There are many things that can cause bloating – from dehydration to lack of fibre in the diet; and women can also experience bloating both before and after their period as a result of a change in hormone levels. Bloating can also be the result of chronic disorders such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) as well as Crohn’s disease. Whatever the reason may be, there are certain dietary changes you can make to try and find relief.
First and foremost, you should avoid known triggers. While they are healthy, foods such as beans, lentils, broccoli, barley, garlic and apples are all known to cause stomach bloating. Some of these foods can be even more problematic for individuals with underlying health conditions, like the aforementioned IBS, as they can form gas and lead to other uncomfortable symptoms such as cramping and even diarrhea. Barley and rye contain gluten, which can also cause problems if you happen to be intolerant or sensitive to it. If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy products (such as milk) should also be avoided as they, too, can cause bloating and other digestive-related problems. In addition, foods that are high in sodium can cause dehydration – and, when you’re dehydrated your cells hang onto water, which ultimately leads to bloating. Carbonated beverages are another thing you should avoid drinking as they are high in sugar and can also contribute to bloating.
As for foods that can help prevent or relieve bloating, avocado is one – especially where sodium is concerned, as they are high in potassium which is actually known to help flush out sodium from the body. They’re also high in monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce high cholesterol. Avocado can be implemented into a variety of healthy recipes, such as recipes and sandwiches. However, you should only eat them in moderation as they tend to be a bit high in calories. You can also try fibre-rich foods, such as celery, to help relieve bloating. Because celery contains 95% water, it can help combat dehydration and therefore reducing bloating caused by other foods. Like avocado, celery can also be added to different meals, such as tuna casserole, salads, or they simply make for a good snack on their own. Fermented pickles are another good option; they’re low in sodium and also contain a type of bacterium known as lactobacillus, which can help the digestive system. Pickles can be eaten on their own as a snack, as a side to a favourite meal, or in sandwiches.
If your bloating is caused by an underlying health condition, or is the result of something such as constipation, you can also find relieve by getting regular physical activity. The more active you are, the more regularly your bowels will move, which can not only help relieve stool but also any excess gas you may have. If you have any concerns about underlying health conditions, then it is important you address these with your physician so that you can get them under control.
Unfortunately, some of the quick fixes mentioned above will not always be effective in relieving bloating, which is why you should also have some long-term solutions in mind. For example, introduce more fibre into your diet. Males should be getting at least 38 grams of fibre per day, while females should get at least 25 grams. However, when increasing your fibre intake, it’s important that you not do it too quickly as you may actually notice even more bloating as a result, so always start slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the changes. Staying on the subject of food, people also tend to find they feel bloated after eating meals. This is usually the result of eating too much food at once, so it’s recommended that you eat smaller meals throughout the day instead. To help regulate the bacteria in your colon (which is what’s responsible for producing gas and causing bloating), try taking a probiotic as they can help keep your gut healthy.