Most people occasionally experience bloating, or the build-up of gas in the intestinal tract. While uncomfortable, it is rarely dangerous.
Usually bloating can be attributed to three things:
- Eating rich and fatty foods
- Eating too fast
This is the most common cause of bloating and can be controlled by reducing the meal portion size. One technique many people use to trick their mind into thinking they are eating more than they are is to use a 9-inch instead of a 12-inch plate. The plate looks full, so your brain thinks it is getting the same amount of food.
Eating rich and fatty foods
Fats take longer to digest than either carbohydrates or protein, so consequently the food stays in the digestive system longer, giving it more time to ferment and cause gas. By reducing the amount of rich and fatty food consumed through portion control and proper diet, most bloating can be reduced or even eliminated.
Eating too fast
There are a couple of reasons why eating too fast can cause bloating. First, many people swallow a lot of air when then they eat fast; about half of the gas in the digestive system is swallowed air. The rest is produced as a by-product of bacteria in the gut. Some tips to reducing swallowed air include:
- Drinking through a straw
- Not chewing gum
- Drinking carbonated beverages slowly
- Not sucking on hard candy
If not prevented, air enters the digestive system and can cause that excessively full feeling called bloating. Second by eating fast, it is easy to overeat – another reason for bloating. Because it can take up to 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach the brain and tell the body to stop eating, if eating fast, you can consume much more food that you should before getting the signal to stop.
Other foods to avoid
Some foods are more difficult to digest than others and can cause gassiness and bloating:
- Artificial sweeteners – especially Sorbitol and sugar alcohols. Limit the amount you eat.
- Dairy products if lactose intolerant.
- Certain fruits or vegetables. Brussels sprouts, cabbage cauliflower, prunes and apricots are known foods that can cause gassiness and bloating.
- Beans, lentils or any foods containing the indigestible sugar oligosaccharides.
- Whole grains. Even though whole grains are high in fiber and good for a digestive system, if the amount of fiber is increased too quickly it can cause gas and bloating. Because fiber absorbs water, the amount of liquids consumed should be raised accordingly.
By watching portions, eating slower and watching which foods you eat, most gassiness and bloating can be controlled or even eliminated. However if bloating happens more often than occasionally, see your doctor.