Eat to beat the bloat
Get into your LBD in time for Christmas
Stomach bloating affects up to 50 per cent of us at any one time, and is especially unwelcome at this time of year when you’re hoping to wow them at Christmas parties in your little black dress.
The most common cause is a build up of gas in the intestines and before trying to control this with diet, it’s important that food allergies, lactose intolerance and coeliac disease are ruled out via your GP.
If diet is the main cause of your tender tummy, try these suggestions to relieve the pain and discomfort of bloating…
What to avoid eating
Foods high in ‘short chain carbohydrates’ are poorly absorbed by our intestines. Instead, bacteria in the intestines break them down and gases (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane) are produced as a by-product. Short chain carbs include:
Fructans – Found in highest amounts in wheat, onions and artichokes, while asparagus, leeks, garlic, chicory are also sources.
Galactans – Found in beans such as kidney beans, broad beans, chickpeas and lentils, and brassica vegetables.
Lactose – Lactose is milk sugar, found in dairy products, and often in confectionery, beer, packet soups and sauces.
Fructose (fruit sugar) – Fructose-rich foods include honey, dried fruits, apples, pears, sweet cherries, peaches, agave syrup and watermelon. Fructose is also often added to commercial foods and drinks as ‘high fructose corn syrup’.
Polyols or sugar alcohols – ‘Artificial sweeteners’ in commercial foods and drinks. These include sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol, all common ingredients of many sugar-free ‘diet’ products such as gums and low-calorie foods. Polyols are also in a few natural foods such as peaches, apricots, plums and berries in small quantities.
There is some evidence that yeasts living in the gut thrive in the presence of refined sugars, fermented products such as alcohol and food containing yeast, notably bread. Yeasts release gas, which in turn causes bloating.
If you suffer from bloating:
– Cut back all short-chain carbs until you find your own tolerance level – try cutting each group out for two weeks and see if symptoms improve.
– Eat lean proteins such as fish, poultry and eggs instead of pulses.
– Replace lost fibre and vitamins by increasing the amount of fruit and veg in your diet.
– Choose rice cakes, rye crispbreads and rice instead of wheat.
– Try sipping peppermint tea and adding ginger to your meals – both are known to help eliminate excess gas and ease stomach discomfort. Charcoal tablets also help.
– Some studies suggest both the enzyme bromelain in pineapple and papain in papaya can assist digestion and decrease bloating.
– Add probiotics to increase ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut and reduce the ‘bad’ bacteria that encourage gas production. Low-fat natural ‘bio’ yoghurt is ideal, or choose supplements of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.