I feel so bloated! How many times have you heard yourself or people around you utter a similar phrase?
Most people have experienced bloating either due to gas or fluid retention at some point in their lives. Bloating can happen to both adults and children. According to Healthline, about 16-30% of people experience bloating regularly.
Although bloating can sometimes be associated with a serious medical condition, it is more likely to be the result of your diet.
What is bloating?
Bloating is when your belly feels full and tight due to gas retention somewhere in your digestive tract.
When you are bloated you feel as if you’ve eaten a big meal and there is no room in your stomach. Your abdomen (stomach) may also be swollen, hard, and painful.
In some cases, bloating can be severe. It tends to interfere with your ability to work and participate in social and recreational activities.
The most common cause of bloating is Gas. When you have increased levels of gas in your intestine it can lead to bloating.
Bloating and gas are usually tied to our food. What we eat, and how we eat it? But, other influential factors include;
- Swallowing air (happens when you chew gum or drink from a straw).
- Eating too fast.
- Overeating (eating too much).
- Fatty foods.
- Lactose intolerance (problems with dairy and dairy products)
- Menstruation (in some women).
- Bloating can also be as a result of an underlying medical condition such as;
- Infections (H.pylori infection which can lead to stomach ulcers).
- Inflammation (a condition known as Diverticulitis).
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
- Crohn’s disease.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Depression and Anxiety.
- Liver disease (abnormal buildup of fluid in your stomach or pelvis).
- Side effects to some drugs.
Which Foods Causes Bloating.
Foods that are difficult to digest cause bloating and gas. Some of the common food that can cause bloating are;
- Beans: Beans are very high in fiber. Also, they contain sugars that make digestion difficult resulting in bloating. However, the Mung and Adzuki beans are easy to digest. Therefore, they can serve as an alternative to regular beans.
On the other hand, if you love beans and it has to be on your diet, then it is better to consume it in small doses daily. Also, you can always soak the beans for a few minutes before cooking.
- Wheat: Wheat contains a protein called gluten that causes diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, and gas. Foods like pasta, bread, and other baked meals are rich in gluten.
Some people are sensitive to gluten as a result of a medical condition known as Celiac disease. Pure oats and wild rice are suitable alternatives to gluten and they will not cause bloating.
- Rye and Barley: Rye and barley are examples of cereal grains. Cereal grains are nutritious filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Rye and barley can cause bloating because of their high fiber and gluten content. Alternatively, you can opt for a gluten-free meal like oats and brown rice.
- Onions and Garlic: Fructans are soluble fibers present in onions and garlic. Onions and Garlic can cause bloating and other digestive issues even in small quantities due to the presence of Fructans.
Other foods that contain Fructans include leek, agave, wheat, and other gas-producing foods. People with existing allergies to garlic and onions increase their likelihood of bloating consuming them.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Examples of Cruciferous vegetables are cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts to name a few.
Although these foods are highly nutritious with lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They can eventually result in unwanted digestive symptoms like gas and bloating.
Cruciferous vegetables, when cooked, digest more easily. But you can as well replace them with other healthy and easy-to-digest vegetables such as spinach, carrots, ginger, and celery.
- Apples and Pears: These fruits are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that are good for the body. But they are also known to cause bloating and digestive problems.
They contain fructose which is fruit sugar and doesn’t digest easily. Pears also contain sorbitol which can cause bloating.
Cooked apples and pears are much easier to digest than fresh ones. Alternatively, you can opt for fruits like berries, citrus fruits, bananas, and grapes as they are less likely to cause bloating.
- Carbonated beverages: These are drinks like soda that have carbon dioxide gas in them to create the bubbles. When you take carbonated beverages all the gas goes to your digestive tract, thus, resulting in bloating.
Scientific studies have shown that overconsumption of these drinks can also result in other health issues like diabetes and obesity. A healthier alternative to carbonated beverages is Water (plain or flavored) or Tea (hot or cold) as they are as less likely to cause bloating.
- Dairy products: Dairy products like milk and cheese are excellent sources of calcium and protein. People who suffer from lactose intolerance can’t digest lactose which is the sugar in milk. Owing to this, dairy products can be a major cause of bloating, intestinal distress, and diarrhea.
Lactose-free milk (rice and soy milk) and cheese are healthier alternatives and can be easily purchased from the market.
- Artificial sweeteners: Sorbitol and Xylitol are common examples of artificial sweeteners that are used in sweet foods and beverages. Experts suggest that these products should be avoided because they provide no nutritional benefits for the body. These artificial sweeteners have also been linked with digestive problems such as bloating and gas.
Healthier alternatives to these non-nutritive sweeteners are honey, licorice, and coconut sugar.
- Alcoholic beverages: Alcohols are inflammatory substances. Drinking alcoholic beverages can lead to inflammations in the gastrointestinal lining.
One of the major causes of bloating and gas is sensitivity to yeast and fermentable carbohydrates.
Beer is a carbonated beverage which means that it has a high probability of irritating the gut. It is known to be rich in yeast and fermentable carbohydrates like wheat and barley.
A healthier alternative if you want to avoid bloating is Water or Tea. Although, alcohols such as wine and spirits can cause less bloating and gas than beer.
Experts have affirmed that many people experience bloating due to foods or beverages in their diets as opposed to having a severe medical condition.
Rather than cutting out every food that may cause bloating, you can simply pay attention to the foods that affect you. While some foods may cause bloating in one person, it may not affect another.
If avoiding certain foods doesn’t help with your bloating, it is best you see your doctor for a medical evaluation.
- The most common symptoms of bloating include;
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Gas or flatulence
- Belching and Burping
Note: We advise you to see a doctor immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms below alongside persistent bloating and gas.
- Constant and intense pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bloody stool
- Inability to eat or drink
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Faintness or passing out
- Rapid swelling of the abdomen or anywhere else in the body
Top Bloating Home Remedies You Should know.
Eating healthy and performing routine exercise are some of the most effective ways to prevent as well as reduce bloating. Below are some quick tips to help you control bloating in the comfort of your home.
- Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds are an ancient solution for trapped gas in the stomach. Chewing on a teaspoon of fennel seeds is a popular natural remedy for bloating. However, pregnant women and lactating mothers are advised to avoid fennel seeds due to health and safety reasons.
- Herbal Teas: Herbal teas aid digestion and are very good for reducing bloating and gas. Teas made from chamomile, ginger, peppermint, and anise are the most effective for bloating. Anise also acts as a mild laxative and should be used cautiously.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has a lot of useful health benefits. It also aids in the production of digestive enzymes. ACV is a great home remedy for treating bloating and gas. Just add one tablespoon of ACV to a glass of warm water and drink it before meals.
- Cucumber Water: Cucumbers are a natural diuretic. Cucumber water contains silica which removes the bloat from your body. Drinking cucumber water regularly is a great way to detoxify. Cucumber water is also a cheap quick and tasty way to both hydrate and control bloating.
- Clove Oil: Clove oil is used to treat digestion problems like bloating gas and indigestion. Clove oil has also been said to have ulcer fighting properties. For bloating, add 2-5 drops of clove oil to about 8 ounces of water and drink after meals
- Turmeric: Turmeric gets its color from a fat-soluble antioxidant called Curcumin. Turmeric is able to help relieve you of bloating quickly as a result of the Curcumin. Turmeric is often taken as a supplement, but it can be used as a spice for your food.
In Conclusion, while bloating and gas can be uncomfortable, it is not a reason to panic. Simply apply some of the tips highlighted in this article. Nevertheless, should you find yourself in severe pain or your bloating persists, see a doctor immediately.