Ever enjoyed a meal and then suddenly felt so full that you want to unbutton your pants? You know what I’m talking about – that bloated, puffy feeling where you think you’ve eaten just one slice of cake too many… Bloating is a common issue that could be triggered by something you’ve eaten or underlying issues like constipation and flatulence. Women may also experience bloating during their menstrual cycle but that’s not something you can really control. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on bloating related to digestion.
Certain foods are known to aid in digestion and can help relieve that bloated feeling. Here’s what you should be putting on your plate.
A bowl of yogurt after a heavy meal is always a good idea. Packed with probiotics and healthy gut bacteria, yogurt calms inflammation in the stomach and improves digestion. The probiotics help break down faster and keep that constipated, gassy feeling at bay. You could try plain yogurt, flavoured yogurt or Greek yogurt as a snack. Topping your bowl of yogurt with fresh berries or nuts is a great way to increase your nutritional levels.
Ginger doesn’t just add flavour to your food, it also improves digestion. This is one of the oldest anti-inflammatory foods known. It contains a digestive enzyme known as Zingibain that aids in the breaking down of tough proteins. Ginger also has a relaxing effect on the intestines and reduces inflammation in the colon. This helps food pass through the system smoothly. Apart from including fresh ginger in your food, you can also end your meals with a light ginger tea to relieve bloating.
When you’re experiencing any kind of stomach-related discomfort, bananas are a great home remedy. This fruit has high potassium levels that reduce the water retention levels in the body. When it comes to bloating, it is particularly effective in reducing bloating caused by eating food with high sodium content. In rare cases, eating ripe bananas may have a contradictory effect and hence, it is best to pick a banana with a slight greenish tint on the skin.
The fleshy papaya fruit has high water content and is rich in fiber. Both these elements are required for healthy digestion and can help reduce bloating. They help the food move smoothly down the digestive canals and aid in smooth excretion as well. In addition, papaya also contains an enzyme known as Papain. This helps the body break down amino acids and soothes digestion.
Dehydration is a common trigger for issues like bloating. when drinking a glass of water isn’t enough, you could look at coconut water. This has higher hydration capabilities as it contains essential electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. This helps regulate the fluid balance. Like bananas, the potassium in coconut water helps reduce sodium levels and thus eases bloating. Ideally, consume fresh coconut water instead of packaged coconut water. You can drink this straight from the coconut or dilute it with more water and ice.
Oats are packed with healthy fibre that adds bulk to the food in your digestive system and helps it function smoothly. In particular, oats contain a specific fibre type known as beta-glucan. This has anti-inflammatory properties that relieve the intestines and colon which in turn reduces bloating. Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to regularize bowel movements. For additional benefits, top the oats with fresh fruits, nuts and berries.
The high water content of cucumbers helps combat dehydration and reduce water retention. It also plays a role in relieving gas that may have built up in the GI tract. In addition, cucumbers contain elements like silicon and sulphur that act as mild diuretics that get the GI tract moving. That said, when we talk of cucumber, we’re talking of fresh cucumbers- avoid pickled cucumbers and gherkins as they may have a higher salt content.
Green tea is a well-known anti-oxidant and contains various anti-inflammatory properties that help deal with fluid retention while keeping you well hydrated. The anti-oxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) contained in green tea neutralize free radicals and minimize inflammation in the body. Green tea also contains caffeine that stimulates the digestive tract and acts as a natural laxative. You can drink a cup of green tea every day in the morning or evening.
Pumpkin is one of the best foods to relieve bloating. It has a high fibre and water content and is low on sugar and starch levels. The water content and fibre aids in digestion and eases bloating and constipation while the low sugar and starch levels let you enjoy a meal comfortably without aggravating the issue. Both fresh and canned pumpkins are equally effective when it comes to dealing with bloating. You can use it in a number of ways – a cooked vegetable dish… desserts… smoothies or even with your morning bowl of oatmeal.
Other foods that can help relieve bloating include pineapples, apples, berries, spinach, grapes, chia seeds and grapefruit. The two basics to look for in food to relieve bloating are high water and fibre content. With that in mind, avoid foods like beans, legumes, sugary alcohols, sodas, boxed or frozen meals and fast food. These types of food tend to have higher sodium levels that can aggravate inflammation and make you feel more bloated. Lastly, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.