Bloating is the sensation of abdominal tightness and fullness with abdominal discomfort due to the presence of intestinal gas. According to Ms Minal Shah, Senior Nutritionist, Fortis Hospital Mulund, there can be multiple causes of bloating due to certain vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, pulses like beans, rajmah and chole, products with lactose (in case of intolerance), foods containing sugar alcohols (artificial sweeteners in sugar-free foods). Bloating can also be due to aerophagia (excessive and repetitive air swallowing) caused due to eating too quickly or drinking by straw. Constipation can also lead to bloating due to the fermentation of the food by the gut bacteria.
Certain foods can be included to avoid bloating
- Curd is probiotic i.e. has beneficial bacteria that play an important role in improving gut health. Curd is proven by research to improve stool frequency and consistency for more regularity and reduce bloating.
- Banana is a rich source of fibre that helps avoid constipation and treat diarrhoea. It also has a good amount of potassium that maintains the fluid balance and avoids water retention and bloating.
- Papaya is an excellent source of fibre and a naturally occurring laxative. Papaya also has papain an enzyme that breaks down amino acids and helps in digestion. Papaya has been proven to improve constipation and bloating.
- Ginger has Gingerol, a natural component of ginger root, that benefits gastrointestinal motility. It leads to efficient digestion, cuts down on the fermentation and hence reduces the cause of bloating and intestinal gasses. Fresh ginger can be included in tea or soups or dried ginger powder (sunth) can also be added. The quantity of ginger consumed should be normal to moderate amounts but should not be taken in high amounts as it has health concerns associated with it.
- Fennel seeds have anethole and fibre and are known to help relax the stomach muscles and reduce gas formation and cramps. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It soothes muscles in the stomach and intestines and helps to relieve gassiness that’s from constipation or acid reflux. Fennel seeds are consumed as a mouth freshener post-meal, one can make tea or fennel boiled water, or it can be added to vegetables as flavouring or mixed in chapati.
- Ajwain has thymol, a phenol that gives the fruit its thyme-like smell. Thymol enhances the digestive enzyme secretion and to treat digestive problems. Essential oil in ajwain has anti-flatulence properties which means they can prevent the formation of excess gas in the digestive system. Additionally, it can help balance stomach acid levels by reducing acidity. Ajwain can be consumed roasted or raw and can be made in the form of tea or added to preparations like chapati or paratha.
- Fibre, improving fibre in the diet can improve gut health and soften stools to avoid constipation and bloating. The type of fibre is important. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms gel. Insoluble fibre adds roughage and adds bulk that helps avoid constipation. It is important to ensure an adequate amount of water with the fibre for it to work.
Other tips and tricks to avoid bloating include:
- Drinking more water
- Consuming small meals to allow the smooth digestion of the food consumed.
- Chewing food well before swallowing.
- Eat an early dinner to allow food to be digested properly before bedtime.