These Are Some of the Best Ways to Prevent Bloating
No one likes the uncomfortable, bloated feeling of trapped gas, pressure, and/or fullness after eating. Yet, research indicates that 15-30 % of the U.S. population experiences these unpleasant bloating symptoms.
But you don’t have to!
If you often find yourself full or bloated after a meal, here are several tips you can try to help prevent bloating.
8 Ways to Reduce or Prevent Bloating After Eating
1. Skip Intolerant/Allergic Foods
Nearly 20% of the general population experiences some form of food intolerance or allergy, which may cause occasional bloating. When you’re intolerant or allergic to a specific food, it can cause gas to become trapped inside the gastrointestinal tract (GI), which can lead to bloating.
Try to identify your problem foods through the process of elimination. Avoiding the bad foods may help reduce bloating. Milk products, wheat, and gluten are among the most common foods that cause reactions.
2. Watch Your Fiber
Getting plenty of fiber in your diet is a basic tenet of good health. However, certain high-fiber vegetables, fruits, and legumes can really put the “b” in bloating. That’s because they aren’t fully absorbed in the small intestine and make their way down to the large intestine where they’re broken down by bacteria in your gut, which causes gas and, you guessed it, bloating.
Experts recommend skipping high-fiber foods known to be gassy if you wish to avoid bloating. Here are some of the most common:
- Fruits – apples, oranges, pears, and stone fruits
- Grains – whole oats
- Legumes – beans and lentils
- Vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower
(Note: these foods are so nutritious, you might want to consume them anyway and use some of the other recommendations to prevent bloating listed below.)
Instead of those foods, choose less gassy options such as:
- Fruits – berries, cherries, grapes, and cantaloupe
- Grains – rice and quinoa
- Vegetables – bell peppers, fennel, spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, yams, and zucchini
3. Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are notorious for causing digestive issues. They reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them and cause bloating. They’re commonly found in sugar-free baked goods and chewing gums.
Instead, you can try erythritol, which is a little easier on digestive system. Or try stevia, another healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols.
4. High-Fat Foods
Healthy fats are essential to wellness, and dietary guidelines suggest that 20-35% of your daily intake should be comprised of them. Balanced meals with some sources of good fats can create a sense of fullness, slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, and add flavor to food.
However, the slower processing of fats can cause issues. In some people, foods that contain high amounts of fat can create a delay in the stomach’s emptying process. One study examining the diets of people who have stomach emptying problems found that high-fat meals exacerbated bloating.
Of course, this applies to the less-healthy fats found in chips, pastries, and fried foods since saturated vegetable oils and trans fats can negatively affect digestion. But it also can happen with healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados. It’s recommended that you closely monitor how your body responds to healthy fats, perhaps by keeping consumption moderate, and avoiding the less healthy options altogether.
5. Avoid Swallowing Air
Believe it or not, certain activities can make you swallow air. This air can build up in the GI tract and cause bloating in some people.
For example, drinking carbonated sodas can allow carbon dioxide to get into your digestive system and cause bloating. Other common air-swallowing activities may include chewing gum, talking while eating, eating too fast, drinking with a straw, smoking, and breathing through your mouth. Avoid them to minimize bloating.
6. Try Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics
Digestive enzymes can help break down food, improve nutrient absorption, and support healthy digestion, which can help reduce bloating.
According to Johns Hopkins Health, alpha-galactosidase is particularly useful in breaking down a non-absorbable fiber called galactooligosaccharides (GOS), which is found in beans, root vegetables, and some dairy products. While GOS is known to be a healthy fiber, it can cause gas and bloating in some individuals.
Other digestive enzymes may include amylase, lipase, and protease, which help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Probiotic supplements can be helpful too. They help to support healthy bacterial populations in your gut. Balanced microflora in your gut can help decrease bloating.
7. Drink Herbal Teas
Ginger and other herbs (peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, etc.) have been used to soothe digestive issues for hundreds of years.
Some research indicates that ginger may help speed up stomach emptying, relieve digestive upset, and reduce intestinal cramping, bloating, and gas. Peppermint oil has been shown to help with digestion and bloating.
Enjoy a cup of ginger, lemon, or mint tea after a meal to help reduce bloating.
8. Take a Post-Meal Walk
Light exercise, such as an easy walk after a meal, can do wonders for digestion and help reduce bloating.
In fact, research shows that light physical exercise can help reduce gas from the GI tract and relieve bloating. Also, a walk can help boost your mood!
These tips may help prevent bloating. However, if you find that you’re consistently experiencing bloating and/or discomfort after eating, it could be a sign of a more serious digestive or medical issue. In such cases, be sure to consult with your medical doctor.
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