Trendy low-carb diets are fuelling a rise in bloating

Trendy low-carb diets are fuelling a rise in bloating, diarrhoea and constipation among millennials because they are so low in fibre

  • Carbohydrates have fallen out of fashion among millennials, research suggests 
  • It has had the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of fibre young people eat 
  • Two thirds of millennials have experienced stomach problems within last year
  • This is compared to a third of British adults of all ages, according to a survey 
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Low-carb diets such as the Keto are fuelling a rise in stomach problems among younger people, nutrition experts have warned.

Carbohydrates have fallen out of fashion among millennials and the trend has had the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of fibre young people eat.

Fibre is vital for stomach health and is linked with lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and bowel cancer.

New research has found more than two thirds (67 per cent) of millennials have experienced stomach problems such as bloating, diarrhoea and constipation within the last year, compared to a third (33 per cent) of British adults of all ages.

Carbohydrates have fallen out of fashion among millennials and the trend has had the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of fibre young people eat (stock of a low carb meal)

More than half of millennials (55 per cent) with problems said they suffered symptoms at least once a week.

And three quarters of younger people with stomach problems said it impacted negatively on their mood and emotional wellbeing. 

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The Happy Gut Survey of 2,000 British adults was commissioned by breakfast cereal maker Kellogg’s.

It found while 55 per cent of people believed they met their recommended daily fibre intake, in fact just eight per cent of people met the NHS-recommended level of 30g per day.


The Ketogenic diet defines a low-carb, high-fat way of eating. 

Following this eating plan forces the body into a metabolic state, known as ketosis, which starves the body of carbohydrates but not calories.

Carbs are shunned in the keto diet as they cause the body to produce glucose, which is used as energy over fat.

Keto diets therefore lead to weight loss as they make the body burn fat as its primary energy source.

On the diet, followers can eat:

  • Meat
  • Leafy greens and most vegetables 
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocadoes and berries
  • Fats, such as coconut oil

People cannot eat:

  • Grains, including rice and wheat
  • Sugar, like honey and maple syrup
  • Most fruit
  • White or sweet potatoes 

Registered dietician Jo Travers, author of ‘The Low Fad Diet’, said: ‘The trend towards diets that restrict carbs, such as the millennial-favourite keto regime, also means considerably restricting fibre intake.

‘This is not only highly concerning for the increased risk of coronary diseases but also for the gut which needs dietary fibre to nourish its good bacteria.

‘With emerging bodies of research showing the impact the gut has on our overall health and emotional wellbeing, looking after it with nourishing fibre-rich foods is extremely important and carb-cutting is therefore ill-advised.’

Around one in six people aged 18 to 34 are on a low-carb diet and a third of millennials say they want to be on one, according to separate surveys by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) and Insider magazine.

Last month, a report for the World Health Organisation found eating fibre in ‘good’ carbohydrates like wholegrain bread, cereals and pasta, helped reduce the risk of heart disease and early death.

But researchers warned it would be difficult to ensure people were eating enough fibre because of the trend of ‘popular diets’ including the keto, Atkins and low-carb paleo diets, which all recommend cutting carbohydrates.

Around a quarter of all consumers believe eating carbs is directly linked to weight gain, according to the IFIC.

And last year, The Grocer magazine blamed the Millennial and Generation Z age groups for a drop in potato sales, saying they viewed the high-fibre vegetable as ‘stodge that will make them fat’.

Matt Perkins, nutritionist for Kellogg’s, said: ‘The most common issues with a diet lacking in fibre are the least glamorous. 

‘Symptoms such as sluggish bowels, constipation, and runny stools can all mean you’re not getting enough – making you feel lethargic and generally feeling miserable.’

The Government changed its fibre guidelines in 2015 to increase the recommended daily intake to 30g. 

The recommended amount for teenagers aged 11 to 16 is 25g, while children need 20g and preschool children aged two to five need around 15g.

But doctors believe most British adults eat just 18g of fibre every day, while teenagers and children get less than 15g per day.

Fibre is found in wholegrains and starchy foods like potatoes, as well as in fruit and vegetables.

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