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Most Americans fall short of reaching the daily recommendation to consume five servings of vegetables a day. In fact, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showed that only 1 in 10 adults consumed the recommended amount. Vegetables are loaded with nutrients and have been touted to help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It’s important to fill up on nutrient-rich vegetables, but there are times when you may need to cut back or avoid them.

Vegetables are a dieter’s “go to” because they promote a feeling of fullness and add minimal calories, aiding in weight loss. The downside is that they can cause gas and bloating. Vegetables contain fiber that doesn’t break down easily and may cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Some vegetables may “agree” with your body more than others; it’s just a matter of trial and error.

Vegetables contain hundreds of plant compounds and are loaded with nutrients to support positive health. Oxalates are just an example of one type of compound found in vegetables like leafy greens, nuts and potatoes. Oxalates bind to minerals, which can reduce the absorption of nutrients in the intestines, cause painful bowel movements or urination, mood changes or skin problems. Oxalates can also bind to calcium, which can increase the risk of kidney stones. If you are prone to kidney stones or have kidney disease, your doctor may recommend a low-oxalate diet.

Studies show that an increased vegetable intake reduces oxidative stress and inflammation for both adolescents and adults. Oxidative stress is an excess of free radicals in the body that can cause damage to cells and proteins. However, at times, certain medical conditions can also initiate a need for reduced vegetable intake.

Individuals with Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome may need to avoid high-fiber vegetables during flare-ups. Low-fiber foods may help calm the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Individuals with kidney disease may need to avoid vegetables that are high in potassium such as potatoes, mushrooms and brussels sprouts because the body is unable to remove the excess potassium from the bloodstream. Heartburn sufferers may want to avoid tomatoes due to the acidity that can cause symptoms of heartburn or cause reflux to get worse.

Eating healthily involves adding a variety of foods to your daily intake, including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, healthy fats and lean proteins. It also means knowing how your body responds to certain foods and consuming foods that support your personal health and well-being. Experts suggest tracking how you feel after consuming these foods. Reducing or eliminating that specific food from your diet is recommended if you recognize a negative response pattern. Replace those irritating foods with a food that is more supportive.

Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. You can be reached at or (803) 773-1404.

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