The question: I feel bloated all the time. How can I change my diet to get rid of this feeling?
The answer: There are few things that feel worse than being bloated. Even mild bloating can cause abdominal discomfort. The good news is there are changes you can make to your diet that may very well eliminate bloating.
Bloating refers to gas buildup in the stomach and intestines that can be caused by several factors. The first is that you are just producing more gas – and that’s usually caused by diet. Second is that the time it takes for gas to move through the intestinal tract is slowed, which is often the case in chronic constipation. Lactose intolerance – the inability to properly digest milk sugar – can also cause bloating.
Begin byassessing your diet for foods that may cause gas and bloating. Many people find gas-producing vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower give them grief. These vegetables contain a type of carbohydrate called raffinose that gets broken down in the large intestine by bacteria. This, in turn, produces gas. You don’t need to avoid these healthy foods. If they bother you, eating smaller portions and eating them cooked rather than raw can help to reduce gas.
Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans also contain carbohydrates that are fermented in the large intestine. If beans bother you, you can take a digestive enzyme supplement with meals called Beano. Beano can be used for all gassy foods, not just beans. It helps break down the gas-producing sugars in foods.
Other foods that can cause bloating include whey protein powders, protein bars and foods made with sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners called sorbitol, mannitol, or maltitol. These sugar alcohols are found in many diet foods and sugar-free gums and hard candies.
Carbonated drinks can also cause gas to be trapped in the stomach. If bloating is an issue, I recommend that people avoid carbonated drinks and stick to plain water with lemon. If you chew gum during the day, give up this habit. Chewing gum can lead to swallowing air, which can cause bloating.
Some studies suggest that peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple and parsley can reduce bloating. Probiotic supplements may also help ease bloating symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome. If constipation the cause of your bloating, getting more fibre and water can help. You will need to treat the constipation in order to get rid of the bloating.
One final tip that may apply: Don’t eat too fast. Eating quickly and not thoroughly chewing your food can cause you to swallow too much air, which again can lead to bloating.
Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on the Globe website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
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