Feeling bloated is not a very pleasant experience. Not only can it make your stomach feel full, tight, and sometimes even hurt, but it also makes your belly look bigger. Bloating is common: according to research in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, it affects 16% to 19% of the general population.
There are many ways to prevent bloating. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes it and how to keep it at bay.
Standard Causes of Bloating
Nutritionist and owner of Steps2Nutrition Carrie Gabriel MS, RDN, advises that gas is the most common cause of bloating. The breaking down of undigested food combined with swallowed air creates a build-up of gas in the digestive tract. Ways in which we end up swallowing air include eating too quickly, chewing gum, and smoking.
Medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and mental health factors such as depression or anxiety can also contribute to bloating.
Foods That Cause Bloating
Unhealthy foods that are high in fat, such as onion rings or fried chicken, cause bloating because they take longer to digest.
Carbonated beverages like soda and beer contain carbon dioxide and fermentable carbohydrates, well-known causes of bloating. High fructose corn syrup, an ingredient commonly added to fruit drinks, soda, and bread, can cause bloating when consumed in large quantities.
Many of the foods that cause gas and bloating are healthy (for example, cruciferous vegetables), so they shouldn’t be entirely cut out of your diet. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower may cause bloating, but they are packed with beneficial fiber and vitamins.
How to Prevent Bloating?
Try Adopting a Low-FODMAP Diet
A diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) is recommended for IBS management, and many have success with it for reducing bloating. It essentially means avoiding foods that are not easily broken down in the gut or are high in carbs. Examples include garlic, beans, and foods containing lactose, such as milk and cheese.
Take Your Time When Eating
Limit distractions while you eat by practicing a little mindful eating. Focus on what you’re eating, enjoy it, and eat slowly to help reduce the amount of air swallowed.
Physical activity has been found to reduce symptoms in people with chronic illnesses that cause regular bloating.
Keep Bloating at Arm’s Length
To avoid gas and other unpleasant side effects, eat food that is low in carbs, swap unhealthy food for fish or grilled chicken, eat slowly, and exercise regularly.