If you’re like most people, you’re quite familiar with bloat. Bloat, that overly distended and highly uncomfortable feeling you get in your midsection 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?
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How does the gas get there?
According to Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., gas can be lodged in the stomach 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.
Possible causes 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.”
Food can also attribute to bloating and inflammation, specifically items like beans, dairy, wheat, fatty foods, beer, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, or onions. All these foods are harder to digest, and thus produce more gas in your body, making you bloated and uncomfortable.
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.
Foods You Should Eat
This creamy green 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. She recommends aiming to consume at least ⅓ of a medium-sized avocado daily on salad, toast or in a smoothie.
2. Green Tea
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 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.
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4. 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 sautéing them 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 and inflammation, 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. She also mentions if these foods are hard to fit into your diet, taking a probiotic supplement is a suitable alternative.
7. 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.
Often used as eye patches during spa treatments to reduce swelling, this vegetable can also be used to quell the swelling in your stomach. According to Cynthia Sass, RD, “cucumbers have been known to inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes.” So whether you just slice it up or make some cucumber water, make sure to add this veggie to your list.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain both high levels of potassium and vitamin A, which both help to reduce bloating. Though be careful with this superfood — sometimes it can affect more sensitive stomachs in the opposite way.
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According to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital, celery and celery root can help with bloating due to dehydration, due to it being made of mostly water. Celery is also a natural diuretic, removing excess water and sodium from your body.
Ginger has the ability to cut down on fermentation, constipation, and other causes of bloating, according to Johns Hopkins medicine. You can either add this ingredient to another food, or make some ginger tea and drink it.
Based on several sources, kombucha contains probiotics that help balance your gut and reduces any bloating caused by bacteria. But be careful, as kombucha is a carbonated drink and may instead make you more bloated due to the carbonation. Try to drink this in moderation.
Banana’s potassium content make them perfect for regulating sodium levels, preventing water retention, and even helping reduce bloating. A 2011 study even found this to be true, testing to see whether bananas consumed daily helped or harmed participants.
Malena Perdomo, RD recommends eating this tropical fruit whenever you’re feeling bloated. “The reason papaya is good for gut health is mainly due to the enzyme papain that helps with digestion, [particularly] digestion of proteins,” says Perdomo. Papaya works so well that it is often sold as a supplement to prevent bloating and constipation.
Cynthia Sass also endorses asparagus, which is an anti-bloating superfood containing prebiotics that support the growth of “good” bacteria. It also causes you to pee more often, allowing your body to flush out any excess water.
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Oats are full of both fiber and beta glucans, making them great for digestion and bloating. Beta-glucan specifically have anti-inflammatory properties, making it the perfect solution to a bloated stomach.
There are several advantages to eating pineapple says WebMD. While the enzymes help break down protein, reducing constipation and bloating, pineapples also contain bromelain. Bromelain has antibacterial properties and can help cut down on inflammation, making this a delicious choice to help out your stomach.
Among quinoa’s many health benefits, it contains a high amount of dietary fiber. Cleveland Clinic recommends this grain in order to regulate your digestive system while also reducing bloating and constipation. Some other health benefits include lowering your risk of colon cancer, and helping control your hunger.
Beaufort Memorial Hospital also approves of apples for a great source of potassium and fiber which helps with constipation. Apples also contain a special type of fiber called pectin, helping food move through the digestive tract to prevent bloating.
Last on our list but certainly not the least, rhubarb contains a great amount of fiber to move along that stubborn digestive tract. Rhubarb also contains sennoside, stimulating the bowels and battling constipation so your gut remains happy.
One of the biggest things to keep yourself healthy and bloat-free is to watch what you eat. By adding just a few of these foods into your diet and cutting out some others, you will notice less inflammation and bloating, and feel better throughout the day. Our stomachs are extremely important, and we need to treat them the right way in order to benefit in the long run.