Many people complain of feeling uncomfortably full and heavy in their stomach even when they have not eaten for a few hours. The stomach may also appear bigger than usual. This is called bloating and it may happen because the GI (gastrointestinal) tract is filled with air. Acidity, constipation, swallowing air, or menstruation can cause bloating in some cases. Certain medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease, or an infection can be behind this condition. A lot of times, there is no apparent reason for it. Bloating is also often accompanied by excessive flatulence and frequent burping.
It may also trouble you when you are not eating your meals at a proper time and consuming the wrong kinds of food. There are some foods that take a longer time to digest and must be avoided if you have a tendency for bloating.
“Remember that your stomach takes 4 to 6 hours to empty depending on the food intake. The first step to treating this issue is to maintain sufficient gaps between meals as well as reducing the portion size,” suggests Jyotika Diwan, Nutrition & Diet Advisor.
The composition of food also plays a big role in determining how long it takes for the food to leave your stomach.
“Mixed diet, complex carbs and fatty foods spend a longer duration of time in your stomach and as a result you may feel bigger and fuller. Liquids empty more rapidly than solids and large particles empty more slowly than small particles,” says Diwan.
Foods to avoid in case of bloating
Food with high sugar content, certain milk products, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, radishes and artificial sweeteners must be avoided. Reducing the intake of sugar, starches, and wheat flour can help with the problem. Of course, not all fruits and vegetables should be removed from your diet because it’s important to have a balanced diet.
Besides, cooked vegetables are better than raw vegetables if you suffer from bloating.
Foods to get rid of bloating
For the bowel movement to remain smooth, it is important that foods are broken down efficiently. Here are some of the foods that help reduce bloating:
1. Pineapple, Kiwi and Papaya
Foods that aid digestion may reduce gassy emissions by helping to digest proteins, starches, and fats. For example, Pineapple contains digestive enzymes and has long been used in traditional medicine to treat indigestion. Kiwi helps with its laxative qualities and increases gastric mobility. Papaya is also considered extremely effective in breaking down protein.
Foods high in potassium especially raw banana help in lining the stomach, flushing excessive sodium and reducing inflammation. It’s also a prebiotic which helps in increasing the good bacteria in the gut. Similarly, sweet potatoes are also high in potassium.
A variety of fermented foods such as curd, Kanji (black carrot juice), Sauerkraut are examples of probiotics that aid the gut by adding good bacteria.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Food in the stomach breaks down faster by adding Apple Cider Vinegar to it as it strengthens the stomach acid.
5. Ajwain and Jeera tea
Ajwain (carom seeds) and Jeera (cumin seeds) teas help to clean your stomach. They increase your metabolism and help to provide relief from many stomach related issues. Peppermint tea has also been used for generations to help reduce bloating.
6. Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal is a tasteless black powder which absorbs gas, particularly after a high-carbohydrate meal. Its occasional use is not known to be harmful.
Adding the right kind and amount of fiber to your diet can help to increase the stool’s bulk and speed up its movement through the digestive tract. For example, cucumber which is 95% water and berries are good sources of fiber. Also, having Psyllium husk is another excellent way to add bulk to stool. But at the same time one must remember that the human body does not have the necessary enzymes to digest fiber, so having it in the right quantity is the key. Excessive fiber intake can also lead to bloating.
8. Turmeric, ginger and lemon
Last but not the least, one must follow the tried and tested mix of turmeric, ginger and lemon which has proven to be extremely beneficial in reducing bloating.
Apart from having the right food, it is important to have 3-4 litres of water in a day. If you are someone, who doesn’t chew food properly, you must start doing that so that enough salivary enzymes are produced to aid the breakdown of the food in the stomach.