Bloating is rarely a sign of a serious health condition, but it can cause pain, discomfort, and insecurity. It may come as no surprise to some that a high percentage of foods in the Standard American Diet lead to bloating or indigestion. Since bloating affects about 13% of the American population, it may be time to look at what you are consuming to resolve your bloating issues.
What Is Bloating?
Bloating occurs when the stomach becomes swollen or sore after eating. While bloating can be a symptom of other digestive issues, many foods also cause bloating, due to the body’s inability to efficiently process and digest them. To set the record straight, bloating is not the same as water retention, which is attributed to increased fluids in the body. If you don’t want to experience bloating anymore, steer clear of these five foods.
While beans contain healthy proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, beans also top the list of foods that cause bloating. Beans contain complex sugars, oligosaccharides, which are difficult for the body to break down. These sugars contain short-chain carbohydrates that escape during digestion and begin to ferment in the digestive tract, ultimately leading to gas and bloating.
The Fix: If you soak the beans before cooking them, your likelihood of experiencing bloating decreases. You can also try to eat adzuki and mung beans, which are much easier to digest.
Due to the high amounts of carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks, drinking sodas or fizzy beverages commonly causes bloating. When you swallow large amounts of gas (carbon dioxide in the case of carbonated beverages), some of that gas gets trapped in the digestive system. This leads to cramping or uncomfortable bloating.
The Fix: You can never go wrong with water. You can also drink herbal tea, freshly made juice, homemade lemonade, or water with fresh fruit in it.
People consume dairy products for protein and calcium because they have been marketed as such. Statistics show that about 75% of the world’s population cannot efficiently digest lactose. This inability to digest dairy products can contribute to a wide range of digestive issues, one of the primary ones being bloating.
The Fix: Start opting for non-dairy plant-based milks instead of dairy products. You can also make your own plant-based milks.
Containing a protein known as gluten, wheat has been a highly debated food in recent years. Despite the evidence that links gluten sensitivity to major digestive problems like bloating, diarrhea, and gas, wheat is still widely consumed. Wheat is also a source of FODMAPs, an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. A lot of people have great difficulty absorbing these molecules and experience bloating as a result.
The Fix: Try to go gluten-free for at least three weeks. If you reintroduce wheat back into your diet and immediately experience bloating, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Great gluten-free options include almond flour, coconut flour, quinoa, and oats.
Many people consume non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners without even realizing it. Artificial sweeteners are in chewing gum, diet beverages, processed foods, candy, and many other packaged foods. Sorbitol, xylitol, and aspartame are three big names to watch out for. These sweeteners cause digestive problems, including bloating and gas, and lead to poor eating habits.
The Fix: Opt for healthy sweeteners like stevia, raw agave syrup, blackstrap molasses, raw honey, or grade A maple syrup.