7 Foods That Fight Bloat and Inflammation
If you’re like most people, you’re quite familiar with bloat on a first-person basis. Bloat, that overly distended and highly uncomfortable feeling you get in your mid-section can be a pain, both physically and emotionally, and is often the result of having too much gas or air inside your stomach. But did you know there are actually foods that fight bloat and inflammation?
How does the gas get there? According to Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness, it can be placed there either by swallowing it or as a byproduct of the digestion process. “When we gulp liquids or foods too quickly, we may swallow larger amounts of air in the process that can then become trapped in the stomach and even get pushed further down leading to bloating in the intestines,” he explains.
Additional gas may be produced by the types of foods you eat. In fact, Dr. Adams points out that some of the healthiest foods may be some of the most gas-producing in our diets, especially foods like raw vegetables, which are a bit tougher to digest. “These cause more gas than when they are lightly cooked,” he adds.
Another possible cause of bloating? Inflammation in the gut, which functional nutritional therapy practitioner Tansy Rodgers, F.N.T.P., explains is a protective measure your body takes to let you know that something is off. “Whatever the cause, the more that your gut stays inflamed, the less your digestive process can work properly,” she says. “This can lead to leaky gut, which causes a systemic inflammatory response that can present as IBS, mood imbalances, fatigue, joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, skin problems, nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, etc.”
Needless to say, bloat and inflammation are two things you don’t want going on in your body. And the best way to prevent them is to fill your plate with the right foods.
Here, nutrition experts share the foods that fight bloat and inflammation.
This creamy green fruit (yes, fruit) is an excellent bloat and inflammation fighter. In addition to their high volume of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, avocados are high in fiber and potassium. “Potassium serves to reduce water-retention and the fiber helps encourage regularity to prevent constipation and bloating,” says Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University and author of “What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant.” She recommends aiming to consume at least ⅓ of a medium-sized avocado daily on salad, toast or in a smoothie.
There’s a good reason this tea has been consumed by humans for hundreds of thousands of years. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also chock full of health benefits, including fighting inflammation. “Green tea is filled with antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, reducing inflammation,” says Dr. Avena. “It also contains caffeine which is a stimulant for digestive tract movement.” Instead of coffee or orange juice, she recommends starting your morning with a cup of green tea.
“Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has strong anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants,” explains Chelsea Rose Geyer, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. You can incorporate this spice as a seasoning in your meals, over a salad, in a tea or supplement form.
Dark leafy greens
You probably already know that greens are good for you, but might not realize that certain ones are more beneficial for your gut than others, namely the dark, leafy kind. They’re great for both inflammation and bloating, according to Geyer. She recommends adding several handfuls of leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens to your smoothie in a salad or sauteing them up in a stir-fry.
Berries such as blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are low in sugar and full of antioxidants to help fight off inflammation, Geyer explains. “Not only are low-sugar fruits essential for helping decrease bloating, as too much sugar can cause stomach distress and dysbiosis, but berries are also high in fiber, which feeds your body’s good-gut bacteria,” she says. To score these nutrients, she recommends adding ¼ cup to your daily breakfast or in a smoothie.
To get more of that good-gut bacteria in your system that helps fight bloating, inflammation and other digestive issues, one of the best things you can do is consume probiotics, which are found in a bevy of foods including kefir, raw sauerkraut, low sugar yogurt, kimchi, and other fermented veggies. “Just 1-2 servings per day can help to repopulate the gut—just make sure that you look for sources that are fermented and not excessively heated to maintain the healing properties,” says Geyer. “If getting these in regularly is challenging or if you have a yeast overgrowth and fermented foods are not the best choice, then taking a probiotic supplement is an excellent alternative.”
Apple cider vinegar
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar may have been recently highlighted thanks to social media platform sites like Instagram and TikTok, but it’s actually been used for decades prior as a digestive aid. “Apple cider vinegar helps balance blood sugar, metabolism, and adds good bacteria to the small intestines,” says Rodgers. “Not only that, but it also helps to bring your stomach acid back into balance, an essential part of gut health.” She recommends mixing 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and drinking it before a meal to help decrease bloating.
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