Feeling of fullness, gas and swollen belly are signs of abdominal bloating. Gases get trapped in intestines and do not pass easily resulting in an enlarged stomach and occasional abdominal pain. Swallowed air, slowed digestion due to medications, constipation, hormonal changes, gassy foods and food allergy like Celiac disease are related to bloating. The passing of gas can bring relief in pain and distension.
Bloating is often related to the food we eat. Certain eatables cause more gas than others that lead to bloating. Reducing the intake of gas producing foods help prevent bloating. Here are some foods that cause abdominal bloating.
Fatty Fried Foods
Deep fried, greasy and fat containing foods like potato wedges, chips, fried chicken and burgers can cause bloating. These foods contain a large amount of fat and sugar which take time breaking down and result in delayed digestion, accumulating a significant amount of gases in the stomach and intestines.
Junk food might sound mouthwatering, but high content of starches and sugars in processed foods make them unhealthy for our gut.
One should reduce eating too much of high fat-fried foods and go for healthier foods that are baked or shallow-fried like low-fat grilled chicken and baked vegetables.
Spicy and Salty Foods
Spices stimulate increased production of gastric juices and acids in the stomach resulting in more gases in the digestive tract.
Foods containing a large amount of spices like cloves, garlic, nutmeg, cardamom and red chili can cause burning sensation and irritation in the stomach. Also, sauces like barbeque sauce, chili sauce and vinegar increase acidity and cause bloating.
High intake of sodium due to too much salt in meals can also lead to bloating.
An alternative to these spices can be other herbs and spices like thyme, oregano, basil or chives which are equally flavored and easy on the gut.
Vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and others. They are gassy in nature because of certain short-chain carbohydrates present in them known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) which are digested through fermentation by gut bacteria releasing gas as a byproduct. These gases get accumulated in the colon resulting in distension and bloating.
Reduce intake of such veggies and opt other green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini instead for better digestion.
Legumes are rich in carbohydrates, proteins and other vital nutrients making them an essential part of balanced diet. Not all but some legumes like beans and lentils contain sugars called alpha galactosides that belong to FODMAPs which upon fermentation produce gases in the intestine.
Also, for some individuals with compromised bowel system fiber-rich lentils are difficult to digest and may cause bloating.
Individuals facing bloating problems with beans and lentils can substitute them for other protein-rich legumes such as soaked pinto beans and black beans.
Sprouted beans and lentils, whole grains and meat can also make up for the required protein.
Carbonated drinks and flavored sodas allow passage of large amounts of air into the gut. They contain high quantities of carbon dioxide which when swallowed cause bloating. If the gas does not pass easily, then it may result in severe distention and even cramps.
These fancy drinks are not healthy for any reason and must be avoided.
The best alternative to any such beverage is water. Fresh fruit juices without sweeteners, tea and coffee are other health-promoting options.
Dairy is always said to be a healthy and good source of calcium and proteins. Dairy products like cheese, milk, butter, curd and cream are consumed worldwide for their obvious beneficial reasons.
Dairy products can cause discomfort to those who are intolerant to lactose; sugar found primarily in milk products. For such people, dairy products can be a reason for bloating and diarrhea.
In such cases products like cream, butter and yogurt can help as they are low in lactose than milk. Other alternatives can be soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk and lactose-free milk.
Wheat and Rye
Grains like wheat and rye are often under the scanner for their high gluten content. These grains can be responsible for bloating and gas in people with gluten sensitivity.
Apart from that, wheat is also the source of sugars, which upon fermentation produces gases.
Rye is also rich in fiber content which is another reason for bloating in sensitive individuals.
Other grains like brown rice, oats, buckwheat and quinoa are gluten-free options.
Onion is a popular ingredient in salads and Indian cuisine. They are rich in soluble fibers called fructans that are hard to digest and can cause bloating of the abdomen.
Raw onions contain other compounds that are responsible for bloating and abdominal distention resulting in pain. Some people are more sensitive towards these compounds making them more prone to stomach inflation.
However, if the onions are cooked; bloating is considerably reduced. Other herbs like parsley and thyme are better alternatives to raw onions.
Fructose-rich fruits like apples also facilitate bloating. Apples are high in Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants which make them an excellent source of nutrition, but a lot of sugars and fiber contribute towards increased gas production in intestines. Some people find it more difficult to digest than others.
Banana is another high fructose containing fruit.
Eat fruits that are low in fructose content like sweet melon, grapefruit and berries.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and sucralose cause increased bloating. These sugars cannot be digested in the stomach leading to its fermentation, releasing gaseous byproducts.
They are commonly found in diet sodas, chewing gums, sweets and as sweetening palettes. These sugar alcohols can also lead to other digestive issues such as diarrhea.
Erythritol & Stevia are easily digestible than other artificial sugar compounds, making them better alternatives.
Beer is extensively consumed all over the world. It is made from fermented food products like barley, maize, rice and wheat-containing carbohydrates. These carbs upon fermentation produce carbon dioxide gas which is the main cause for bloating.
Beer is high in carbohydrates and often made from gluten-containing grains that result in increased bloating. Beer is also a cause of increased belly fat because of its high-calorie nature.
Water and low-carb containing beverages are always better options for a healthy digestive system. Alcoholic beverages such as white and red wine cause less bloating.
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