Bloat. We’ve all had it at one time or another.
That icky gut feeling that makes you feel like your stomach is blown up like a taut balloon, and you look like you swallowed a beachball.
Bloat is a natural reaction that is usually caused by a build-up of gas in the stomach and/or intestines. If the bloat is mild, it might slowly disappear as you burp or pass gas. But more severe and long-lasting bloat can be caused by a few different things.
The key to relieving more severe bloat lies in identifying what is causing the gas to form. While there are several causes of bloat, the most common trigger is food. I’m going to tell you the five worst foods that trigger bloat and mess with your gut.
Items like broccoli, kale, and cabbage have long been known to cause bloat. These cruciferous vegetables contain sugar that doesn’t automatically break down. The sugar (raffinose) sits in your gut undigested until other bacteria already present in your gut break it down.
But, it’s important to keep in mind that leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fiber, as well as other nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. And some leafy greens can help fuel the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
And key information here:
Greens are very important to your health and help your body digest these important nutrients. Consider taking a digestive enzyme like Enzymedica before you crush those phytonutrients!
Remember that childhood rhyme about beans? Beans are legumes, as are peas and lentils. While some legumes are good protein, they are mostly made up of fibers and sugars that our bodies find difficult to digest.
Your gut knows they need to be broken down, but because of their composition, they take a lot more gut bacteria to get the job done. The volume necessary to break down legumes causes gas, which causes bloating.
Without a doubt, dairy products such as cheese and ice cream (or really anything with milk as an ingredient) are some of the worst offenders when it comes to bloat. Just like the cruciferous vegetables mentioned above, most dairy products contain a sugar (in this case, lactose) that your body may have trouble breaking down. This inability would be due to the lack of the necessary enzymes.
Apples are high in fiber, yes, but they also contain the sugars sorbitol and fructose. As we saw above, some sugars are difficult for people to digest. And, also like above, the gut has to work overtime to break the sugars down, which causes bloat.
In case you couldn’t tell, foods with sugars are often the main culprit of causing bloat. But it’s not limited to sugars.
I know this is more of a category than a specific type of food, but it’s so broad it must be addressed this way. When you read “salty foods” you may instantly think of putting salt on foods, such as French fries, baked potatoes, eggs, etc.
While adding salt to foods is certainly a contributing factor, you should also consider the amount of sodium that is found across your diet…especially if your diet happens to contain large amounts of processed foods.
Canned soup, bread, and prepackaged foods often have a ton of sodium in them. The next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at the sodium column on some of the foods you usually buy. You might be unpleasantly surprised. Packaged foods contain more sodium to keep them “fresh” on the shelf longer. Totally makes sense, right?
Regardless of where the salt is coming from, sodium causes water retention which leads to (you guessed it) bloat.
Even some drinks can cause bloat. Fizzy drinks like colas or even seltzer water can add to gas build-up in your stomach. Some juices, such as apple and prune, are not so great either.
Additionally, alcohol can absolutely destroy your digestive system. Alcohol sugars act much in the same way as fruit sugars; plus, alcohol is an irritant that not only can slow your reflexes but also the production of your digestive juices.
Interestingly, it might not actually be the type of alcohol that matters, but rather what is mixed with the alcohol. For example, vodka itself might not cause bloat, but the sugary or carbonated mixer you have with the vodka could do it. And beer bellies are the result of both carbonation and the barley in the beer that ferments, causing a build up of gas.
The foods listed above could make anyone bloat. But there can also be more severe causes.
Bloating can also be a major sign of food intolerance. For example, people who have celiac disease often experience bloating if they eat something that has gluten in it. But food intolerances aren’t limited to that; anything that your body has trouble processing can cause bloat.
There you have it: five of the worst foods for messing with your gut and causing bloat. What are you supposed to do about it? The obvious answer of “avoid those foods” doesn’t completely address the issue and you could miss out on some good vitamins if you cut something out entirely.
So, join me next week, and I’ll give you some tips to getting rid of bloat naturally. Until then….!
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