Abdominal bloating, is a common gastrointestinal condition where the abdomen feels full, tight, swollen, distended, uncomfortable and sometimes painful, especially after eating. It is usually caused by excess gas production which builds up in the abdomen and/or disturbances in the digestive system.
What foods should I avoid to prevent/reduce bloating?
1. Beans & Lentils
Although beans, legumes, and lentils are a group of food which is rich in protein, fibers, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, most beans also contains Alpha-Galactosides, which is a type of FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols)—short chain carbohydrates which escapes the typical digestion process, but are fermented instead by the gut bacteria in the colon, producing excessive gas as a by-product. These gas builds up in the abdomen, causing abdominal bloating.
FODMAPs may not cause any problem for normal healthy people and is simply a fuel for beneficial digestive bacteria. However, for individuals combating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), FODMAPS may cause major gastrointestinal discomfort including symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.
2. Gaseous / Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated soft drinks contain high amounts of carbon dioxide, which is obviously gas. Swallowing up large amounts of gas increases the chances of gas getting trapped in the digestive system, therefore may cause abdominal discomforts such as bloating and cramping.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts etc)
Although cruciferous vegetables are low calorie healthy options containing many essential nutrients, however, they also contain FODMAPs which for some individuals may cause bloating and abdominal discomfort. Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest.
4. Onion & Garlic (especially raw)
Onions and garlics are the main dietary source of “Fructans” a type of soluble fiber which may cause bloating. Cooked onions and garlics are usually better tolerated and more easily digested than raw onions.
5. Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Butter, Ice-cream)
Dairy, for the general population, is a highly nutritious source of protein and calcium. However, for people who are lactose-intolerant or lack the digestive enzyme “lactase”, they may have a problem breaking down dairy products in their digestive system, which leads to digestive discomforts including gas, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea.
6. Sugar Alcohols (Xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol)
Sugar alcohols are commonly found replacing sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums. Sorbitol can be found in preaches, prunes, and prune juice. These sugar alcohols are FODMAPs which are fermented by the gut bacteria in the large intestine, thereby producing excessive gas as a by-product.
Foods which may help alleviate abdominal bloating:
- Probiotics (Yogurt, Kefir, Kimchi, Kombucha Tea, Miso, Natto, Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Cheese, Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Prebiotic fibers (Asparagus, Banana, Oat, Flaxseed, Wheatbran, Seaweed, Artichoke, Chicory Root, Dandelion Greens, Cucumber, Radish, Wheat, Yam, Quinoa etc)
- Zingibain enzyme - Ginger & Ginger Tea
- Potassium – banana, avocado, pumpkin
- Actinidin enzyme – Kiwi
- Papain enzyme - Papaya
SCQN, BSc (Hons)Dietetics
- Beat the bloat. (2018, October 3).
Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/remedies-for-bloating-and-wind/
- Bloating and Distension.
Retrieved from https://www.iffgd.org/symptoms-causes/bloating-and-distension.html
- Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips.
Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy-woman/conditions/bloating-causes-and-prevention-tips
- Gas and bloating.
Retrieved from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-clinics/cancer-nutrition-services/managing-side-effects/gas-and-bloating.html