Bloating, a Problem, It’s Causes And How To Prevent It

What is Bloating? Foods that cause bloating? What should you eat instead? Ways that would help in reduce/ eliminate bloating?

What is Bloating?

This simply refers to the body condition where one feels that their bellies have swollen more so after eating.

The main cause of bloating is excess production of gas within the digestive system. In addition to this, muscle movement disturbance in the digestive system would also lead to such bloating in the belly.

The effect of bloating is that one is left feeling uncomfortable keeping in mind that the stomach gets bigger. In extreme cases, the condition would be termed as “food baby”.

One thing that you ought to understand clearly is that bloating is quite different from water retention. Nonetheless, both terms are at times used interchangeably.

In layman’s language, the presence of excessive liquids, solids or even gases within the digestive system would lead to bloating. In other individuals, increased sensitivity is the main cause of bloating.

The feeling one gets during bloating is basically the notion of increased pressure within the abdomen. According to reports, bloating is considered as a common issue.

Despite the fact that bloating can be attributed to serious medical issues, in other cases the problem could be as a result of the diet that you stick to.

When the diet is the problem, it could be a clear indication that your body is intolerant to them.

Some of the foods that cause bloating alongside suggestions of the best meals to take instead.

1. Beans

Beans are normally categorized as legumes. The good thing about beans is that they are proteins as well as they offer healthy carbs to its users.

Similarly, they are rich in fiber content and that they offer vital minerals and vitamins. In spite of these benefits, beans have sugar content in them which are termed as alpha-galactosides.

These types of sugars are basically carbs from the group known as FODMAPs. Fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) are basically short chain carbs that avoid being digested.

After escaping digestion, the carbs are normally fermented by gut bacteria present in the colon. The by-product of such fermentation is gas.

Healthy people would consider FODMAPs as an advantage since they normally aid in fuel production that is used by digestive bacteria and as such, there is no negative effect expected.

Nonetheless, people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome would be negatively affected as another form of gas is produced during the fermenting process.

This is how bloating effect comes up. Other possible effects likely to be felt are flatulence, diarrhoea, and cramping. The FODMAPs can be effectively prevented by initially soaking beans before preparing them.

What should you eat instead?

There are certain beans that have minimal negative effects. For example, white kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans are types of beans that are easily digested after they have been soaked. Alternatively, you can avoid beans altogether by relying on quinoa, meat and grains.

2. Lentils

Just like beans, lentils are also a type of legumes. They are equally rich in fiber and protein and they also offer healthy carbs to those that consume them. Lentils have essential minerals including copper, manganese and iron.

The mere fact that lentils are rich in fiber implies that they could lead to bloating more so in individuals that are sensitive. People that do not consume a lot fiber would be greatly affected.

FODMAPs are also present in lentils hence they could lead to bloating considering the fact that they lead to unnecessary gas production. The effect of bloating can considerably be prevented by soaking lentils or spouting them.

What should you eat instead?

To prevent bloating and other effects, it is recommended to opt for lentils that are light coloured as compared to those that are dark in colour.

3. Carbonated Drinks

Drinks with high gas content e.g. carbon dioxide would also lead to bloating. Drinking such liquids will end up leaving an individual with high amounts of gas within their bellies.

When this gas is trapped within the digestive system, the effect is that one feels bloated and cramping could be another effect.

What should you drink instead?

It is advisable to drink plain water. Other alternatives that one can turn to include tea, coffee or fruit flavoured water.

4. Wheat

Over the years, there have been numerous controversies regarding wheat. This is because they have gluten and high protein content in them. In spite of the controversies behind wheat, a good number of people still consume it.

Wheat is an important ingredient in pastas, bread, pizzas and tortillas. Waffles, biscuits, pancakes and other forms of cakes also depend on wheat for their effective preparation.

Individuals suffering from celiac disease would largely be affected after consuming wheat. Some of the digestive problems that they would be going through include bloating, stomach pains and even diarrhoea.

Just like beans and lentils, wheat also produces FODMAPs hence could lead to digestive complications in those that consume it.

What should you eat instead?

Gluten free foods would be ideal substitutes for wheat. Examples include; quinoa, pure oats, coconut flour and almond flour.

5. Cruciferous Vegetables and Broccoli

The family of cruciferous veggies include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts etc. These type of veggies are considered to be very healthy considering the fact that they have essential nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, potassium and vitamin K.

Regardless of the benefits mentioned the veggies also have FODMAPs hence could cause bloating among its consumers. To prevent the effects of bloating the cruciferous veggies should be cooked.

What should you eat instead?

The good news is that there are several alternatives to the above mentioned foods. For example, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, zucchini and sweet potatoes are some of its alternatives.

6. Onions

Onions are a type of vegetables that have powerful and outstanding taste. In most cases, people do not consume the onions as they are but they opt to use them in preparing meals, salads and other forms of side dishes.

Onions are considered as sources of fructans. The frutcans have the effect of causing bloating since they are soluble fibers. In addition to this, there are some individuals that are intolerant to compounds found in onions.

The digestive effects can be minimized when the onions are consumed after they have been cooked.

What should you eat instead?

A good alternative that can be consumed include spices and herbs.

7. Barley

A number of people are conversant with barley since it is a common cereal. In addition to the mere fact that it is nutritious, it is also a fiber rich grain that offers several vitamins including manganese, selenium and molybdenum.

The high fiber content is what could lead to bloating. Individuals mostly affected are those that do not consume a lot of fiber. Similarly, barley is known to contain gluten. Gluten intolerant individuals would therefore be affected after consuming this.

What should you eat instead?

Refined barley is a recommended option in this case. Options to consider include scotch barley and pearl. Other grains could also be an excellent option to replace barley. They include brown rice, buckwheat, guinoa and oats.

8. Rye

Just like wheat, this is also a cereal grain. Rye is a good source of manganese, fiber, copper, B-vitamins and phosphorous. The presence of gluten in rye also makes it one of the main causes of bloating among those individuals that consume it.

What should you eat instead?

Brown rice, quinoa, and oats are some of the grains that are recommended to be consumed instead.

9. Dairy Products

We all know the nutritious aspect of dairy products. They are also a good source of calcium and protein. Some of the dairy products that are consumed regularly include cheese, butter, yogurt, milk and cream cheese.

75% of global population suffer from lactose intolerance. This is because they are not in a position to effectively break down present lactose in milk. Lactose intolerant people would therefore be faced with digestive problems. Common symptoms entail: cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhoea etc.

What should you eat instead?

Butter and cream are good alternatives to dairy products. Yogurt, coconut, soy, rice milk and almond can also be used instead.

10. Apples

Apples stand among the best fruits on the entire globe. Apples are rich in vitamin C and fiber hence they are considered to offer health benefits to those consuming them.

To some people, apples are closely linked with bloating problems. The effects are as a result of fructose and fiber content present in the apples. To minimize the effects of bloating and gas, apples ought to be cooked.

What should you eat instead?

Optional fruits to digest include blueberries, bananas, mandarins, grapefruit, strawberries and oranges.

11. Garlic

Garlic is commonly used for adding flavour to foods and is also regarded as an excellent health remedy. Just like onions, they are known to contain FODMAPs due to the presence of fractans in them.

This means that they can also cause bloating. The effects resulting from consuming garlic could be reduced by cooking garlic.

What should you eat instead?

Spices and herbs are recommended as alternatives to garlic. Examples here include: basil, parsley, thyme and chives.

12. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are normally used as a replacement for sugar that is present in chewing gums and sugar-free meals. Some of these include: mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.

Just like other foods mentioned above, sugar alcohols are part of FODMAPs. Digestive problems are caused by these sugar alcohols since they normally get to the intestines as they are (unchanged).

Issues related to over-consuming sugar alcohols include gas, diarrhoea and bloating.

What should you eat instead?

Something that you should consume in this case is an alternative that is easily digested e.g. erythritol and stevia.

13. Beer

Beer is a leading cause of bloating. The main reason for this is that beer is normally carbonated and that is made from fermented carbohydrates e.g. maize, rice, wheat and barley.

This therefore means that beer has got gas content in it. The fermented carbs are also knonw to cause bloating.

What should you drink instead?

The best beverage that should be used instead is just water. For those looking for alcoholic beverages they ought to stick to white wine, red wine and some spirits since they have minimal bloating effects.

Proven ways that would help in reducing/ eliminating bloating

1. Avoid eating too much at once

Eating a lot of food at once can have the same effect as bloating. This is for reasons that your belly would feel full. If you have been feeling uncomfortable after eating then it is important to reduce the portions you take at a go.

In addition to reducing your portion intake, it is also recommended to chew food properly. This offers the benefit of reducing the air you might have to swallow while eating.

It is also recommended to drink apple cider vinegar after consuming heavy meal of dairy products to help your stomach digest properly, but make sure to dilute apple cider vinegar with water because it is acidic.

Bottom line: individuals that face bloating problems normally are considered to be sensitive to certain foods in the stomach. As such, eating meals in smaller portions is helpful.

2. Intolerances and food allergies

It is a common thing to be faced with intolerances and other food allergies. Consuming foods that one is intolerant to would certainly lead to bloating, gas production and other related effects.

Common ingredients that will have such effects include: lactose, fructose, eggs and foods high in gluten. Avoiding these ingredients might help prevent bloating.

Bottom line: intolerances and food allergies are considered as common bloating causes. The ingredients to avoid include: lactose, fructose, eggs and wheat.

3. Swallowing gases and air should be avoided

Gas sources within the digestive system include that which is produced by gut bacteria and one that is obtained from eating or drinking. Carbonated drinks are considered to be the leading causes of gas within the digestive system.

Other causes that will lead to air being dumped in the stomach include gum chewing, eating hurriedly and drinking using straws.

Bottom Line: Swallowing a lot of air would lead to bloating. Carbonated beverages are a leading cause of bloating since it dumps a lot of air in the stomach.

4. Avoid foods that have gas

There are those foods that are rich in fiber. Such foods will only lead to gas production within the digestive system. Examples of such foods include: lentils, beans and other forms of whole grains.

It is imperative to have a diary where you note down foods that are considered to cause bloating and those that are good to consume.

To prevent bloating, it is recommended that you should avoid legumes such as lentils and beans. Keeping off fatty foods would also help.

Bottom line: if there are foods that cause bloating in your stomach, you should simply avoid them. Reducing their intake is another recommended action to take.

5. Caution should be taken with sugar alcohols

Sources of sugar alcohols that one should be careful with include sugar present in chewing gums as well as sugar-free foods. Sugar alcohols are known to pose digestive problems such as bloating.

Intestinal bacteria act on them and the by-product would be production of gas. The sugar substances are basically FODMAPs at the same time.

Sugar alcohols that ought to be avoided include sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol etc. Nonetheless, if need be erythritol is a recommended sugar alcohol that you should consume.

Bottom line: digestive problems are associated with consuming sugar alcohols. The sources of sugar alcohols such as chewing gums have to be avoided.

6. Digestive enzyme supplements

Over the counter drugs can be helpful at times. In this case, the products to be taken would be those that would help in breaking down carbs that are indigestible. Examples of such supplements include: lactase and beano.

Bottom line: supplements can be a good solution to help in fighting bloating and related digestion problems. The supplements to be bought are those that aid in the breaking down of food components.

7. Avoiding constipation

This is a digestion problem that most people are used to. Preventing constipation would be an excellent way of ensuring that bloating does not affect you.

This can conveniently be obtained by digesting soluble fiber. Constipation can also be prevented by consuming magnesium supplements and trying to engage in physical activities.

Bottom line: the effects of bloating can be worsened by constipation. Therefore it is important to avoid such constipation from occurring.

To achieve this, taking in magnesium supplements is recommended. Engaging in physical activities might also help.

8. Taking Probiotics

A leading contributor of bloating is normally the bacteria present in the intestine. The type of bacteria present in the intestine might vary from one individual to the other.

Studies have gone forth to prove that probiotic supplements are effective in reducing the gas production by bacteria present in the intestine.

Therefore it also helps in preventing bloating more so in individuals that face digestive problems.

Bottom line: Probiotic supplements aid in preventing bloating as it works on the gut bacteria that would have led to gas production.

9. Taking peppermint oil

In some cases, bloating could be a resultant effect of muscles being altered within the digestive tract. There are recommended drugs termed as antispasmodics.

They aid in reducing muscle spasms. The effect of taking peppermint is similar to taking such drugs. Recent studies have proven that a regular intake of peppermint would aid in preventing bloating in patients.

Bottom line: bloating can effectively be prevented by taking in peppermint oil. Other digestive problems could also be prevented.

10. Always consult with a medical expert to disqualify a serious condition or a chronic disease

Lastly, if the bloating problem persists, it is advisable to consult with a medical expert. This is imperative as they would confirm to you whether you are suffering from a chronic or any other form of serious digestive diseases.

Nonetheless, in most cases, bloating is a common problem that can be effectively reduced or prevented by simply changing your diet.

Over to you

If you liked this article please share: