Ever feel the need to unbutton your pants post-meal? Then you’re acquainted with bloat. Bloating is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of, but it can be super uncomfortable and painful. Knowing what foods cause bloating can help you steer clear of extra puffiness and discomfort, and help manage symptoms. If you have trouble with bloating, we’ve rounded up 7 foods that cause bloating and what to eat instead, so you can evaluate your diet and feel better when you eat.
What is Bloating?
Bloating is the feeling that your stomach is tight, full and larger than normal after you eat. This tightness can make your stomach appear larger and your clothes feel tighter. It happens when the organs in your digestive system are stretched, which is typically due to liquids, solids, or gasses built up in part of your gut. When you’re bloated, you feel like you’ve eaten a huge meal and that there’s no more room in your stomach. It can be uncomfortable and painful and you may also burp frequently or have abdominal rumbling or gurgling.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating typically occurs due to excess intestinal gas. Gas can build up in your gut when you eat a lot of salty foods and carbs, swallow a lot of air when you eat too fast, or drink a lot of fizzy drinks. If you get bloated after eating, it could be a digestive issue.
Bloating can also be triggered by hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle, dehydration or loading up on salty foods. This is called water bloat, and if you eat a lot of packaged foods, fast foods or takeout, there’s a good chance you’re consuming too much sodium, which can lead to extra bloat.
Bloating may be as simple as eating too much too fast, or you could have a food intolerance that causes gas to build up. Some foods produce more gas than others, so if you have problems with bloating, it could be helpful to assess and switch up your diet.
7 Foods That Cause Bloating
Beans are one of the top bloat-causing foods as they’re high in carbohydrates, and sugars called oligosaccharides. These sugars don’t digest easily. Most beans also contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs. These carbs escape digestion and are fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. For anyone with IBS, excess gas is formed, which can cause major discomfort and bloating. Since beans are part of a healthy diet and full of fibre and nutrients, try soaking them and reducing your portion size to reduce bloating and gas.
Lentils are highly nutritious, containing fibre, protein, carbs and important minerals, but due to their high fibre content, they cause bloating in some people. They also contain FODMAPs, which contribute to excess gas and bloating, especially in people with IBS. Soaking or sprouting lentils before you eat them can make them easier on your digestive system. Also, combining them with easily digestible whole grains like rice or quinoa and drinking lots of water will help get your body used to fibre-rich foods and reduce your symptoms.
3. Salty Foods
High-sodium foods can trigger water retention, which makes you bloat. The solution isn’t as easy as putting down the salt shaker, though. Sodium is high in most packaged and processed foods including soups, sauces, bread, pizza, cold cuts, processed cheese and frozen meals. Check nutrition labels and avoid high-sodium foods as much as possible to limit your sodium intake and reduce bloating.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cabbage contain raffinose, a sugar that produces gas and makes you bloat. Although these veggies contribute to bloating, they’re still an important part of your diet as they’re nutrient-rich high-fibre foods. To help with digestion, try steaming the vegetables. This will soften the fibre and shrink the portion, so it takes up less space in the gastrointestinal tract.
People who are lactose intolerant lack necessary enzymes to break down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). When this occurs, it can cause gas to form in the GI tract, causing bloating. If you’re lactose intolerant, steer clear of dairy products like milk, cheese, ice cream, cream cheese and butter. Fortunately, there are a ton of milk alternatives today including coconut, almond, soy and oat milk.
6. Wheat, Rye and Barley
These grains are packed with fibre, but contain high amounts of insoluble fibre, which doesn’t break down well during the digestive process. Foods that don’t digest easily typically end up fermenting in your gut, which builds up gasses and leads to bloating. All of these also contain gluten, a protein that can lead to digestive issues and bloating, especially if you’re sensitive or intolerant to gluten.
7. Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are packed with soluble fibres called fructans. The body doesn’t easily digest fructans, which can lead to a number of digestive issues, including bloating. Raw onions typically create more issues than cooked ones, so try sauteéing your onions. You can also use onion powder.
5 Foods That Help With Bloating
Avocados are a great source of antioxidants and bloat-reducing potassium. They’re highly nutritious and can improve your gut health and combat bloat by breaking down fibre and reducing bile acids.
Yogurt is chock full of probiotics, a type of good bacteria that’s super beneficial for your gut. Probiotics are amazing for gut health and are known to reduce bloating and digestive discomfort caused by conditions like IBS.
Ginger is high in anti-inflammatory properties that work to combat bloat and gas. It contains a digestive enzyme called zingibain, which helps the body break down protein. Ginger has an overall soothing effect on the digestive system and has a relaxing effect on your intestines, reducing inflammation in your colon.
Potassium is one of the best minerals to help with bloat, and bananas are packed with it. Part of what causes your body to retain water is that you’ve eaten too much sodium, and potassium-rich foods help flush out sodium and water, helping to get rid of bloat.
Asparagus contains an amino acid called asparagine, a diuretic that helps reduce water retention. Asparagus also contains probiotic fibre, which nourishes probiotics in your gut and keeps your digestive tract running.
If you get bloated easily, try cutting out or limiting bloat-causing foods and eating the foods above instead.
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