We are all familiar with the feeling that the stomach is full and painful to the point. This phenomenon is particularly common and characterizes between 10% -30% of the population and is not necessarily related to obesity, although the food we eat can of course significantly affect the feeling of bloating and other digestive problems. In most cases the phenomenon is caused as a result of consumption of certain foods and beverages leading to the formation of gases and congestion in the intestinal cavity.
We turned to Avinoam Aviv, a certified clinical dietitian at the Center for the Treatment of Obesity, Dr. Raz, who gave us some recommendations for foods that you should, and less should, include in the menu in order to avoid as much as possible the feeling of stomach discomfort.
1. Cruciferous vegetables
Vegetables are a recommended food group at every meal, but there are several types of vegetables that may contribute to your feeling of bloating. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish and more, contain an ingredient that is not broken down by our digestive system but only in contact with the bacteria in the colon. This encounter can create gas in the digestive tract and as a result cause an unpleasant feeling of bloating. Try eating other vegetables or consume moderately vegetables from this group and examine their effect on your body.
Lactose is a type of sugar that is found naturally in various dairy products – dairy drinks, soft cheeses, types of cream and the like. Quite a few people suffer from sensitivity to this type of sugar, and it sometimes develops over the years. The digestive system of people with lactose intolerance breaks it down less effectively so they may suffer from problems like bloating, gas and diarrhea. If there is a suspicion that this is the cause of the swelling, it is recommended to try and avoid dairy products for several days and examine the effect. There are also dairy products that contain almost no lactose such as hard cheeses, butter and the like. Aquarium-free or lactose-free products can also be found on supermarket shelves. You can do a lactose intolerance test, and even take a lactase enzyme supplement that helps avoid the various side effects.
3. Artificial sweeteners
The use of artificial sweeteners is gaining momentum as a substitute for sugar consumption. We can find them ranging from diet drinks, through cookies and cakes and even candies and chewing gum. Some can create intestinal fermentation and a feeling of bloating. If you feel bloated, try to reduce your intake of these sweeteners, and pay attention to whether there are ingredients in the list of products that you consume alcoholic sugars with a “Wall” suffix, such as sorbitol, maltitol and the like.
Is the stew pot sitting on your stomach? Legumes may be the cause. Legumes are rich in healthy nutrients and dietary fiber. But some of them create gas in the digestive tract and as a result also a feeling of discomfort in the stomach. What can help? Adherence to soaking and changing the water will reduce the causes of swelling, and the germination of legumes can also help you eat them and stay light and relaxed.
Many accusations have been leveled at gluten, but not always rightly so. Gluten is a protein compound derived from wheat, and most of us are able to digest them without a problem. In the past it was thought that there were people who suffer from celiac disease (gluten allergy), and people who can digest it without a problem. Today, it is known that some people are sensitive to gluten. That is, they are not allergic but they may suffer from a feeling of discomfort and bloating in the digestive tract after consuming foods that contain gluten. If you also feel bloated after eating wheat products – it is recommended that you get tested for celiac disease. If the result is negative, it may only be gluten sensitivity, so reducing consumption of wheat products or preferring sourdough breads can alleviate the symptoms.
6. Probiotic yogurts
Many yogurts contain a large amount of probiotic bacteria – bacteria that are good for our digestive system. Many studies have found that these bacteria help in the absorption of calcium and certain vitamins and yogurts that contain probiotic bacteria can help break down food and keep the gut bacterial population healthy. Thus in fact consumption of these yogurts can contribute to a reduction in the feeling of abdominal bloating.
7. Fennel seeds
In addition to being anti-inflammatory, fennel seeds have something to offer in the abdomen as well. A published study found that consuming fennel seeds can help with a feeling of irritation and hypersensitivity in the gut. Calmer intestines can facilitate the evacuation of gases and thus facilitate an irritable stomach. In addition, fennel seeds are also rich in fiber, which can contribute to easier emptying, as well as to a healthy bacterial environment in the digestive tract. It is recommended to combine ground fennel seeds, and they can be consumed in a hot drink, in various foods or in a natural supplement – for those who are less attached to taste.
Ginger – or in its official name ‘ginger root’ and cousin of turmeric, is known for its properties in soothing digestive distress. Several studies have shown that ginger can accelerate gastric emptying, prevent bloating and a feeling of fullness, and relieve nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort. The ginger root may not seem particularly irritating, but it does contain an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer component called “gingerroll”, which has been linked to the relief of many ailments from muscle and menstrual pain to neurological function. Even if you ate too much and you feel ‘exploded’, have a cup of tea with ginger at the end of the meal and you will feel the difference.
Does the way to relieve the feeling of bloating go through the legs? It is very possible that it is. Studies have found that exercise like cycling can help with the rate of gas clearance from the digestive tract, thus relieving the feeling of bloating. Next time you feel bloated, try jumping into the gym or even going out jogging in the neighborhood.
The fluid that makes up over half of our body weight can help us even in cases of bothersome bloating. Water intake is preferable to carbonated beverages by reducing the entry of gases into the digestive tract, which create the same feeling of bloating. Also, lack of water will lead to large absorption of fluids back from the colon to the body, which can lead to constipation. Water can relieve constipation and bloating.
Bonus fact: Drinking directly from the glass will be preferable to drinking a key in these situations.
* If you still feel swelling that adversely affects your quality of life even after all of these, consult a certified clinical dietitian and your gastroenterologist to rule out additional causes and improve symptoms.