Have we been misled?
Can veggies make you sick?
Life can be funny. Just a week ago, I shared my two cents on how to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. But over the weekend, I came across an article which made me rethink that.
The article: ‘Got digestive problems? Take it easy on the veggies’ began with familiar advice. It outlined that common conditions such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea or acid reflux do not respond well to vegetable consumption, comparing it to ‘rubbing a wire brush against an open wound’ .
Conventional wisdom and your doctor will almost always prescribe the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) for an upset stomach since these foods are easily digested.
So what? Most of this is common knowledge, you may say.
Here is where the article deserves merit. The reason why (some) vegetables are bad in times of digestive distress is that they are made of insoluble fiber, meaning they do not dissolve in water. Instead, they pass through your digestive system intact, but if your stomach is already irritated, they worsen your symptoms.
The following is a list of vegetables which contain insoluble fiber. Avoid them if your tummy is upset.
- Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, etc.)
- Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
- Green beans
- Kernel corn
- Bell peppers
- Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
- Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
What vegetables can you eat
Quite a few actually. The following vegetables contain soluble fiber and are easier on your gut. They are even known to reduce blood sugar spikes.
- Winter squash
- Summer squash (especially peeled)
- Starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes)
On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that digestive issues arise from a lack of acid in your stomach. Stomach acid plays an essential role in the digestion process by killing harmful bacteria and parasites ingested with food. If you are suffering from any of the conditions outlined in this article, it’s crucial that you increase your stomach acid, and avoid antacids such as Pepto Bismol which do the opposite of what they claim to do (see here).
My own experiment
As someone without a gallbladder, I take my digestive health seriously. This article was a much-needed reminder that I too, consumed more of the green leafy vegetables than was probably safe for my condition.
For now, I’ve decided to ditch my go-to greens: kale, swiss chard and broccoli, and double down on beets, potatoes, carrots and squash! Variety is key.
Try it out for yourself, and let me know if you notice a difference.
As always, pushing for health.
P.s. photo credit to my aunt in San Francisco. She says my uncle made this salad (though I have a hard time believing that….)
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IN THE FIRST INSTANCE