Bloating and gas result from the natural digestion of foods, especially fibers, and from swallowing air as a result of everyday habits. As a result, reducing the amount of gas-producing foods you eat and changing some of your eating habits can significantly reduce the discomfort from gas, belching, and bloating.
Fiber found in many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can contribute to gas and bloating. Since these are also very nutritious foods, you don't want to permanently eliminate high fiber foods from your diet. Keep a food diary to see if your symptoms are worse after eating particular foods. If so, eliminate these foods, and very gradually add them back in to your diet to build up your tolerance for them. As you increase your fiber intake gradually, drink plenty of water to reduce the bloating symptoms. The biggest culprit foods are cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage and legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils. There's nothing you can do to foods to reduce the amount of gas they produce, except ensuring that dried beans are properly soaked before cooking them.
Dairy can also cause gas and bloating if you are lactose intolerant, so a lactase supplement or lactose-free milk will reduce symptoms in those individuals.
Air ingestion from everyday habits can cause gas and bloating. To minimize symptoms caused by swallowing air, try these tips.
- Avoid carbonated beverages
- Avoid using straws
- Avoid chewing gum or smoking
- Eat more slowly
- Chew food thoroughly
- Avoid overeating
- Ensure dentures fit properly
- Stay physically active to keep the digestive system moving
Yogurt can also improve symptoms, due to it's amount of "healthy" bacteria, although a probiotic supplement may be more effective.
Some people report a relief of symptoms from certain herbs and spices including fennel, rosemary, ginger, and peppermint, but the most important thing you can add to your diet to minimize bloating is water to help aid in the digestion of fiber.
While uncomfortable at times, gas, belching, and bloating are normal. If you believe your symptoms to be excessive, speak to your physician. He may recommend an over-the-counter medication or enzyme-based supplement (such as prebiotics, probiotics, lactase, simethicone, Beano, etc.), depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms.
To schedule a 30-minute nutrition consultation with Michaela Kruse, RD, LDN, see Member Services or call 356-6543.