Bloating sucks. You’re eating healthy and going to your twice weekly workouts, but still you feel like someone stuck a straw in your mouth and blew you up until you looked like something from a funhouse mirror. About 30 percent of adults experience bloating so let’s talk about causes and solutions.
Stomach Bloating Basics
The main cause of bloating is what you put in your mouth (careful). There are good foods, like bananas, tomatoes, and spinach, and bloating promoting foods like kale and cabbage. Shoot, you can even suck in too much AIR (called air swallowing) that causes bloating!
Let’s start with foods you can enjoy that can help with the bloating.
Foods That Help PREVENT Stomach Bloating
#1 BANANAS, CANTALOUPES, MANGOES, NUTS, TOMATOES, SPINACH (POTASSIUM-RICH FOODS)
Foods high in potassium help regulate the balance of fluid in your body which counter the effects of sodium which is found in processed foods. Some good potassium-rich foods that help prevent stomach bloat are: Bananas, Cantaloupes, Mangoes, Nuts, Tomatoes and Spinach.
TIP: Not all potassium-rich foods are created equal. For example, certain leafy greens such as Kale and Cabbage are high in potassium but also contain raffinose which remains undigested causing it to sit in your intestinal tract festering in a methane-producing bacteria which causes some big time bloat.
#2 RICE (FULLY DIGESTED CARBOHYDRATES)
Certain carbohydrates are indigestible causing gas to build up in the gut. Rice, on the other hand, is fully digested in the small intestines and can help the accompanying foods to digest as well. The American College of Gastroenterology recommends rice & rice flour as a substitute for other starches like wheat, oats, potatoes and corn which promote bloat.
#3 CUCUMBERS & CELERY (NATURAL DIURETICS)
If you’ve already got some stomach bloat happening, then try munching on a cucumber or a celery stick. Cucumbers and celery are high in water content and low in fiber which works as a natural diuretic (helps you pee) releasing water from your tummy and keeps you from getting bloated from retaining water.
#4 YOGURT OR SUPPLEMENTS (PROBIOTICS)
Dannon Activia Yogurt is a great source of probiotics (because Jamie Lee said so – kidding). A probiotic is a good bacteria that helps to keep you ‘regular’ and bloat-free. And Dannon is pretty committed to it’s effectiveness offering the Take the Activia Challenge where if it doesn’t help with your digestion and bloating they will give you your money back. They suggest eating it two times a week for a month.
However, if you can’t stand the taste of yogurt and prefer to spend your calories elsewhere then the Align Probiotic Supplement is the best one on the market since the B.Infantis is the most researched strain of probiotic to prevent bloating.
#5 STRAWBERRIES (FIBER-RICH)
High in fiber, strawberries can keep you regular and feeling less bloated. I personally can’t stand strawberries unless they’re covered in whipped cream or maybe chocolate so I don’t have a lot to say about these.
#6 PAPAYA (PAPAIN)
Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme that assist the digestive system which fights bloating. Papain also breaks down toxins and is an antioxidant so there’s really no reason not to eat papaya. If they aren’t in your local grocery store then try your local Asian market, however you can also enjoy the benefits of papain in supplements such as The Finest Nutrition Papaya & Enzymes.
#7 RAW GARLIC, BARLEY AND LEEK (PREBIOTICS)
Prebiotics help healthy bacteria thrive during the digestive process nourishing the flora in your gut deterring bad bacteria and gas that causes bloating. Raw garlic, barley and leek contain prebiotics.
Ok. On to the negatives. Are you eating something you shouldn’t be?? Read on.
Foods that CAUSE Stomach Bloating
LEGUMES: LENTILS, AND SOY BEANS AND PEAS, OH MY!
As healthy as legumes can be, there’s one thing you probably didn’t know – many of them can promote stomach bloating. For example, soy beans, lentils and peas contain sugars called oligosaccharides that are difficult for your body to breakdown, so once they reach the large intestine your gut bacteria has a party and it shows in your waist area.
Quick Fix: One way to avoid the bloat legumes can bring is to combine them with whole grains, like rice or quinoa, which are easy to digest and can aid in the digestion of their less copacetic friends. Another less sexy option is before you chow down on the legumes, take a Beano or other digestive enzyme product.
DAIRY PRODUCTS (MY PERSONAL WEAKNESS)
If you notice stomach bloat after eating or drinking dairy products you may be lactose intolerant (meaning your body is deficient in lactase, the enzymes necessary to breakdown the milk sugar called lactose) which would cause intestinal stress and trigger bloating.
Quick Fix: Lower your dairy intake and/or opt for the lactose-free versions of your favorite dairy foods.
VEGGIES SUCH AS BROCCOLI, KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CAULIFLOWER, CARROTS, ONIONS AND CABBAGE
As nutritious as they may be, asparagus, broccoli, kale, brussells sprouts, cauliflower, onions, carrots and cabbage all contain raffinose – that pesky sugar that remains undigested all the way through to the large intestine then ferments in methane-producing bacteria (!!!) causing some crazy bloating.
Quick Fix: Make sure to eat these foods cooked which makes them easier for your body to digest.
SWEETENERS SUCH AS SORBITOL AND FRUCTOSE
Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener that can’t be digested and can be found in high contents in dried and canned fruits. Fructose, although a natural sugar, causes people who suffer from fructose malabsorption (30% of us have this condition), to have difficulty digesting it causing them to bloat. Sorbitol and Fructose can be found in most processed foods.
Quick Fix: Study the ingredients in the foods you eat and limit your intake in the ones containing sorbitol or fructose. Sorbitol is also in certain medications and may not be listed so consider checking current and new medictations that you are using with your pharmacist. If your bloating is continuous and uncomfortable you amy want to consider looking into a Fructose-Restricted Diet.
I’m going to stop this conversation before it begins because sophisticated ladies, such as us, don’t chew gum. Period. End of discussion.
FRUITS SUCH AS APPLES, PEARS, PEACHES, APRICOTS AND PRUNES
Apples are not only high in fiber but also sorbitol and fructose which are those annoying sugars found in fruits that cause gas and that uncomfortable puffy feeling. Other fruits that bloat are pears, peaches, apricots and prunes.
Quick Fix: Do yourself a favor and before you do your next Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show or make plans to wear that itty bitty teeny weeny bikini, stay away from these fruits.
MICROWAVEABLE DINNERS, CANNED SOUPS, BOTTLED SALAD DRESSINGS
Salt and processed foods, such as those microwaveable dinners and canned soups, are high in sodium and sodium is a real trigger for bloating in women.
Quck Fix: Opt for low-sodium varieties if you must eat canned soup and salt. As for the microwaveable meals – we aren’t in college anymore. Just say no.
Whole grains are healthy and can even aid in the digestion of other foods it’s true, but ironically the high fiber content that makes them healthy is also an indigestible carbohydrate which can cause gas, bloating and constipation.
Quick Fix: In order for whole grains to be a positive addition to your diet add them in gradually. Nutritionists recommend to slowly increase foods with high fiber content and drink plenty of water when you do since fiber absorbs water and drinking liquids helps fiber to move through the digestive system and to prevent bloating.
Now, here’s the question I’m certain you’ve been asking yourself since the beginning of this article – what the hell is ‘air swallowing’?? Here are some common ways we air swallow every day.
Air Swallowing Causes Bloating
Carbonated Beverages – when you drink coca-cola or beer, etc, you are sending carbon dioxide straight to your stomach which causes stomach bloating.
Drinking with a Straw – drinking from a straw or water fountain even, causes you to gulp down more air.
Chewing Gum, Sucking on Hard Candies, and Smoking Cigarettes all lead to swallowing more air. So STOP!!!
Mouth Breathing (aka Aerophagia) – Mouth breathing is an obvious way we swallow air. Mouth breathing can be your style of breathing or can just happen during stressful situations. Be aware of it and you’ll be surprised how you can control it. When I was growing up I was a mouth breather so my orthodontist made me sleep with a tongue depressor held between my lips. It worked! Try it.
With all this info girls, there is no reason to suffer from stomach bloating! I would love to know how this advice works out for you!