How to prevent bloating

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Many people experience occasional abdominal bloating, which can be bothersome but manageable with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Here are some ways to avoid bloating and digestive discomfort:

  • Eat mindfully – Eat smaller meals and chew your food carefully. Slow down and enjoy your food.
  • Limit offending foods where possible – There are many foods that can cause gas‐build up in the intestines and associated bloating in some people. Common offenders include beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, peaches, pears, carbonated drinks, chewing gum and some whole grains.1 Write a food diary to identify which foods may be causing your discomfort. Keeping a diary may also reveal some foods that you can tolerate but in smaller amounts.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners – Sugar substitutes such as mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol are difficult for the body to digest1 and can be the cause of needing to loosen the top button. These are commonly found in sugar‐free foods, lollies and chewing gum.
  • Identify food intolerances – When you’re unable to digest and absorb certain components of foods, it can lead to bloating and discomfort. If you’re lactose intolerant it means you don’t have enough of the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk and milk products (lactase) therefore these foods should be avoided where possible. A lactase supplement could also be considered.
  • Avoid becoming constipareted – Constipation can often cause bloating so it’s important to stay regular by consuming enough fiber, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and never ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Limit salt intake – Excess salt leads to water retention, which can contribute to feeling bloated. Look out for hidden salt in packaged and canned foods.
  • Try peppermint tea – Peppermint helps relax the muscles that allow painful digestive gas to pass.2
  • Take a probiotic – A disruption of the normal balance of bacteria in the intestines can cause bloating in some people and may be caused by a course of antibiotics, stress or digestive problems. Taking a probiotic supplement can help restore a healthy balance and relieve bloating, gas and flatulence.
  • Consider digestive enzymes – Digestive enzymes aid digestion by assisting the breakdown of food. Each enzyme is responsible for different food components, for example, amylase breaks down carbohydrates, protease breaks down protein and lipase breaks down fats. Digestive enzymes can also be found in some foods, for example, papain is derived from paw paw and bromelain is derived from pineapple.
  • Consider digestive support herbs – Herbs such as ginger and fenugreek can aid healthy digestion and help relieve digestive discomfort. These can be added to meals or taken as a supplement.

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Published February 25, 2015
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