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Managing Digestive Problems


To relieve constipation, it is generally helpful to add more fiber to the diet, while increasing fluids. Fiber is found in whole grains, beans, peas and legumes, and fruits and vegetables. A plant–based diet will likely contain sufficient fiber.


Recommended fiber intake for adults is 25 to 35 grams (or more) per day. It is important to remember to increase fluids while increasing fiber intake (recommended fluid intake is 8 to 10 cups per day).


In addition, physical activity may help relieve constipation.


Gas may initially be a problem when switching to a higher fiber diet. However, your body should adjust to your diet over time.


Here are some tips to ease problems with gas associated with eating beans:

  • After soaking dried beans, drain them, and then cook them in fresh water. It may also help to add a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water.
  • Make sure the beans are thoroughly cooked.
  • Drain and gently rinse canned beans. This also decreases the amount of salt in some brands.
  • People who eat beans regularly have little or no trouble digesting them, so start with smaller servings and work up to larger and more frequent servings.
  • Smaller beans are easier to digest for some people, so try black beans, black–eyed peas, and lentils, and work your way up to pinto and fava beans.
  • There are commercial enzyme products, such as Bean-zyme, that help in the digestion of complex carbohydrates. A few drops of Bean-zyme added to cooked beans right before eating them won't change the taste and may help in digestion.
  • Adding 2-4 inches of kombu (also known as sea kelp) to beans while cooking can help with digestion.


When experiencing problems with diarrhea, it can be very helpful to emphasize rice and well–cooked green, yellow, and orange vegetables, while avoiding dairy products. Small portions of nuts or nut butters, if tolerated well, may also slow down the gastrointestinal tract.