Most people are quite familiar with the feeling of being bloated – uncomfortable, stomach stretched to the max, feeling over full, gas and pain. It’s likely happened to everyone at least once in their life and it can be caused by a number of different things.
Most commonly, it’s related to eating particular foods (especially if you have intolerances, diagnosed or not yet diagnosed), overeating or eating too fast. Changes in hormones can also lead to bloating and this is especially true for people who menstruate. Aaaamirightladies?!
While it may feel like it’s something that has just become part of your life, bloating regularly, is not normal (even though it may be common) and is a sign that your body is struggling to deal with what’s in your gut.
Can foods actually reduce bloating?
The bacteria we have in our gut can influence how we respond to certain foods. We need a good mix of bacteria in there to help breakdown the foods we are eating. Most people have heard of prebiotic and probiotics and while you can buy these in pill form, you often don’t need to with strategic selection of foods.
Yoghurt and fermented foods
Are packed with probiotic bacteria, which help to create a great environment for digesting food. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled and/or fermented beetroot/carrot/radish, kefir, kombucha, etc. When it comes to yoghurt, it’s not just for dairy lovers, non-dairy yoghurts also include beneficial bacteria so everyone can get in on the gut-loving action!
Fruits and vegetables
Are at the other end of the spectrum in terms of what they provide. They don’t contain bacteria but they do contain fibre which provides the nutrients your gut bacteria need to thrive. Legumes (lentils, black beans, chickpeas, etc.) nuts and seeds and whole grains (e.g. rye, oats, etc.) are also fantastic sources of fibre and are so easy to include in your day.
Where you eat and the speed at which you eat is also important. The faster you eat, the more air you’re likely to take in as you eat and this can lead to bloating… so slooooow down. Eating while sitting down, or at least standing still, will also help to minimise your chance of bloating, especially when snacking.
So there you have it, to keep your bloating at bay, make sure you eat slowly and mindfully, aiming for a balanced diet. Look after your gut health by reducing gut irritants like processed foods, soft drinks and alcohol whilst including natural probiotic sources from fermented foods and prebiotic fibres from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Make water your friend and move your body often.
If your bloating continues then there might be something else at play and it’s best to get some expert advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP.