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Bloating happens when fluid or gas builds up between your body’s cells, and most commonly affects the abdominal area, although other parts of your body can also be affected. Abdominal bloating can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable; your stomach distends and makes your clothes feel tighter, leaving you feeling self-conscious and sluggish.
Keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks and noting down when you feel most bloated can help you to identify which foods are likely to cause your stomach to bloat.
5 of the most common foods that can trigger bloating:
- Cruciferous vegetables: Cauliflower, kale, and broccoli contain raffinose, a sugar that doesn’t digest. Instead, it gets broken down and fermented by your gut bacteria, and it is this fermentation process that produces gas and makes you bloat.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans are great sources of protein, but also contain sugars and fibres that your body struggles to absorb, leading to excess gas in the digestive tract as your gut bacteria start to ferment them.
- Dairy: Cheese and milk contain lactose, a type of sugar, and our bodies don’t produce the enzyme required to break it down. Again, this leads to fermentation and the production of excess gas.
- Apples: They may keep the doctor at bay, but the same can’t be said for bloating. They are high in fibre and natural sugars, including fructose and sorbitol, which many people are unable to break down, leading to – you guessed it – fermentation.
- Salty foods: Sodium can cause the body to retain water, and excess water is stored between the cells, causing bloating. Read your labels to identify high sodium counts in pre-packaged foods, and stop adding salt to your meals.
5 foods that can help you feel less bloated:
- Cucumber: Slices of cucumber are used to reduce puffiness around the eyes because they contain a flavinoid antioxidant called quercetin which helps to reduce swelling, and it has the same effect on your abdominal bloating too.
- Bananas: They are high in potassium, as are kiwis, avocados, oranges, and pistachio nuts. Potassium helps to regulate sodium levels in the body, and helps to reduce bloating. Bananas also contain soluble fibre that can help prevent constipation – another cause of bloating.
- Asparagus: This super veg has a mild diuretic affect and can help to eliminate excess fluid. It also contains prebiotics which promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and help to maintain balance in your digestive system.
- Yoghurt: Natural yoghurt with live cultures contains probiotics which help keep gut flora in check. In a well-oiled digestive system, bloating shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
- Peppermint tea: Mint is known for its benefits to the digestive system. Follow your meals with a cup of peppermint tea to aid digestion and soothe your stomach.