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What causes bloating?
“Bloating is usually caused by one of two things: gas or water retention,” Serena Poon, nutritionist, celebrity chef, and founder of Just Add Water and Culinary Alchemy, tells Glamour. ”Gas is caused by the fermentation process of carbohydrates and fibers in your colon. If [it’s] in balance, your gut bacteria can ferment beneficial bacteria without causing gas. However, if imbalanced, your microbiome may produce more gas.”
How to get rid of bloating
“I usually recommend that people drink their body weight in pounds, in ounces of water each day,” says Poon.
Both DeChatelets and Poon also suggest engaging in light movement to help aid digestion. “One study found that light movement like yoga or walking helps relieve symptoms of bloating,” says Poon. “The researchers suggest 30 minutes of walking post-meal.”
If you don’t have time for a walk after each meal, try some stationary yoga and/or stretching.
Eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
The best foods for bloating include kiwi, which helps to speed up stomach emptying and therefore helps prevent and/or treat bloating and constipation, as well as foods that contain probiotics.
“Probiotic foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha promote overall gut health and regularity,” says Poon.
For an easy way to add probiotics to your diet, add a supplement powder to smoothies and juices.
Take probiotic supplements.
Eating probiotic foods is still a good idea, but Poon advises supplementing that with a daily probiotic supplement or powder as well. “Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement can help keep your microbiome filled with good bacteria,” she says.
Cook your veggies and experiment.
Poon notes that while some veggies can help bloating, some cruciferous vegetables, raw foods, and beans can cause gas too.
“These are nourishing foods, so my recommendation is to eat these in moderation and consume them with lots of water,” she says. “You may also want to play with how things are cooked—for example, raw broccoli may cause more gas than cooked broccoli.”
Limit triggering foods.
According to Poon, the worst foods for bloating include anything processed, high-fat, and high-sugar, as well as carbonated beverages—which, yes, unfortunately, does mean seltzer.
“High-fat foods take longer to digest so can end up sitting in your digestive system for a long time, and high-sugar foods can leave sugars behind in the digestive tract, which are a feast for gas-causing bacteria,” she says. “Processed foods are often high in sodium, which may make you retain water, and starchy foods, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and soda and beer can all cause gas and bloating.”
Keep a food journal.
If you’ve changed your diet but found you’re still struggling with bloating, Poon advises keeping track of which foods make you feel ill.
“Every person has their own unique microbiome, meaning that while there are general recommendations, everyone is going to digest foods differently,” she says. “I recommend paying attention to your body and writing in a food journal to determine which foods make you feel energized and which foods make your body feel bloated and gassy.”
Get tested for food allergies and intolerances.
Finally, be sure to get tested for food allergies and intolerances, as they are especially common causes for bloating. “Some individuals have food intolerances, such as lactose or gluten intolerance, resulting in excess bloating when these foods are consumed,” Poon says.