There are many possible causes of abdominal bloating, including fluid retention, irritable bowel syndrome, SIBO, hormonal changes, infection and in very rare cases cancer.
However, for most people, the cause of bloating is harmless, and it can usually be cleared up by making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, although not always.
Bloating is common in people (16-30% experience bloating) but this is not normal. Your digestive system should be running like a well-oiled machine performing its task in the background, being bloated is a sign that something is not right.
What are the symptoms?
You may feel excessively full after a meal, pain in the stomach, extended belly, excess gas and/or burping. Diarrhoea or constipation and sometimes alternating between the two.
The foods that can cause bloating
Some foods can be more aggravating than others but the ones I see most frequently as the culprits are listed below. These foods are not always unhealthy, on the contrary, they are foods that are great for feeding the good bacteria in your gut. However, you may wish to eliminate these foods while treating the gut, and then re-introduce them slowly once your gut is functioning better.
Read through the list and start paying attention to how these foods make you feel, write it down after every meal for 7-10 days and you will start seeing a pattern.
- Lactose is found in dairy products and lactose intolerance is associated with bloating and excessive gas.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans due to them containing galactans a FODMAP carbohydrate
- Onions, garlic, spring onion, mushrooms, snow peas and cauliflower are also high in FODMAPs
- Sugar alcohols such as sweeteners in chewing gum (aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol) but also found naturally in foods such as plums and prunes.
- If you feel bloated after eating apples, pears or sugary treats you are probably intolerant to fructose
- Sugary foods can cause candida overgrowth and promote inflammation
- Overeating; simply eating too large meals can cause bloating and pain.
- Fatty foods slow down digestion and the emptying of the stomach, which is beneficial for satiety (and possibly help with weight loss),but can be a problem if you have a tendency to bloat.
- Eggs: Gas and bloating are common symptoms of egg allergy.
- Gluten: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelt, barley and some other grains and is hard to digest for most people.
- Carbonated drinks can cause bloating
The best foods for bloating
Becoming more aware of how well your digestive system is working and how you react to certain foods is half the effort. Eliminating the worst offenders will give you relief, but long-term recovery can only be achieved by healing the gut lining while also feeding the good gut bacteria to create a healthy gut microbiome. Read more about best foods for bloating here
Feeding the good bacteria
Eating a high fibre diet is important to make sure you go to the toilet regularly as well as acting as food for the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are helpful in establishing a healthy gut microbiome. Probiotics are found in fermented dairy or sauerkraut, however, if these foods cause bloating avoid them.
Unfortunately, many of the healthy foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics can cause bloating in sensitive individuals and while you exclude these offenders you can
include a FODMAP approved pre and probiotic supplement that will do all the hard work for you without the bloating.
Certain herbs are really useful for reducing the distention and pain associated with bloating and you may be able to pick these up at the pharmacy in tablet form (most effective) or have it as a tea after a meal:
- Caraway seeds
Avoid snacking and eat smaller meals
Avoid overeating and snacking. Giving your digestive system a break between meals will help the gut lining to heal and can reduce bloating overall.
Collagen and glutamine
Include bone broths in your diet. Bone broths contain collagen and glutamine that help heal the gut lining. Alternatively, if this is not your cup of tea, taking a supplement containing collagen and glutamine will also heal the gut lining and improve the immune system.
Avoid eating while stressed
Never eat while stressed as stress prevents proper digestion of food due to the close connection between the gut and the brain (gut-brain connection).
Practice mindful eating; chew your foods thoroughly and slow down your eating will improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
Reduce bloating long term
Looking after your gut is the foundation of all good health, so if you are experiencing bloating take this as a sign that something isn’t right.
Healing the gut lining and feeding the good bacteria in your gut, while simultaneously eliminating the foods that aggravate you is the strategy taken by most naturopaths.
As mentioned above the elimination of foods normally perceived as healthy is only done for a limited time. Most people achieve a positive outcome after eliminating foods while also treating their gut for about 4-6 weeks. Consequently, slowly introduce one food at the time, making sure you wait 3-4 days to detect any symptoms with this particular food before you introduce the next. Always consult your doctor or health practitioner if symptoms persist.
REPAIR has been formulated with collagen, Aloe vera and glutamine to heal the gut lining while also containing superfoods such as Kakadu plum, Astaxanthin, Maqui berry and Dunaliella salina to boost hair skin and nails. Pectin and pomegranate husk may help manage the good and bad bacteria in your gut
FEED has been formulated with FODMAP approved prebiotics in the exact dosages that have been clinically proven to have a positive effect on the microbiome. FEED also contains probiotics for a healthy digestion and immune system
- Tags: Bloating