Food affects each of us differently, but there some foods that have been proven to cause bloating. To help you steer clear of the bad stuff, here's a list of 10 troublesome foods to avoid...
The Bad Stuff
Consuming alcohol often leads to puffiness and bloating, because alcohol actually causes the body to retain water. Alcohol can also cause constipation, which contributes to bloating and discomfort. Not to mention, carbonated alcoholic drinks like beer also contain carbon dioxide and fermentable carbs, two common causes of bloating. On top of that, grains used to brew beer (including wheat, rye and barley), often contain gluten, which is another common cause of bloating.
2. Soft drinks
Soft drinks (and other carbonated drinks) make you swallow a lot more air than usual. Since a lot of bloating is caused by excess gas in the digestive track, so soft drinks are an obvious thing to avoid. In much the same way, chewing gum also has this effect on digestion.
3. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale) are fantastic for your body. They’re high in nutrients including folate, vitamin C, and fibre, and are even thought to help prevent cancer. However, they also contain the carbohydrate raffinose, which causes bloating. Raffinose is difficult to digest because we lack the right enzyme, and is instead fermented by the bacteria in our tummies... Yuck. Don’t stress though, these veggies are easier to digest when roasted or steamed, so give it a shot before you give them up completely!
Coffee is acidic and can irritate the lining of the gut, which leads to bloating, especially if you have a sensitive stomach or have not eaten. This is worsened when combined with sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive, putting milk in your coffee will make things even worse.
Your favourite movie snack may be causing your bloated tummy. You may not be consuming a large number of carbs, but because of its volume, popcorn takes up a lot of room in your stomach and temporarily causes it to expand.
6. Raw spinach
Spinach contains a lot of soluble fibre, which is great for you but difficult to digest. It also has ‘oligosaccharides’ which are a type of sugar that ferments in the stomach. Spinach is far easier to digest when it’s been partially broken down, either blitzed in a smoothie or sautéed in a bit of oil.
Legumes including beans, soybeans, peas and lentils contain large amounts of fibre and protein. Whilst this is good and makes legumes an important part of a balanced diet, it also makes them hard to break down. Like many foods on this list, because our bodies cannot digest this fibre, bacteria in the gut ferments and causes gas and bloating. Soaking dried beans and lentils overnight to help break down fibre is a great way to avoid this.
Like spinach, onions contain oligosaccharides in the form of fructans, that the small intestine cannot break down.
Like alcohol, ingesting too much salt causes the body to retain water and bloat. Be careful, a lot of pre-packaged and processed foods usually contain a large amount of salt.
Dairy products (milk, cheese, cream etc.) contain a type of sugar called lactose. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, and those with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of it, which leads to significant bloating among other things. If you think you may have an intolerance or have trouble digesting dairy, try using non-dairy substitutes like soy or almond milk and talk to a doctor.
It’s important to note that lifestyle factors also affect bloating. Stress, smoking and sitting all day are all causes of bloating and discomfort. A good way to check if a food is likely to cause tummy trouble is by finding if it contains ‘FODMAPs’, (the short-chain carbohydrates that our bodies have trouble digesting and end up ferment with bacteria). Also, if bloating persists, have a chat to your GP about it.