Last Updated: September 20, 2019
Relieving bloating starts with identifying the foods that cause it then finding better alternatives — those that offer relief.
Bloating describes the sensation of your stomach being swollen or enlarged after eating. This is generally caused by the accumulation of excess gas in the intestines and is most commonly thought to be the result of undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances.
Bloating has been suggested to occur in up to 30% of the population on a regular basis. Although it can be a symptom of a more severe medical condition, it is much more likely a reaction of your gut to foods that don’t agree with you.
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Top 5 Foods Causing Bloating
Wheat has been a somewhat controversial topic of discussion in recent years, ultimately due it containing the protein gluten.
Some people are sensitive to gluten and are unable to digest it effectively. As a result, for these people, consuming gluten can lead to serious bloating, (not to mention a host of other digestive problems).
It is important to note that wheat is also a source of FODMAPs.
FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested by your intestines themselves. Rather, they are fermented by your healthy gut bacteria for energy. Unfortunately, during this fermentation process, your gut bacteria also produce gas, which can lead to bloating and discomfort.
It is estimated that up to around 30% of the population is sensitive to FODMAPs.
So, though certainly not the case for everyone, wheat can certainly promote bloating for those sensitive to gluten or FODMAPs.
Dairy products (think milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter) are typically high in calcium, protein, and very nutrient-dense. But they also contain a type of simple sugar known as “lactose”, which can cause bloating.
Lactose is broken down in the gut by an enzyme known as lactase, which is produced in the small intestine. After infancy, the vast majority of the population experience a significant drop in lactase which reduces their capacity to digest lactose.
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If you’re one of the people whose lactase levels have fallen off as you’ve gotten older, consuming dairy can lead to major digestive problems. These include bloating, distention, and digestive cramping.
Research suggests that up to 65% of the population is lactose intolerant to some degree.
It is important to note that the severity of the symptoms is dependent on the severity of the intolerance. Individuals with greater intolerance experience more severe digestive responses.
Onions are a bulb vegetable with a unique and powerful flavor. While their strong flavor leads most people to use onions in very small quantities, even small amounts of onions contain large amounts of fructans.
Fructans are a type of prebiotic — meaning a fiber that passes through the gut undigested. This slows down digestion and increases the release of sugars into the digestive tract.
As such, consuming fructans can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to excess gas production and bloating.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
These are some of the healthiest veggies on the planet. They contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals important to the healthy function of the body.
But they also contain a relatively high amount of FODMAPs. This can, again, lead to excess bloating.
While beans are an excellent food choice due to their high fiber content, high nutrient density, and high protein content, they also contain large amounts of FODMAPs.
As a result, for those individuals who have sensitive stomach bacteria (or, in some cases, mild irritable bowel syndrome), beans can lead to severe bloating and abdominal discomfort.
Top 5 Foods Relieving Bloating
Parsley is an herb that acts as a potent diuretic (meaning it increases fluid excretion) when consumed in moderate amounts.
As a result, eating parsley when you are bloating can speed up the digestion process by flushing your system of those proteins and fiber causing digestive issues.
It is important to note that, while effective, parsley can lead to loose stools and diarrhea if used excessively.
Bananas are extremely high in potassium, a mineral that can counteract the effects of sodium within the body.
If you have low potassium levels relative to your sodium levels, you are likely to retain more fluid in the gut because sodium holds on to water. This excess water in your gut can lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort.
The consumption of bananas can return your potassium levels back to normal, improving your ability to excrete fluid.
This then leads to noticeable reductions in digestive bloating.
Peppermint has long been lauded for its benefits for digestive health. Recent research is starting to put some teeth to those claims.
studies suggest that the consumption of peppermint can, in fact, lead to an increase in digestive motility.
Digestive motility describes the contractions of your small and large intestine that move food through your digestive tract.
Increasing digestive motility speeds up the digestive process, clearing the digestive system more quickly and relieving bloating.
Eating ginger has a host of digestive benefits — one of which relates to its role in improving your ability to digest complex compounds such as fiber and protein.
This is thought to be the result of a digestive enzyme found in ginger known as “zingibain”. Zingibain is known to promote the breakdown of fiber and protein molecules. This improved digestion has been shown to relieve bloating and discomfort after eating.
Pineapples are a fruit consisting mostly of water. As a result, pineapples have the capacity to flush the digestive system, removing fiber and other indigestible matter that may be causing bloating.
Additionally, pineapple is an excellent source of the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain plays an important role in aiding in the digestion of proteins.
Scientists theorize that by increasing bromelain consumption we can improve our digestion and help in relieving bloating.
Take Home Message
While bloating is unquestionably common, it is avoidable. Since bloating and abdominal swelling is commonly the result of food intolerances and allergies, relieving bloating is possible by avoiding common trigger foods. Additionally, adding foods to your diet that support the digestion of complex molecules, improve digestive motility, and reduce water retention, can help ease bloating symptoms further.
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