Let’s shed some light, first of all, on what it means when we say we feel bloated. Essentially (if there is no underlying medical condition), bloating is caused by one of two things: trapped air (aka ‘gas’) in your digestive tract (common) or fluid retention (less likely and more frequently encountered in women around their time of the month).
Bloating due to excess air is often caused by bad bacteria producing gas as they ferment (ew!) and feed off sugar inside of you. We all have these nasty creatures in our gut; the challenge lies in maintaining the correct balance of good and bad bacteria, thus avoiding bacterial overgrowth – medically known as dysbiosis or candida (for overgrowth of the bacteria candida albicans). It is worth noting that food intolerances (wheat, dairy etc) can also cause excess gas in the digestive tract.
Most of us are victims of bloating caused by excess air – for some it’s a case of jeans feeling a wee bit tighter than usual; for others bloating can be so extreme that it makes the simplest activities seem unbearable. Whichever end of the scale you’re at, I’m guessing you’d be happy to say goodbye to the bloat once and for all.
Now it may not be possible to banish bloating forever but there are certain things you can do to help reduce its frequency and intensity.
10 golden ‘beat the bloat’ rules:
1. Chew your food properly to activate digestive enzymes
2. Eat your meals in a relaxed setting, preferably at a table
3. Minimize your water intake with meals (1/2 glass max) to avoid diluting your digestive juices
4. Drink filtered water as tap water kills off good bacteria
5. Boost your good bacteria with probiotics (in natural yoghurt or in supplement form for more severe bloating)
6. Avoid foods such as: lentils, beans, cruciferous veggies (cabbage, cauliflower etc), onions (red are OK for some people) and garlic
7. Minimize your intake of yeast (pizza, bread, pastries, yeast added to condiments and sauces, wine, beer) and malted foods (soy sauce, malt added to drinks such as soy milk)
8. Cut back on wheat and replace with other grains such as rye, spelt, quinoa, millet, amaranth…
9. Avoid artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol, aspartame etc) and sugar
10. Say no to chewing gum; when you chew gum, you swallow air!