Bloating. It's one of those uncomfortable inevitabilities of life that seems to arise at the most inconvenient of moments. Plus, it can be hella uncomfortable. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your symptoms and prevent future bloats, including the obvious culprit (your diet) as well as some more unexpected suspects like the way you chew.
1. FOODS TO AVOID
"All types of cabbage, vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, leeks, kohlrabi and wholemeal products can cause bloating," states Karsten.
But as well as what you're eating, it's also when you're eating them; "Eating vegetables in the evening have a negative effect on the stomach and intestines." According to the experts at Lanserhof, people with sensitive stomachs should avoid raw vegetables and fruit in the evening, because the stomach and intestines do not work at all or only very little at this time - especially when we're sleeping. This means that raw food cannot be processed and remains undigested until the next morning, producing excess gas as it sits stagnant in our stomachs and contributing to bloating. "In the evening it’s best to avoid salads with raw vegetables—instead, choose steamed vegetables," suggests Karsten.
2. FOODS TO EAT
According to Karsten, there are certain foods that are able to actually reduce bloating as well as helping to avoid it. "Fennel seeds, saffron and caraway are ingredients that can alleviate bloating," he says.
Luckily, these spices and seeds are easily added into a whole host of existing dishes and common recipes, so couldn't be easier to incorporate into your daily diet.
3. CHECK FOR UNDERLYING CAUSES
While a bit of bloating is natural, there can be potentially more serious and often treatable - underlying causes. "Common food intolerances such as lactose, fructose and histamine can cause bloating but a simple stool test for microbiome and Candida may also help to determine whether these are the causes."
4. DON'T DRINK 30 MINUTES BEFORE OR AFTER EATING
We all know that drinking water is absolutely essential to overall health, and helps with everything from cognitive function to clearer skin. "A healthy person should drink about 2 litres a day in the form of teas, ginger water or base broth. The amount should be distributed throughout the day and never drunk ice-cold or sweetened with sugar," says Karsten.
However, a very common error we're making is drinking liquids with our food. "It is also important not to drink liquids 30-45 minutes before and after each meal as the liquid can compromise the digestive process," says Karsten. When we eat, the stomach produces acid to help break down the food, but when we drink liquids, the acid becomes diluted, confusing the body and stimulating the stomach to produce more acid. This can lead to digestive discomfort, acid reflux and yes, bloating.
5. CHEW, CHEW, AND CHEW SOME MORE
In our super-sonic society where speed is the name of the game and immediacy is always preferable, it's hardly surprising that we practically inhale our food, meaning we gulp down excess air at the same time.
As well as meaning we swallow lots of air, leading to bloated stomachs, we're also forgoing an important component to healthy digestion. "The first stage of digestion takes place in the mouth (carbohydrates are broken down in the first phase and can be supplied to the body as energy). It also relieves the stomach and means it doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food you’ve eaten," says Karsten. "For this reason, hasty eating can be damaging and lead to uncomfortable bloating."