Ah, the NutriBlast: that glorious concoction that fills your belly with extracted vitamins and minerals and nourishes your entire body. As you know by now, NutriBlasts can pack in far more servings of whole fruits and vegetables than we can eat alone, making them an excellent addition to any diet.
There may, however, be some drawbacks when it comes to drinking down so much produce. Bloating can be an issue for NutriBlasters, especially for digestive systems unaccustomed to the high water and fiber content of fresh fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, certain fruits and vegetables contain compounds that are notorious for their tummy-puffing properties.
But don’t throw out your NutriBullet just yet! The nutritional benefits of NutriBlasting far outweigh this minor digestive problem; don’t give up if you find your belly temporarily enlarged or gassy after downing one. Consult this list of common bloating culprits and remedies to beat the bloat and continue on your path to optimal nutrition.
While it won’t cause gas, sodium does retain water, which can lead to a bloated belly. Fortunately, the majority of fruits and vegetables in their natural state do not contain high levels of sodium like most processed foods. However, there are a few foods that are naturally high in sodium, including saltwater seaweed (wakame), Swiss chard, and some other leafy greens like beet, collard, dandelion, mustard and turnip greens. Though you won’t be including them in your NutriBlasts, pickled and canned vegetables contain considerably higher levels of sodium than their fresh counterparts due to the addition of salt as a preservative in the pickling/canning process.
Choose fresh produce when possible. If you must purchase frozen or canned be sure to choose low or reduced sodium options and rinse before consuming. Sodium isn’t always a bad thing. It is an electrolyte necessary for cell function, but excessive amounts will bloat the belly.
In general, raw vegetables may be difficult to digest for some. Those who eat a Standard American Diet (SAD) of processed, fatty and refined foods may find they lack the digestive enzymes necessary to break down the fibrous cellular walls found in raw fruits and vegetables.
Begin by incorporating more lightly cooked vegetables into your diet in order to “re-stock” your nutrient pool and introduce your digestive tract to veggie content. Once you become adapted to more fibrous plant-foods, your body will be able to properly digest most produce.
Another option is to consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement prior to meals. Be sure to consult with a professional before deciding on this remedy, as your digestive problems may be the result of a deeper issue, such as fructose or protein malabsorption, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, all of which require specific treatment.
Be cautious when adding too many high sugar ingredients to your NutriBlast. Even though dates, fruits and natural syrups (honey, molasses, maple syrup) add some healthful nutrients, they are still sugars that will ferment and increase the chance of belly bloat.
Make sure to add plenty of low sugar vegetables to your NutriBlast to counter the high sugar ingredients. When choosing fruits and sweeteners, opt for lower sugar alternatives such as berries, avocado, and melon. The fiber in these fruits and vegetables will delay the sugar surge into your bloodstream, making it easier to manage hunger and insulin spikes.
It is not advisable to add sparkling water to your NutriBullet, but it's important to know that any carbonated drink outside of your daily NutriBlast will trap unwanted air in your stomach, leading to that dreaded pooch.
Instead, add healthful liquids in your NutriBlast. These could range from filtered water to green or herbal tea, to almond milk or another dairy alternative. Juice is not advised due to its high sugar content.
Proteins (casein) and sugars (lactose) found in milk, yogurt and cheese don’t agree with some people who are either allergic to dairy proteins or lack the necessary enzymes for lactose digestion. Lactose intolerance varies among populations: people of northern European origin, for example, show only a 2 percent prevalence, whereas Hispanics (50-80 percent), African Americans (60-80 percent), Asians (95 percent) and American Indians (80-100 percent) are quite a bit more intolerant.
Choose a non-dairy alternative such as almond milk, soymilk, hemp milk, oat milk, rice milk, or coconut milk beverage.
Apples and Pears
If you are not used to consuming large amounts of soluble fiber, these fruits may turn your tummy. Each contains about 4g of this cholesterol-lowering component, which may cause bloating in certain people.
Work up to a full apple or pear slowly so that your stomach becomes accustomed to the soluble fiber load. Add a quarter at first and then after a week or so, add a half. Eventually, you will be adding the whole fruit (but remember to remove the core and seeds!)
The bean’s gassy reputation comes from its oligosaccharide sugar content. The body cannot break down this sugar on its own and, instead, relies on bacteria in the large intestine to process and eliminate the compound. Gas is a byproduct of this bacterial process, and can lead to flatulence, cramps and bloating. In addition, canned beans contain a large amount of sodium that retains water and leads to bloating.
Thoroughly rinsing canned beans before eating can reduce the sugar and sodium content up to 40 percent. You can also sprout dry beans by soaking them in water. Sprouting basically “predigests” foods, making them easier on the digestive system.
When preparing dry beans, be sure to soak them overnight in 2-3 inches of water before cooking to release excess oligosaccharides. Do not cook with the soak water.
Finally, consider the freshness and size of the beans you’re preparing. Generally, the fresher and smaller your beans (think lentils and split peas), the fewer gastrointestinal problems you are likely to experience.
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
These cruciferous veggies contain a sugar called raffinose that (like the oligosaccharide in beans) goes undigested until it is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any known techniques that completely eliminate the gas produced by cruciferous veggies. To minimize unpleasant gassiness when eating these vegetables, start out slowly to see how your body reacts and try to combine them with foods that are less likely to cause bloating.
For All Foods:
When switching to a higher plant-based dietary plan, it is inevitable that you will start to feel more full on less food. While increasing your plant consumption is great for your health, the volume, fiber and water from these foods will inevitably lead to some bloating. To reduce symptoms and severity, keep your portions in check and stay hydrated. It sounds counterintuitive, but by drinking more water, you are less likely to retain water and will minimize gas and bloat.
Belly No-Bloat Boosters
In addition to the remedies listed above, here are some natural foods known for their digestive health properties.
- Peppermint – helps reduce bloating and indigestion and soothes the GI tract. Add some fresh mint leaves to your NutriBlast.
Try our CocoMint Mender!
- Apple Cider Vinegar - contains acetic acid, which aids in the digestion process, therefore reducing undigested foods that may feed bacteria and produce gas and bloating.
Also, try our Apple Cider Vinelixer!