Contributed by: Healthians Team
Let’s begin with understanding what bloating is.
Bloating is one of the most uncomfortable and unfortunately widespread medical conditions. However, it can be prevented, provided it’s not due to a serious illness.
Nowadays, almost everyone experiences bloating from time to time and is usually not a major cause for concern.
According to NIH, it is a feeling of unusual fullness and distended belly as a result of excessive gas trapped in the gut due to swallowing air or eating certain foods.
Gas is a normal outcome of the digestion process. Everybody has it.
Although it’s a bit embarrassing sometimes, the truth is no one can avoid it. In fact, burping and flatulence help to relieve the build-up of gas and air in the gut.
Here are some common symptoms of gas:
- Flatulence (passing gas)
- Stomach ache
- Belching or burping
Occasionally, after meals, these symptoms are usually experienced by most people. Your diet is often to blame for belly bloating.
If you feel gassy or bloated all the time, here are some food tips and dietary habits!
Worst foods for bloating
Milk and milk products
Dairy products are rich in lactose (milk sugar). Did you know that almost 65% of individuals worldwide are not able to digest lactose sugar properly?
If you are one of the lactose intolerant adults (who lack the lactase enzyme, required for breaking down lactose), you can have major digestive problems.
Therefore, you can substitute your regular milk intake with lactose-free dairy milk, coconut milk, almond, soy or rice milk etc.
Beans or lentils are also well-known triggers for bloating and gas as they contain two main fibres that are tough to digest and may result in bloating.
Instead, you can have plant-based proteins that are easy to digest such as tofu, soybeans, grains, quinoa etc.
Here is a tip: Soaking or sprouting the lentils before eating makes them easier to digest!
Since carbonated beverages contain high amounts of carbon dioxide gas, they can make you feel gassy and bloated.
However, it is not necessary that everyone experiences the same but individuals with underlying medical conditions such as hypersensitive stomach, dyspepsia or IBS etc. are more likely to have a bloated belly.
You can replace carbonated beverages with hot or iced ginger tea or peppermint tea, coffee, and fruit-flavoured still water.
Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc.) are rich in fibres, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium.
Since they contain FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), which are poorly absorbed by the intestine, they may cause bloating in some individuals.
Excessive intake of these veggies can cause gas to build up, leading to bloating or other digestive discomforts.
Instead of that, try including spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes, zucchini or fresh herbs, spices, parsley, basil etc.
Here is a tip- Cooking these veggies may make them easier to digest!
Artificial sweeteners and sugars
It is in trend these days that people opt for artificial sweeteners or packed sugar-free food, in order to cut excessive calories.
But the fact is, the sugar alcohol used to replace the sugar in sugar-free food contains sweet-tasting indigestible compounds which are tough to digest; and tend to cause digestive discomforts such as bloating, gas, and even at times, diarrhoea.
Instead of artificial sweeteners, you can switch to stevia (refined sugar) which is a healthy alternative to sugar.
Here is a tip- Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners to keep your tummy trim and bloat free!
Best foods for bloating
Cucumber comprises 95% of water, which makes it quite beneficial for relieving bloating.
Just as cucumber reduces the puffiness under the eyes, it also prevents water retention and reduces dehydration-induced bloating, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can slice it up and eat it as it is, this can help reduce swelling in your stomach.
Fruits containing potassium like bananas, avocado, kiwis, pistachio etc. prevent water retention and can help reduce bloating caused due to excessive salt intake.
Other than this benefit, bananas also contain soluble fibre which can relieve or prevent constipation. Thus, bananas can also be beneficial for bloating caused by constipation.
Although the studies have produced conflicting results, yet, the advent of genetic testing is a great predictive health tool to ascertain your predisposition towards certain foods; that can have a positive or negative impact, depending from person to person.
Yoghurt can help prevent bloating. As yoghurt is rich in probiotics (good bacteria), it helps regulate digestion and improves overall GI health.
So, it is suggested to have probiotic-rich foods, especially the ones with no added sugar, because added sugars may also contribute to bloating.
You can take also probiotic supplements for breakfast with a little topping of honey on it.
Fennel seeds (saunf)
We Indians are food lovers and our love for fennel as post-meal refreshment is well known.
According to nutritionists, Fennel seeds contain essential oils that stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes that improve digestion and relaxes GI spasm.
Fennel seeds work magnificently for indigestion and bloating.
You can have fennel seeds directly by chewing them or can have a sip of fennel tea post-meal.
Ginger is a herb, rich in digestive enzymes and thus helps in soothing digestive distress.
It has the ability to break down the proteins efficiently in the digestive tract and supports a healthy digestive system.
So, if you feel bloated or have a feeling of fullness and do not want to eat- sipping a cup of ginger tea will be helpful.
What you eat and drink can significantly increase the risk of getting bloated as well as developing other digestive issues.
What causes one person to bloat won’t always make another person bloat. It’s all about figuring out the triggers that may contribute to belly bloat.
If you have any concerns about what to eat and what not to eat, speak to your nutritionist.
As an add-on, make a habit of taking preventive health checkups as they can help you in getting a complete insight into your health. This will also help you with taking measures to promote your overall well-being.