What is Bloating?
Each one of us has had a swollen belly or gaseous discomfort and tightness at some time or the other. Bloating refers to gas build up in the stomach and intestines which create an uncomfortable feeling, resulting in swelling of the abdomen and sometimes leading to pain. Undigested foods get fermented in the colon causing increased intestinal gas and flatulence that further result in bloating. Incomplete breakdown of complex carbohydrates such as gluten or certain sugars can also lead to production of gas in stomach resulting in a tightened belly. Swallowing air may also cause bloating along with burping. Releasing the gas relieves pain and discomfort. Bloating may also be related to stress or anxiety, smoking, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease and lactose intolerance.
Foods that Cause Bloating
What we eat has its impact on our digestion. Not all foods we consume get completely broken down into simpler products. Fatty foods, high-sodium diet, sugar alcohols, whole grains, eggs and milk products can be a reason for intestinal gas and belching. Some leafy greens and fruits like cabbage, broccoli, kale, pears and apples induce increased gas production and delayed digestion resulting in bloated stomach.
Other eatables such as hard candy, artificial sweetening agents and carbonated beverages contain sugars that are tough to break down causing distension.
Foods that Help Prevent Bloating
Probiotics would surely top the list of foods to stop bloating, distension and abdominal discomforts. Bloating can be a result of irregular digestion with gut bacteria not functioning properly or constipation. These issues can be easily resolved with probiotics in the diet. Gut-friendly bacteria in probiotics help in digestion and ensure regular bowel movement.
Yogurt is an all natural probiotic readily available at home. Other natural probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles are also good to treat bloating. Probiotic supplements can also be alternatively taken, but it is always best to go for natural products.
Herbs like rosemary and peppermint are best suited to control bloating. Rosemary apart from controlling blood pressure and treating toothache, helps in digestion and eases gas in the stomach. Peppermint is again a very useful herb to treat gas and bloating. It is a herb from the carminative family that helps break down complex products and expel gas. Other herbs and spices belonging to the carminative family like fennel seeds, ginger, spearmint, dill, caraway, and cinnamon also show effective results against intestinal gas.
A concoction or tea made from these herbs gives relief in bloating by relaxing stomach muscles and reducing pain.
Celery is a leafy wonder to treat abdominal bloating. This crunchy green vegetable is an ancient remedy which reduces gas and flatulence. It regulates bowel movements and reduces the production of intestinal gas by decreasing fluid retention. Celery is high in water content and helps detoxifying the body. Vegetables like cucumber, parsley and asparagus are natural diuretics that allow frequent urination and keep your tummy flat. These greens are high in water and fiber that controls bloating.
It is advised to eat cooked vegetables over raw vegetables to aid digestion and reduce gas.
Banana and Avocado
Banana and avocado are high potassium containing fruits that regulate digestion and reduce bloating. Most processed foods and fatty meals are high in sodium content that is known to cause bloating. Sodium is hydrophilic in nature that attracts water and retains it in the body resulting in swollen tummy. Potassium rich foods on the other hand help release retained water from the muscles and reduce bloating.
Fruits like avocado and bananas help maintain sodium-potassium level in the body and aid digestion. Make a fruity oatmeal breakfast or eat some slices as a snack to get rid of that bloat.
All melons are beneficial for health, but watermelon is the juiciest fruit of all with 92% water and has natural diuretic property. Sodium and potassium should be balanced to avoid bloating and watermelon is a good source of potassium.More the potassium in body, less will be the retained water and thus prevents bloating to a large extent.
Watermelon drinks are healthy and taste bud satisfying. Watermelon mocktails are also available to suffice the needs.
Beans and Lentils
Potassium rich high fiber beans like soybeans, lima beans, sprouted lentils and white beans are good for digestion and reduce bloating induced due to menstrual periods. They are high in protein and estrogen content that help reduce water retention, pain and bloating. Beans help regulate hormonal imbalance during menstruation and also help in easing out pain.
One must be cautious while selecting beans if feeling bloated as all beans are not digestion-friendly and can cause gas. People with compromised bowel movements should not include beans in their diet.
Water with Lemon
Lemon added to lukewarm water can do wonders in case of gas and bloating. It is a natural remedy to ease bowel movements and regulate digestion. Lemon has diuretic properties that allow urine passage and reduce sodium levels in the body. Also bloating due to water retention can be caused in case of dehydration; drinking lemon water fulfills hydration needs of the body pushing out the retained water and easing bloat.
Drink a glass of warm water with fresh lemon squeezed to improve digestion.
Rice and rice flour contain carbohydrates that are digested completely in the stomach unlike starches from other grains like wheat, oats and corn. Carbohydrate like gluten present in wheat is indigestible and hence results in intestinal gases. Rice on the other hand is light on the gut and gets completely digested in the small intestine giving no scope for gas production.
Other forms of rice like brown rice are healthy and good for gut. Make a cooked brown rice salad that has low-sodium content or a yummy rice pudding to favor digestion.
To people who are conscious about their diet and work to maintain their body metabolism, coconut water is a wonder drink. This natural, refreshing drink is rich in potassium, calcium and natural sugars that is perfect for summer workouts or after a high-sodium meal. It helps flushing excess sodium out of the body making your stomach flat and digestion healthy.
Replace carbonated beverages and sugary drinks with tender coconut water to get your tummy in shape. Make a refreshing fruit punch with coconut water or drink it plain to soothe your belly and prevent bloating.