Medical Q&As

Noisy tummy - due to diet?

I have decided to start eating a healthier diet and have started to eat more fruit and vegetables. My problem is that my tummy is very noisy and that embarrasses me. Why is this happening? Could it be the fruit and vegetables?

It is very likely that the current noises you are experiencing in your tummy are from the recent change in diet. However, none of what you describe is in any way harmful and I would like to endorse the steps you have taken and encourage you to continue. Most Irish people do not eat sufficient amounts of fruit, vegetables and cereals. These foods contain vitamins, minerals and other trace elements that are now thought to play a very important role in the prevention of cancer and ischaemic heart disease. These foods are also rich in fibre, which is the non-digestible cellulose based material that remains in the gut after most of the nutrients have been extracted by digestion. The fibre moves though the intestines along with other non-digestible elements such as complex carbohydrates. These latter compounds are forms of starch that the stomach and duodenum cannot fully digest but they are subjected to a process of fermentation in the colon. The normal bacterial fauna of the gut initiates this process but the fermentation process produces extra gas as a by-product. Therefore your colon now contains a greater bulk of material in the form of fibre and is further distended with the gas that arises from bacterial fermentation. That is the reason why your tummy is now noisier. Perhaps you have changed your diet quite dramatically and your system is unaccustomed to the large amounts of fruit and vegetables that you are currently eating. Maybe if you cut back a little and introduce additional amounts of fruit and vegetables more gradually you may find that your tummy will be less noisy. Also remember to drink more water because that also helps regular functioning of the bowel. As a general rule of thumb it is suggested that people should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday. If you are not near that target then you should build up to it by degrees and in that way can reduce the production of embarrassing noises. You have to allow your digestive system and colon to adjust to change gradually.