Bloating is that uncomfortable feeling that occurs when gas builds up and gets trapped in the digestive tract. This can lead to a swollen feeling that can be accompanied by abdominal pain and/or lowered self-esteem and body confidence.
Here are 5 easy ways to beat the bloat and feel better today!
1. Increasing your fibre intake can help improve your gut health and reduce bloating. This helps to slow down the processing of meals in the digestive tract and keeps you fuller for longer. Try incorporating different types of fibre including soluble fibre foods such as bananas, legumes, chia seeds and oats. It’s vital you pair these with insoluble fibre foods like multigrain bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, nuts and seeds. Ensure that you increase your fibre intake gradually, otherwise it may make things worse instead of better. Daily fibre intake should be 25g for women and 30g for men per day.
2. Reduce your sodium (salt) intake, since excess sodium from high salt foods can cause water retention, discomfort and inevitably bloating. For Australian adults, it is recommended to consume less than 2000mg of sodium per day (equivalent to 5000mg or 5g of salt, which is ~1 tsp).
Incorporate foods naturally low in sodium such as fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, milk and yogurt, legumes and lean meats. Try avoiding the use of sauces and seasonings in cooking and adding salt at the table. Remember to use the nutrition information panel on the back of food packages and products to check the sodium content of foods.
3. Drink an adequate amount of water every day as this helps to flush out excess sodium, other minerals and toxins from the body. Try to aim for at least 2L of water a day and replace sugary drinks with water, as it is an easy way to meet your body’s fluid requirements.
4. Bloating can be caused by overeating past our level of fullness, so try eating slowly to help prevent bloating after meals and snacks. Taking time to eat your food helps to ensure that food is chewed adequately and proper digestion is achieved. Try mindful eating practices such as avoiding eating on the go, while driving, watching the TV or looking at your phone.
5. If you are experiencing any other prolonged symptoms with bloating such as diarrhea, constipation and/or abdominal pain, these could be signs of a food intolerance or allergy and it is important to consult with a dietitian. A dietitian can help identify what is causing these problems and help you develop a personalised plan to help overcome them.
Try out these 5 easy ways to relieve bloating! If symptoms worsen or are prolonged, reach out to a dietitian for more personalized advice.
This blog was co-written by Amy Gibson, registered dietitian and Jessica Wolff, a Nutrition and Dietetics student at the University of Queensland.