Eating more vegetables should be a main focus of your healthy-eating plan. This can be a tough task to accomplish if gas pains occur every time you nibble on raw vegetables. If gas is a common occurrence after snacking on vegetables, making some adjustments in your diet and certain preparation methods can minimize symptoms.
Raw vegetables are full of fiber, which is highly beneficial for improving regularity and minimizing constipation. Some types of fiber can cause gastrointestinal issues, however. For example, lignin fiber leads to constipation in some people, which may be associated with gas. Cooking minimally affects the total fiber content of vegetables, but a short steam or quick blanch in hot water softens many of those tough fibrous strands, making them easier for your body to process. So heat up the vegetable if it leaves you gassy when you it eat it in its raw state, to see if that eliminates the problem.
Many types of vegetables are rich in complex carbohydrates, such as oligosaccharides, that are difficult for the body to digest. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, cabbage and artichokes are some of the leading gas-causing offenders that contain various types of hard-to-digest carbohydrates. Some of these complex carbs change structure or get broken down during cooking. This is why raw broccoli may cause gas, while cooked broccoli might not have the same effect, for example.
Eating Too Quickly
Complex carbohydrates start breaking down as soon as you chew. When you quickly gobble up your plate of greens, however, those carbohydrates might not get broken down properly. This may leave you gassy as your digestive tract struggles with the large molecules. Fiber also relies on plenty of water in the digestive tract to work. If you rapidly eat high-fiber raw vegetables, you might not be sipping enough fluid as you eat, further upping your chances of having gas. Take your time when you eat and take a sip of water between bites to help prevent flatulence.
Foodborne illness could occur if you don’t thoroughly wash your vegetables. Fecal matter from infected animals in fields, germs spread by insects or bacteria from soil, are all sources of contamination. Escherichia coli, or E. coli, and salmonella are just some of the organisms raw vegetables can carry that make you sick. If your episode of flatulence is followed by diarrhea, vomiting, fever or nausea, you may have a foodborne illness. You’ll need to see your health care professional right away if these problems ensue.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Elmhurst College: Cellulose
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: The Digestive System and How It Works
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- Journal of Food Science: Effect of Cooking on Vegetable Fiber
- Scientific American: Fact or Fiction: Raw Veggies are Healthier than Cooked Ones
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know
- Colonic Microbiota, Nutrition and Health; Glenn R. Gibson and Marcel B. Roberfroid