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Belly bloat often brings with it the dreaded discomfort of a mash-up of seemingly relentless symptoms, like abdominal pressure and pain, distended abdomen, and gas. We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s actually very common in otherwise healthy individuals. In fact, nearly 10 to 25 percent of people complain about abdominal bloating. That percentage significantly increases when issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and lactose, wheat, or gluten sensitivities and intolerances are also on board. What you eat and drink can greatly impact digestive issues, like bloat. Fortunately, relief can be found in many familiar foods you likely have right in your refrigerator or pantry.
Keep Bloating at Bay
Because intestinal gas is likely contributor to bloat, it pays to keep the digestive system healthy. Built-up gas is often a sign of constipation, which means digested food waste is just sitting there, fermenting. Certain foods and drinks can help to get it moving and send it—and the resulting bloat—on its way out. Foods that are rich in fiber may help keep digestion moving forward, as do hydrating foods and drinks. Give these foods a go to beat the bloat!
- Oats. There’s wisdom behind an oatmeal breakfast. Oats are rich in fiber, boasting a full 4 grams of dietary fiber in one half-cup serving. This one breakfast food provides 13 percent of the recommended daily value for fiber. Mix in fresh, frozen, or dried fruit and nuts for even more flavor and fiber.
- Yogurt. Include yogurt or other fermented foods in your anti-bloat diet to provide probiotics, which are the good bacteria important for gut health. Research has shown that probiotics may help reduce bloating and abdominal distension in cases of IBS. For the lactose intolerant or those who don’t care for yogurt, try other fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and pickles (check the label, as not all pickles are fermented).
- At 95 percent water, cucumbers help provide plenty of hydration to help support a smooth-running digestive system. Many vegetables and fruits are excellent hydrators, such as celery, which is also 95 percent water, plus contains built-in fiber. Berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, lettuce, and citrus fruits are other good hydration sources. Combine your favorites with other anti-bloat foods for an extra boost to the digestive system. Cucumbers, for example, are great dipped into fiber-rich hummus or a gut-healthy yogurt dip.
- There’s a long history to this ancient spice’s gut benefits, which has given rise to its use as a home remedy for many issues, notably digestive issues like constipation, indigestion, nausea, and bloating. Ginger contains an enzyme, called zingibain, which may help support the breakdown of dietary protein to support healthy digestion. Ginger is available in many forms—fresh, dried, powdered, tea, and more—which makes it especially versatile to add to your diet.
- Green Tea. This soothing tea helps by providing a source of hydration and as well as natural caffeine, a compound that may encourages movement in the digestive tract, acting like a natural laxative, to support regularity, which helps prevent bloating.
- This popular fruit provides potassium, which may assist in preventing bloat. Potassium-rich foods help the body regulate sodium levels. Too much sodium can cause water retention, another contributor to bloat. Other potassium-rich foods include avocado, dried fruits, winter squash, and spinach.
Eating a variety of bloat-fighting foods is a great way to help keep belly bloat at bay. There are other actions you can take to minimize feelings of bloat. No matter what you eat, try to eat the food slowly. Chewing and swallowing quickly can mean taking in too-large bites of food – this can slow down digestion because these bigger pieces make take longer to break down. It also may increase the amount of air swallowed, which can contribute to bloat, just as drinking carbonated or fizzy beverages and chewy gum also do. Also, be on the lookout for certain ingredients that may trigger bloat — common triggers include sugar alcohols. These are indigestible carbohydrates that are frequently used as sweeteners in sugar-free foods, drinks, chewing gum, and mints. Look for names like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol on ingredients labels. Also, watch out for foods with especially high-fiber content like beans, bran, prunes, and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts) as these can also be regular contributors to bloat for some people.
There are also scads of dietary supplements promising relief from bloat. Regimens include ingredients such as digestive enzymes, herbs, botanicals, and extracts. As with any supplement or therapeutic, it is best to discuss your symptoms with your health care professional before making any changes to your personal health program.