don't miss 19 Foods That Cause Bloating And Gut Discomfort. Then don't forget to sign up for our newsletter!
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This "Beyond Comfortable" Cooling Dress Can Be Worn 5 Different Ways .
Shoppers are getting “lots of compliments.” Reviewers, who call the dress "beyond comfortable" and "wearable for practically every occasion" are understandably stoked. "I absolutely love this dress!" wrote one buyer. "Got it in black and wore it to two different events — two different ways. I got a lot of compliments on both occasions. This dress is light, very comfortable, doesn't wrinkle, and is super flattering. What else could I ask for?" "It seems to look equally good from all angles," wrote another.