No one likes feeling bloated - full of gas, like a balloon, with no outlet (apart from an inevitable one, eventually). Bypass the discomfort of tummy cramps and the distended belly by thinking food smart.
This week is Gut Week, when a spotlight shines over the foods that lead to a healthy gut. The website says: "One common reason we may become bloated may be that we have an imbalance in the gut flora. For example, this may be due to going travelling or having a stomach bug.
"Constipation is another known factor in increased gas and having that bloated feeling. Interestingly densities of the well-known beneficial bacterial species Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus were observed to be lower in patients with constipation, and concentrations of potentially pathogenic bacteria and yeasts such as candida albicans may be higher. These often produce hydrogen or methane gas which contributes to making your stomach feeling uncomfortable however the symptoms will be alleviated once this imbalance has been corrected."
For some people, bloating can also happen when you hoover up your meal too quickly. Recent research from Gut Week has revealed that 33% of us gobble down lunch in under 10 minutes.
One recommendation from Gut Week experts is that you should look at your stools to gauge how healthy your diet is. If you'd rather avoid the poo-gazing, read on for an expert slideshow from HuffPost Canada which reveals which foods are making you bloat.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Processed Food
Although tasty, TV dinners, canned soup or vegetables, condiments and sauces can cause bloating. Foods that contain a high amount of sodium cause the body to retain more water, says Rosanna Lee, <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rosanna-lee/23/79b/1b3">a nutrition educator and community health promoter</a> based in Toronto. This often happens because our bodies are trying to dilute salt to maintain a balance of electrolytes.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Lots Of Carbs
Pasta, bagels, cereal, rice and other foods that have a high amount of carbohydrates tend to cause your body to store three times more water compared to protein, Lee says. Instead of loading up on carbs, add more lean proteins like chicken breast or salmon.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Cruciferous Vegetables
You may finally have a reason not to eat your vegetables. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and collard greens have been found to cause bloating. "These foods contain tiny sugars that are difficult to digest for certain individuals, causing unwanted gas," Lee says.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Sugar Substitutes
Sugar alcohol sweeteners like mannitol, maltitol and sorbitol tend to cause bloating in the form of stomach gas. If you do use sugar substitutes, aim for alternatives like honey, agave, yellow, brown or white sugar in small amounts to sweeten your foods.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Carbonated Drinks
Pop, fizzy water or other carbonated beverages can also cause excessive bloating. If you're hooked on your daily Diet Coke, you may also want to leave the can open before drinking it, or gently shake it to let out some carbonation. Adding ice can also cut carbonation.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Legumes
Beans, peas and lentils are also culprits. However, this doesn’t mean you can never have your favourite bean burrito. "Once your body gets used to digesting such foods, the symptoms of bloating might actually ease up. If you are not sure how much legumes you should be eating, try a little bit at a time and gradually increase your serving size according to your comfort level," she says.
MAKES YOU BLOAT: Fibre Supplements
Individuals who take inulin or psyllium with their meals may also experience bloating. "Although it's beneficial in fighting constipation, too much fibre at once might have the opposite effect," Lee says. If you have a high-fibre diet, don’t forget to drink plenty of water with your foods and supplements. Fibre absorbs water and this makes it easier for it to move through the digestive tract.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Cooked Vegetables
But what relieves bloating? Eating vegetables cooked versus raw actually reduces the amount of gas your body produces while digesting, Lee says. "The process of cooking breaks down some of the tough fibres so your body doesn't have to." And remember, aim to eat vegetables that are non-cruciferous to reduce gas.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Garlic
Studies have found that <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-90644/Is-garlic-natures-best-medicine.html" target="_blank">garlic stimulates digestion</a>. It is also considered an antifugal, antiviral and antibacterial food that can help our bodies break down foods that lead to gas.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Melons
Watermelons contain 92 per cent water and are an excellent choice to prevent bloating. Melons, including honeydew and cantaloupe, also help your body flush out excess sodium.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Citrus Fruits
Oranges and grapefruits are loaded with vitamin C and fibre, but also contain 80 to 90 per cent water which is ideal for preventing bloating and gas.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Pineapple
This tropical fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain that breaks down proteins and promotes healthy digestion, Lee says. Pineapples are also largely water-based at 85 per cent.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Low Sodium Foods
Foods that contain between 5 to 14 per cent sodium and have the <a href="http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/sodium-eng.php" target="_blank">average daily intake amount for your age,</a> are also good choices. "Less sodium in your diet not only helps control your blood pressure, but it also helps stave off bloating."
RELIEVES BLOATING: Water
Drinking water will help you flush excess salt in your body, while keeping things moving.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Yogurt
The healthy or “good” bacteria found in yogurt can promote gut bacteria balance and reduce excess gas that may build up in your digestive system over time.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Selected Supplements
Enzymes or probiotic supplements have been found to reduce bloating by helping your body break down complex carbohydrates and certain sugars.
RELIEVES BLOATING: Tea
Studies have found that drinking ginger, peppermint or fennel tea helps reduce bloating as well. You can also take these in herbal supplement forms, but it is best to consult a doctor before you do.