Hate feeling puffed up after a meal? Keep your digestive system humming along by eating flat-belly foods and avoiding those that bloat.
Where’s that bloat coming from?
If you’re feeling uncomfortably bloated after meals, it’s time to reconsider what you’re consuming. We asked a nutritionist for the top foods that cause bloating, as well as the seven best foods to eat to relieve bloating and gas.
Worst: Broccoli, cabbage, kale
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage contain raffinose, a sugar that remains undigested until bacteria in your gut ferment it. This causes you to inflate and create gas. But hold off on avoiding those nutritious greens just yet. “Eating nutrient-dense, high-fiber foods on a regular basis leads to a stronger, healthier digestive tract that is less prone to bloating,” Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, a contributing nutrition editor at Health, explains.
So keep eating your greens, but keep your portions in check. If you can’t bear giving up even a gramme of kale, steam it instead: “Cooking any vegetable softens the fibre and compresses the portion as some of the water cooks off, so it takes up less space in the GI tract,” Sass explains. It won’t completely remove or avoid bloating, but it might make your vegetables simpler to digest.
Beans, lentils, soybeans, and peas are all gas-producing foods, as are lentils, soybeans, and peas. They’re basically protein bursts in a pod, but they also contain carbohydrates and fibres that our bodies can’t digest. As a result, when legumes reach the big intestine, your gut bacteria seize command and gorge themselves. Gas is produced as a result of this process, which might cause your waist to expand.
Combine beans with healthful grains that are easy to digest, such as rice or quinoa. They will ultimately become second nature to your body. “If you consume fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and beans on a regular basis, they won’t upset you as much as if you eat them infrequently,” Sass explains.
If a couple slices of cheese or a bowl of cereal with milk makes you feel gassy, you may be lactose intolerant, which means your body lacks the enzymes needed to break down lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). This can result in the formation of gas in the GI tract, which can lead to bloating.
So, before all that gas catches up with you, avoid dairy products and instead go for one of the many lactose-free or nondairy options available. Lactase tablets, such as Lactaid, are also recommended by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) to help patients digest lactose-containing diets.
An apple a day may keep you from going to the doctor, but it won’t keep the bloat away. Apples are high in fibre, but they also include fructose and sorbitol, which are sugars present in fruits that many individuals can’t tolerate, according to Sass. What’s the end result? You guessed it: gas and the accompanying puffiness.
Apples, on the other hand, are a terrific snack, so don’t give up on them completely. “Eating apples has been associated to a lower risk of heart disease and respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema,” Sass explains. Eat them in moderation and separate from meals, and plan your meals accordingly: “If you’re going to be wearing a form-fitting dress or a bathing suit, you might not want to grab for an apple,” Sass advises. Pears, peaches, and prunes are among other fruits that cause bloating.
Worst: Salty foods
According to Sass, eating high-sodium foods can cause water retention, which can cause you to inflate up. However, avoiding sodium is more complicated than avoiding the saltshaker. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90% of Americans consume more sodium than is advised for a balanced diet (2,300 mg per day for most people, and 1,500 mg for adults over 50, plus people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high risk of hypertension). Most processed and packaged foods, including soups, breads, and several other surprisingly salty foods, contain sodium. As a result, avoiding it is extremely tough. If you do succumb to salt, make sure to drink plenty of water to help flush it out.
Cucumbers are commonly used to reduce puffiness around the eyes, and you can consume them to do the same for your stomach. According to Sass, the vegetable includes quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that aids in the reduction of edoema.
“The activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes has been proven to be inhibited by cucumbers,” she says. So cut it up and consume it plain, or replace sugary drinks with cucumber water.
Potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, avocados, kiwis, oranges, and pistachios, help to minimise water retention by controlling sodium levels in the body, reducing salt-induced bloating. Soluble fibre in bananas can help treat or prevent constipation.
Constipation can also induce bloating, according to Sass. “If you can’t get waste out of your GI system, you become ‘backed up,’ which can give you a bloated appearance.”
Papain, a papaya enzyme, aids digestion by breaking down proteins in the gastrointestinal tract. According to Sass, the tropical fruit also includes anti-inflammatory qualities and fibre that help maintain a healthy digestive system. Papaya can be eaten whole or mixed into a smoothie.
Asparagus is a powerful anti-bloating vegetable. Sure, it makes your urine smell, but it also makes you urinate, which helps you drain out all that extra water and relieves bloating and pain.
According to Sass, it also includes prebiotics, which aid in the formation of ‘healthy’ bacteria. This helps to keep your digestive system in a healthy balance, preventing and/or reducing flatulence.
Finally, the vegetable contains both soluble and insoluble fibres, which aid in the overall health of the digestive system.
Best: Yogurt with probiotics
Get some of those beneficial bacteria into your intestines! Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and promote the overall health of your digestive tract. You can take probiotic supplements if you like, but why not make a breakfast out of it?
So eat yoghurt with active cultures to get rid of your bloat. It can be sweetened with honey, jam, or granola.
Best: Fennel seeds
Fennel is a digestive system healer. According to Sass, the seeds contain a chemical that relaxes GI spasms, allowing gas to flow and relieving bloating. You can either immediately eat the seeds or drink fennel tea at the conclusion of a meal.
Zingibain, a digestive enzyme found in ginger, aids in the breakdown of protein in the digestive system. The chemical may aid in the digestion of food, reducing bloating, gas, and constipation.
You probably don’t want to eat if you’re already bloated, so sip homemade ginger tea instead: In a mug of boiling water, steep a few slices of sliced ginger for five to ten minutes.
Best: Peppermint and chamomile tea
Sip a hot cup of peppermint or chamomile tea if you’re feeling puffy after dinner. Both types help to remove the gas that causes your stomach to bloat by relaxing GI muscles. Apart from aiding digestion, chamomile can also soothe and relax the stomach, which can help alleviate any stomach discomfort.