Beat the bloat with small diet changes
If you regularly feel uncomfortable and bloated after eating, it may be a good idea to investigate your diet. Bloating can be exacerbated by certain foods while other ingredients can help reduce the symptoms. Additionally, bloating can be a sign of sensitivities to certain foods. This blog explores common offenders as well as the best foods to help reduce bloating.
Food sensitivities can be a hidden cause of bloating. In fact, you may have mild to moderate levels of intolerance to certain food items and not be aware of it. Certain foods are known to sensitise the gut, therefore investigating your reaction to such foods can help you determine whether you have a particular sensitivity. These include:
- Dairy (see our detailed blog on dairy and health for more information)
- Citrus fruit
You can experiment by eliminating each food from your diet and seeing if it makes a difference. If removing a particular food from your diet reduces your bloating then you may have a sensitivity. You can also get tested for food intolerances.
In addition to food sensitivities, there are common offenders that are known to cause bloating:
- Broccoli, kale and cabbage contain raffinose, which is a sugar that remains undigested until healthy gut bacteria ferment it.
- Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas contain fibres and sugars that the body can’t absorb.
- Onions contain fructan, a soluble fibre that can cause bloating.
- Salty foods cause water retention, which can make you feel more bloated.
- Chewing gum causes us to eat air, which causes bloating.
- Fizzy drinks also increase the amount of air and gas in the gut.
- Alcoholic drinks contain sugar alcohol, which is poorly digested by the small intestine.
Avoiding the foods abovementioned can help reduce bloating. As for food sensitivities, it is worth experimenting to understand your own triggers.
Foods to include in your diet
Certain foods can help reduce bloating, therefore including them in your diet can make a difference and help relieve symptoms of bloating. Such foods include:
- Cucumber contains quercetin, an antioxidant that reduces swelling (which is one of the reasons they are used to reduce eye puffiness).
- Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps prevent water retention. Therefore they help counteract the effects of salt-induced bloating.
- Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which eases digestion.
- Ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain, which helps the digestive tract break down proteins and digest food more easily.
- Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut can increase the amount of friendly gut bacteria and therefore aid digestion.
- Asparagus helps flush excess water from the body and contains prebiotics, which help support the development of friendly gut bacteria.
- Fennel seeds are known to relax the gastrointestinal tract, which helps the digestion process and allows the passage of gas to relieve bloating.
- Peppermint also replaces the gastrointestinal tract to help ease bloating.
You can get an overview of your digestive health with our nutritional therapy plan or digestion & nutrition essentials plan. These include key health markers pertaining to your digestive health, including gluten and lactose intolerance. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms, you should consult your doctor.