Supplying your gut with the right balance of these nutrients can aid the smooth-running of the digestion process. And as a result, you may find you’re feeling the need to loosen your waistband less often.
Gut-friendly eating habits
As more and more science around gut health emerges, we’re increasingly bombarded with conflicting opinions on how diet impacts digestion. While some blame gluten, others call out lactose as the culprit. But there are a few eating habits that most dietitians agree on. Before we talk about specific foods that can help with how to reduce bloating, here are a few golden rules.
- Drink plenty of water. Fluids encourage the passage of waste through your digestive system. Also, without water, fibre can’t do its job.
- Increase your fibre intake. A diet rich in fibre, from a variety of sources can support the digestion process. Although too much fibre can also cause bloating, so some moderation is wise.
- Cut down on fat. Fatty foods are harder to digest. Cutting back eases the pressure on your gut by reducing its workload.
- Add friendly bacteria to your diet. Whether you choose supplement form or look for natural food sources, increasing levels of friendly bacteria in your gut offers many digestive health benefits.
- Limit or avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol and drinks containing caffeine. These drinks can lead to bloating, increase acid in the stomach and can irritate a sensitive digestive system. Coffee can also stimulate the digestive tract causing muscle spasms. Drinking less of these fluids can make digestion problems less likely.
Foods to beat the bloatAround 100 trillion bacteria live in your gut. Maintaining the diversity of this bacteria is important to gut health. For example, to ease bloating.
Nothing is more influential to the balance of your gut microbiome than what you eat and drink.
The foods you eat are not just part of the cause of your digestive discomfort. They may also hold the answer to how to reduce bloating.
While some foods can trigger your digestive discomfort, others could help it. Here we focus on four food groups that can help. But a note of caution, rather than focussing on eating any one category, aim to get diverse nutrients from all of these gut-friendly food groups.
Whole grainsSources include: wheats (e.g. spelt and durums), rice, barley, maize, rye, millets, oats, buckwheat, quinoa
Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and support gut mobility which could have a positive effect one bloating. Whole grains are a rich source of fibre, making whole grain breakfast cereals and whole wheat pasta good gut-friendly alternatives.
Fermented foodsSources include: sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kefir, miso, kombucha Fermented foods are rich in friendly bacteria. By adding these foods to your diet, you can increase the levels of good bacteria and enzymes in the digestive system. This benefits the health of your gut, which optimises the digestion process. But note, the friendly bacteria has to be live when you consume it so choose unpasteurised alternatives.3,4
Allium vegetablesSources include: garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, chives Allium vegetables contain prebiotics. These are compounds that feed the microorganisms in fermented foods and help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Incorporating garlic and onions into your meals is a good way to integrate alliums into your everyday cooking routine.5
Beans and pulsesSources include: kidney beans, black beans lentils, chick peas, haricot beans, pinto beans Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. The NHS advises a daily intake of around 30g.6 Beans are rich in fibre and so incorporating them into your diet can help to hit this target.
Aim for moderation and diversity
Overloading your diet with any of these foods is unlikely to help. It could in fact make your bloating worse. For example, increasing fibre and not increasing water can worsen constipation. This is because water is needed to help fibre to pass through the digestive tract. Another example is, for people with digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, eating large quantities of allium vegetables can trigger gas, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
Summary: How to reduce bloating
There isn’t a single superfood that can miraculously cure bloating, however, much you eat. In fact, eating too much of any one food type can in some cases make bloating and other digestion problems worse. More important than eating any single food is consuming as wide a range of gut-healthy foods as possible.
Last updated: 18 June 2020