Most of us have experienced the feeling of being bloated and some people have to deal with it more often than others. There are a number of possible causes, but if you’re finding yourself frequently bloated, it might be a good idea to take a look at your diet. There are certain foods which can encourage bloating and others that may help to reduce it.
Worst Foods for Bloating
- Legumes: Legumes are notorious for their ability to cause gas. Beans, peas, lentils and soybeans are common culprits. They’re a great source of protein, but they also contain sugars and fibres which our bodies can’t absorb, which means they cause gas when they reach the large intestine. Combine legumes with easily digestible wholegrains, such as rice or quinoa, and your body will gradually become more used to them. Start with small portions to reduce your bloating, and you can gradually increase your serving size from there.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Cabbage, broccoli and kale are all cruciferous vegetables, which contain raffinose – a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it. This prolonged digestion process can produce gas which makes you bloat. However, it’s important not to give up your healthy greens. Just make sure you’re also getting plenty of fibre-rich foods. These will boost your digestive system, allowing it to cope better with cruciferous vegetables, reducing the amount you bloat.
- Apples: While apples are a great healthy snack, they contain high levels of fructose and sorbital – sugars which many people can’t tolerate. As with the above foods, they can be difficult for the body to digest, resulting in excess gas and that uncomfortable puffy feeling. For this reason, it’s best to eat apples in moderation. Fruits which can have a similar effect include pears, peaches, apricots and prunes.
- Salty Foods: High-sodium foods can trigger water retention. Reducing your salt intake can really help to limit this type of bloating, but it can be difficult to do because salt is present in so many foods. You’ll find it in most packaged foods, processed foods, soups and breads, to name a few. When you do consume salt, make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water to help flush it out.
Best Foods to Minimise Bloating
- Cucumber: Cucumber contains quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant which helps to reduce swelling. It also contains a lot of water, which helps to flush potentially gas-causing toxins from the body.
- Bananas: This fruit is rich in potassium, which helps to regulate sodium levels in the body. Eating bananas, therefore, can somewhat counteract the effects of salt-induced bloating. Bananas also contain soluble fibre, which can prevent or relieve constipation – another cause of bloating.
- Yogurt: Yogurts with probiotics bring good bacteria to your gut, helping to regulate digestion. This boost to the digestive system can reduce excess gas production over time.
- Tea: Certain types of tea, including chamomile tea and peppermint tea, can dissipate some of the excess gas which is making your stomach bloat, as well as improving digestion. Many people find that drinking tea generally eases several types of stomach pain or discomfort.
- Ginger: A natural anti-inflammatory, ginger relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, helping to soothe any problems with the digestive system which might be causing bloating. It also contain an enzyme which absorbs protein, reducing any puffiness caused specifically by protein. Easy ways to incorporate ginger into your diet include adding it to smoothies or homemade tea, or using it in salad dressings.
Often, the key to reducing bloating is to eat bloat-inducing foods in moderation and make sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients the digestive system needs to function at its best. Drink plenty of water every day, and avoid habits that encourage you to ingest too much air, such as chewing gum and using straws.
It’s also important to recognise when the bloating you’re experiencing is abnormal. If you feel bloated most days for three weeks, this should be discussed with your GP.
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