Anyone who has ever experienced an inexplicable bout of bloating after eating something innocuous like a salad will attest to how uncomfortable and even frustrating it can feel.
Truthfully, bloating occurs even when you're making healthy choices at mealtimes. So it's important to know that you shouldn't avoid super-healthy foods just because they make you bloated.
If you're feeling out of control don't despair. Here's the good news: knowledge is power and once you're aware of the ingredients wreaking havoc with your gut health you can consume this food strategically. What's more?
We asked nutritionist Zoe Dent (@findyourglow_nutrition) to debunk some of the most common myths about bloating - answering the most burning questions about improving our gut health.
Why do we feel bloated even when we're following a healthy diet?
"Just as we have unique personalities, there is not one diet that fits all, for many reasons. For some, eating raw vegetables is hard on their digestion, and would do better consuming lightly warmed vegetables. For others, it might be the gluten or dairy in the sauce that they are reacting adversely to, and for others, it might be the protein source that is causing the bloating due to insufficient digestive enzymes."
What are the top five most common foods that cause bloating?
"FODMAPS- so cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts and broccoli, legumes such as baked beans and lentils and certain fruit such as prunes and watermelon. Then dairy, gluten and soy products are also common offenders."
The FODMAP eating plan is very buzz-worthy right now, who can benefit from it?
"The FODMAP diet can be incredibly helpful in providing short-term relief for people suffering ongoing or regular bloating as it effectively removes the foods that are the most likely to be the culprits-that is carbohydrates that are most likely to produce gas, bloating and wind.
"However, it is imperative to emphasize that it is a restrictive diet that should be done under the supervision of a qualified health professional for a short-term period only, as for general gut health the best thing is to be eating a wide variety of most foods to increase the type and variety of our gut bugs."
Artificial sugars in sugar-free gum are a sneaky source of bloat, are there any other foods or additives that we might be consuming without realising they are wreaking havoc with our digestive system?
"Many kinds of nut milk contain carrageenan, a thickening agent that has been found to cause all sorts of gastrointestinal issues.
"Another source is ‘healthy’ fermented foods such as cultured vegetables or kombucha, or a general multi-strain probiotic, which can cause bloating for either positive or negative reasons depending on the state of your gut microbiome. On the positive note, they can initially cause short-term bloating due to the microbiome rebalancing. However for those with a particular type of microbiome imbalance called SIBO- small intestine bacterial overgrowth- these foods can actually make the imbalance worse, so again it is important to not just self-prescribe and understand your own body and what works for your- or find a qualified health practitioner who can help you achieve this."
“Lentil belly” is a common source of discomfort, is there anything we can eat or drink to ease this feeling? Especially, if we don’t want to give up lentils…
"If you pre-soak legumes such as lentils you neutrialise anti-nutrients which can cause bloating, and this step also enhances the digestibility of legumes which can reduce the likelihood of bloating."
Lastly, if you are feeling bloated what should you keep in mind to avoid feeling too stressed about it?
"Stress and eating on the run is actually one of the most common simple causes of bloating that is often overlooked. When you eat on the run you do not give your body the pre-digestive signals that enable it to make digestive enzymes. Not chewing your food enough by grabbing and running also impacts digestion, which can heighten indigestion. Drinking too much fluid can also impact digestion by diluting your digestive enzymes so it is better."
For more information from nutritionist Zoe Dent visit: findyourglow.com.au