If you suffer from bloating, you know how uncomfortable it is. Bloating occurs for a variety of reasons, from eating too many salty foods and overdoing it on carbonated drinks to getting too much fiber all at once. It can also be the result of conditions such as PMS and gluten sensitivity. The good news is that it’s possible to remedy and prevent this common problem. Here are some steps you can take to relieve your discomfort.
Cut down on salty foods.
Many fast-food and processed foods are high in sodium, which can cause water retention and result in bloating. We recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily (about the amount in a teaspoon of salt). To cut down on sodium, read labels on all canned, frozen, and other packaged products. Canned soups and broths are two of the biggest offenders, as are certain condiments like ketchup and soy sauce (look for lower-sodium versions). And stay away from salty snack foods, like chips and veggie sticks.
Determine whether you are gluten sensitive.
If you regularly suffer from bloating after a meal, you may have a sensitivity to gluten, the major protein found primarily in wheat, barley, rye, and the products made with these grains. Reducing — and sometimes eliminating — gluten from your diet can help reduce this digestive problem.
Gradually increase your fiber intake.
Fiber-rich vegetables, as well as beans and other legumes, which are “good carb” ,they are generally good for your digestive health, but can cause gas and bloating in some people. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, can be particular offenders. Try eating at least 2 cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner and 1/2 cup with breakfast. However, if you find this amount (along with the legumes) is causing you to feel bloated or constipated, cut back and gradually reintroduce them. Also be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to promote digestion of these high-fiber, bloat-inducing foods.
Limit sugar alcohols.
The sugar alcohols (isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, sorbitol, or xylitol) in sugar-free candies, gum, and other “sugar-free” foods can cause gastrointestinal distress and bloating if you consume them in excessive amounts. Some people are more sensitive than others, so be sure to pay attention to your reaction to foods that contain sugar alcohols. By sticking to our recommendation of enjoying just 75 to 100 calories of sugar-free Sweet Treats a day, you can help reduce the side effects.
Reduce your intake of carbonated drinks.
Carbonated drinks like sugar-free soda and seltzer contain carbon dioxide, which is responsible for the bubbles you see in your glass. Unfortunately, these bubbles can enter the digestive tract and cause gassiness and resultant bloating. If you notice that you feel bloated after having carbonated drinks, cut them out and stick to noncarbonated beverages like water, low-fat milk, or herbal tea for hydration instead.
Studies show that exercise can help with digestion and reduce bloating, as well as constipation. Doing some form of physical activity on a regular basis will help gas pass through the digestive tract more quickly. In addition to your regular exercise program, take a break after lunch for a short walk outside or go for an after dinner walk with a friend or family member.
Try to reduce stress.
Have you ever experienced a gassy stomach when you’re nervous or anxious? Stress can aggravate digestive problems and cause bloating (not to mention ulcers). Manage stress by exercising most days of the week, getting enough sleep each night (at least 8 hours is recommended), and taking time to relax and unwind after a long day. Or, consider taking a day off to enjoy a massage at the spa