We carry up to 2 kilograms of microbes in our gut, and there are at least 1,000 species of bacteria consisting of over 3 million genes. Two thirds of the gut microbiome, or the population of microbes in the intestine, is unique to each individual. This means that the food that we put into our bodies gets processed a bit differently by each of us. It also means that our reaction to these foods that we eat to sustain us can vary.
One side effect of each person’s individual diet is the dreaded belly bloat. This is the feeling of being puffy, gassy, and generally uncomfortable. One thing to remember, however, is that foods that cause bloating are not necessarily bad for you. Namely, this includes high fiber foods and antioxidant packed veggies. Here are some common foods that bloat the belly, and a detailed look at what exactly is happening inside your body:
- Dairy: After consuming a glass of milk or too much butter, many people express discomfort and bloat. The reason? It could be lactose intolerance, or the inability to digest milk sugar or lactose. Most common in Native Americans, African Americas, Asians and Latinos, drinking lactose-free products can help alleviate these symptoms.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Think Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale are high in raffinose, a chemical that causes gas and bloating. But they're also high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so they're a good part of a healthy diet. Your digestive system will adjust over time so start with smaller portions and work up. Steaming your cruciferous veggies might also help reduce some of the bloating.
- Grains: Grains like wheat and rye have non-digestible fructan. If you have a gluten intolerance, eating these grains causes an immune reaction which destroys the lining of the small intestine and leads to gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
- Beans: Filled with starch which makes you gassy and bloated. Try soaking the dried beans overnight. Hydrating them will break down some of the starch.
- Soda: Another problem with soda is that is causes bloating. Any carbonated beverage such as soda or beer can bring on this feeling because you're swallowing air. Chewing gum, hard candy or drinking to fast may have a similar effect.
- Greasy Foods: You know the feeling, you've just eaten a heavy meal and it feels like the food is right at the pit of your stomach. Why? Because fats tend to slow down the rate of how quickly the stomach digests and empties the food into the small intestine.
- Foods sweetened with alcohol sugars: Think sugar-free gum and candy and many low-carb foods. Alcohol sugars are common with most of them being used being one of three: sorbitol, xylitol or mannitol. It can cause bloating because these sugars are not easily digestible by the body.