Bloating can result from a number of different stressors. Primarily we experience it now and then and those of us in tune to our bodies will know the aggressors; what to eat and what to avoid in order to stay the right side of our jeans button. I for one, am guilty of unashamedly popping that top button when I’ve eaten too much, but what about when you’ve eaten nothing ‘bad’ and you’re still feeling like Mrs. Puff from Spongebob Squarepants? How do you prevent or stop bloating altogether?
What Causes Bloating?
The day after can sometimes be more telling than the day you consume those nasty bloat inducing food or drinks. For example if you drink alcohol, you may be familiar with the next day’s bloat. Often you’ll be too tipsy to be aware of the bloat happening at the time. Morning after bloat is caused by a buildup of gasses your body has generated from the food/drink consumed as well as any extra gas from the food or drink itself. Everyone is familiar with how gassy beer is, and sometimes that extra gas is too much for the body to expel resulting in it being trapped in the lower intestine which gives you that ‘inflated’ appearance. Highly acidic foods such as cheese, alcohol, and sugar are difficult to digest and your body fights harder to process them. Pro-inflammatory fats (trans fats, omega-6 fats, and saturated fats) found in foods such as bacon, salami, processed meats, and butter are linked to inflammation and even those foods which are deemed as healthy, especially omega-6 fats, when eaten in excess will result in bloating due to the imbalance.
Sometimes a raw food diet, or switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet high in raw vegetables, can result in more bloating than normal while your body adjusts to the new digestive challenges required.
But what if you don’t drink alcohol and eat like a Paleo god/goddess?
You think you eat well but are still doing a great job of mimicking The Michelin Man, even when you’ve been eating natural food all day, right? Sometimes a raw food diet, or switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet high in raw vegetables, can result in more bloating than normal while your body adjusts to the new digestive challenges required. The fibre structure of vegetables gets broken down during the cooking process, making them much easier to digest than raw.
High-fructose foods such as dried tomatoes and dried fruit, fresh fruit, and other sweet vegetables can result in gas, bloating, and diarrhea. A study from The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology1 found that when IBS sufferers were placed on a non-fructose diet they had a reduction in symptoms such as; belching, bloating, fullness, and diarrhea. Studies have also shown that high-fructose corn syrup may be associated with excess weight, especially around the middle.
Nuts such as pistachios and cashews contain chains of sugars called galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). Humans lack the enzymes to break the chains; therefore, they become food for gut bacteria. When the gut bacteria eat the undigested fibre in beans, lentils, and other legumes they produce gas. Shouldn’t be too much of a cause for us on the Paleo diet.
However allergies can also be to blame for gas and bloating – certain specific foods, such as egg, allergies aren’t as well publicised as lactose/gluten intolerances but are worth paying attention to or weeding out in an intolerance test if bloating is a serious cause for concern for you.
6 Foods to Stop Bloating
Sometimes it seems like you just can’t win but don’t worry, you are not alone. You will notice it more than anyone else and, aesthetics aside, here are some ways to use food to beat the bloat and get you feeling more streamlined in no time.
Personally I would say that since I started eating cucumber 5-6 times a week I have noticed a flatter stomach. Granted it is a combined effort of eliminating nearly all sugar from my diet, drinking more water, eating plenty of vegetables, and cutting down on alcohol but cucumber has remained the one constant that I eat almost daily. Cucumber contains quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant which reduces swelling hence why ladies place it over their eyes to reduce the puff. Also their high water content acts as a hydrator as we all know we should be drinking more water.
Celery also has a high water content, similar to cucumber, which acts as a detoxification system to help reduce water retention.
Drinking water may make you feel bloated temporarily as it can feel like an unnatural amount of liquids to take into your body at one time when you start to increase your water intake. In time however, your body will adjust to the new levels of hydration and you will look and feel better for it. As you drink water your body will release fluids and the water you have retained around your middle will disappear.
Steep a little fresh, raw ginger in some hot water to create a cleansing, warming drink that will relax your digestive muscles and help to reduce your bloat. Ginger is such an all round super star, we really should be including it in our weekly shops alongside other staples as it’s versatility is often overlooked. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory and helps eradicate nausea so whatever is upsetting your gut, it will work hard to help you.
Watermelon is 92% water and is a great source of potassium. Maintaining a balance between potassium and sodium is key to manage bloating and if you’re not aware of how much salt you are consuming, that could be to blame as well. Potassium helps to regulate electrolyte levels and adds to your overall hydration and reduces water retention. Toilet breaks may increase!
Herbs and Spices
Parsley, peppermint, rosemary, and turmeric. These flavoursome little bad boys are not just pretty faces; they all help with digestion and intestinal gas, so add some punch to your dishes and benefit from those belly flattening rewards.
Garlic and Onions
These sulfur-rich beauties are natural anti-inflammatories, as we touched on in a previous article ‘9 Foods to Fight Inflammation‘ and can easily be incorporated into daily meals whilst adding serious flavour – it’s a win win situation with these guys.
In sum, the rule of thumb when trying to reduce bloating is to stick to alkaline foods with plenty of green vegetables, lightly cooked if possible, lean protein, ensure you chew your food well and avoid too much chewing gum as this draws excess air into your body. You shouldn’t cut anything in particular but do try to cut back on the consumption of nuts, fruit, raw vegetables, acidic foods, sugar, alcohol, and table salt.
Do you suffer from bloat? Have you found that any of these foods have helped to alleviate your symptoms? We’d love to hear from you so why not leave a comment below?!
- Choi, et al. (2008). Fructose Intolerance in IBS and Utility of Fructose-Restricted Diet. In Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 42(3), 233-238. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18223504
- Schumacher , L.T. (N.D). 6 Foods That Fight Off Belly Bloat. In Fitness Magazine. Retrieved 3 February, 2016, from http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/tips/advice/foods-to-stop-bloating/?page=4
- Vaccariello, L. (N.D). The Worst Foods For Bloating. In Best Health Mag. Retrieved 3 February, 2016, from http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/healthy-eating/the-worst-foods-for-bloating?slide=2