Bloat is a common problem that can affect anyone, at any age. Whether you’re pregnant, nursing, or have a lot of water retention, there are certain foods and drinks that can cause your body to swell up. In this article, we’ll list the top foods and drinks that cause bloat and tell you how to avoid them.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are classified as legumes. They are one of the most common culprits of bloat. The reason they cause bloating is that they contain a high level of a gas-forming compound called raffinose. Raffinose is an oligosaccharide that is not digested in the small intestine. Instead, it is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine to produce gas. To minimize bloating from eating legumes, make sure to soak them overnight before cooking, and then cooking them properly.
People who are lactose intolerant will experience bloating from dairy products. This is due to the inability to break down a sugar called lactose which is found in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, stay away from products like cheese, milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
Carbonated beverages, including beer, contain an infusion of carbon dioxide gas. When you drink these products, carbon dioxide is released in the stomach, making you feel bloated. Consume these products in moderation to avoid feeling bloated.
High Fiber Foods
Consuming too much fiber can increase the number of fermentable substrates for gas-producing bacteria in the gut and disrupt the overall gut biome balance resulting in bloat. Avoid consuming too much fiber or increasing your fiber intake too rapidly. If you are on a high-fiber diet, consuming adequate water throughout the day will minimize bloating. You should also vary your fiber intake to maintain a healthy balance of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
As with legumes, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are high in raffinose. Raffinose cannot be digested by humans due to the absence of the raffinase enzyme in our digestive tract. Cooking these vegetables before eating them, can help to reduce bloating.
Sodium has been found to trap water in the gut, making you feel bloated. We often get much more sodium than we need. Watching how much salt you add to your food. Reducing the consumption of fast foods will also help since they are usually packed with salt.
Onion and Garlic
Onions and garlic contain hard-to-digest carbohydrates including raffinose and fructans. These ferment in the gut, causing gas. Cooking your onions and garlic may reduce gas effects.
Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, aspartame, and sucralose cause bloating because they are not recognized by enzymes in the digestive tract. They go to the gut where they are fermented by gas-producing bacteria. Cut these out or reduce these artificial ingredients in your diet to avoid feeling bloated.
General Tips to Reduce Bloating
- Increase fiber gradually instead of suddenly
- Drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day
- Cook high-fiber foods properly
- Cut out, or have in moderation all bloat-causing foods and ingredients
- Check for lactose intolerance
- Practice habits that will support good bowel movements e.g., regular exercise, adequate water consumption, and consuming adequate fiber
- Reduce salt intake
- Avoid practices that make you swallow more air, e.g., chewing gum, eating and talking, eating too fast, drinking with a straw, and drinking carbonated beverages