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Increasing Healthy Carbohydrates May Alleviate Bloating From High Fiber, High Protein Diet

A high fiber diet may provide a number of health benefits, including improving cholesterol levels and promoting a healthy gut. Eating more fiber may also help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full and reducing the chance of overeating. However, many people experience an increase in gas and bloating when consuming a high fiber diet combined with high protein. A new study found that a high fiber diet may be less likely to cause bloating if some of the protein or unsaturated fats is replaced with additional carbohydrates.

Data was used from a study that included included 164 people with an average age of 53. They underwent 3 dietary interventions for 6 weeks. Each intervention was separated by a 2-week washout period. The 3 dietary interventions were different versions of the high-fiber OmniHeart diet (which provides 30 grams of fiber daily):

  1. A carbohydrate-rich diet that provided 58% of calories as carbohydrate, 15% as protein, and 27% as fat;
  2. A protein-rich diet with 10% of calories from carbohydrate replaced by protein (48% carbohydrate, 25% protein, and 27% fat);
  3. An unsaturated fat diet with 10% of calories from carbohydrate replaced by unsaturated fat (48% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 37% fat).

The participants filled out a symptom checklist that asked questions about feeling bloated at the beginning of each dietary intervention and during the last week of each intervention.

Bloating symptoms were reported by 24% of participants at the end of the carbohydrate-rich diet, by 33% at the end of the protein-rich diet, and by 30% at the end of the unsaturated fat-rich diet. The protein-rich and unsaturated fat-rich diets significantly increased the risk of bloating, while the carbohydrate-rich diet did not. The highest increase in bloating was seen when protein was substituted for carbohydrates.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It was published in the January 2020 edition of the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology.

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