When it comes down to it, an excess of gas is what causes most bloating in your system. The first symptom of excess gas is a puffed out stomach. As the stomach expands, the gas puts pressure on your organs and this can cause moderate to severe discomfort. Finally, there are only two places that the gas can exit the body and both can be extremely embarrassing!
About half of the excess gas in our body comes from swallowed air, usually caused by the way we eat. When we eat quickly we often take big gulps of air in between poorly chewed bites. This air gets trapped behind the food, which can cause our stomach to bloat. By slowing down and thoroughly chewing your food, you can reduce this bloated feeling and ultimately improve your digestion system.
The other half of the gas in our body is the by-product of digestion. This is perfectly normal and actually beneficial. However, some foods are harder to digest and can cause painful and embarrassing bloating. Here are the biggest bloat culprits:
Beans and Legumes
“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…” This one is so common that they even made a song about it! It’s the fiber in beans and legumes that is blamed, but the bloating is actually caused by a sugar that is very hard for some people to break down. If you have a hard time with beans, try eating them in moderation first. If that doesn’t work, you can always add a digestive enzyme that gives your body the tools it needs to break down those sugars and save you a lot of discomfort.
Broccoli, Asparagus and Cabbage
The cruciferous vegetables contain a carbohydrate called raffinose, which can ferment in the large intestine and cause excess gas. Again, eating these in moderation usually alleviates the discomfort. You can also try to cook these vegetables as that can help makes them easier to digest.
Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners are found in most gum and sugar-free products like protein bars and diet drinks. These alcohols also ferment in your gut and can cause bloating along with other digestive issues. Skip the sugar free varieties and choose products sweetened with small amounts of real/natural sugar. Ideally, you should be opting for products with 5g of sugar or less per serving.
Many people have turned to dairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk to reduce gas and bloating. However, some of these products have an emulsifier called carrageenan. This can aggravate your intestines and increase gas, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Luckily, carrageenan is not found in all dairy alternatives. The best way to avoid it is to look at the ingredients list. If you see it listed put that product back and find an alternative.
Sometimes alleviating your bloated stomach is not just about what you should be limiting in your diet, but rather what you should be adding – for example, water and probiotics. Visit my recent Total Gym Pulse post Foods that Reduce Bloating to learn about more ways to get rid of bloat!