Bloating is a discomforting condition that affects countless individuals worldwide. Whether it’s an occasional inconvenience or a persistent issue, bloating can significantly impact our daily lives and overall well-being. From the tightness in our abdomen to the feeling of fullness and even the visible swelling, bloating can be both physically and emotionally distressing. While various factors contribute to bloating, including lifestyle choices, one aspect that warrants close attention is our diet. Eating food in wrong combinations, eating too much, not chewing well, not cooking foods the right way, compromised digestion, sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, drinking too less water, overdosing on alcohol or having foods loaded with salt and preservatives can all make us look and feel puffy.
What Can Cause Excessive Bloating? | Reasons For Bloating
1. Too Much Fibre:
While fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system, consuming excessive amounts of it can cause bloating, especially for individuals who are not used to a high-fibre diet. Fibre-rich foods like beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, and whole grains can be difficult to digest and ferment in the gut, leading to gas and bloating. If you’re increasing your fibre intake, it’s important to do so gradually and drink plenty of water to help with digestion.
Alcohol is a known culprit for causing bloating and discomfort in many individuals. It can contribute to bloating in several ways. Firstly, alcohol can irritate the digestive system and cause inflammation, leading to bloating. Secondly, alcohol can promote water retention, causing your body to retain fluids and feel bloated. Lastly, alcoholic beverages often contain carbonation, which can further contribute to bloating and gas.
3. Overdoing Refined Salt:
Consuming excessive amounts of refined salt can also contribute to bloating. Sodium, the main component of salt, can cause water retention in the body, leading to bloating and puffiness. Processed and packaged foods, such as snacks, canned soups, and fast food, are often high in refined salt. By reducing your intake of processed foods and opting for fresh, whole foods, you can lower your sodium intake and potentially reduce bloating.
Slow down your pace of eating. When we eat our food too quickly, we fail to use our teeth to break down food into smaller particles and send partially digested and larger chunks of food into our stomachs. This leads to our stomach producing more acid and enzymes to break down food than our mouth should have. This paves the way for acidity and indigestion. Furthermore, these undigested pieces of food further travel down to our small intestine. These pieces of food irritate the mucosal linings of the intestine causing gut inflammation, bloating, more acidity and upsetting the gut microbiome.
Here Are Some Spices That Can Relieve Bloating Naturally:
1. Carminative spices:
Spices like cumin (jeera), black pepper (kali mirch), bishop’s weed (ajwain), fennel seeds (saunf), thyme and parsley have carminative properties, meaning they prevent flatulence by supporting the digestion of foods which are otherwise tough to digest and might form gasses in individuals who have weak gut health. In traditional ways of Indian cooking, these spices are anyway a part of the recipe, but even the simple Indian practice of chewing fennel seeds or saunf after meals can help prevent or ease bloating. Plus, it’s a mouth freshener!
Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory and digestive properties that can help reduce bloating. It helps stimulate the digestive system, promotes gastric emptying, and reduces inflammation in the gut. Ayurveda considers ginger as a ‘digestive fire’ booster that aids in digestion and reduces bloating.
Hing, a magical spice found in every Indian kitchen, holds a revered place in Ayurveda and has been cherished for generations. This remarkable ingredient, known as asafoetida, possesses impressive anti-bloating properties. It comes as no surprise that hing is widely embraced in traditional Indian cooking, especially in the form of tadkas (tempering) added to dals and pulses, which can otherwise be challenging to digest for individuals with weak digestive systems. Throughout history, hing golis, post-digestive tablets containing asafoetida, have been trusted allies in providing relief from bloating. We also recommend mixing a pinch of hing in lukewarm water and consuming it 30-40 minutes after meals to alleviate bloating in susceptible individuals.
Anti-Bloat Tea Recipe By Integrative Lifestyle Expert Luke Coutinho
Nature has endowed us with certain herbs and spices that work as natural diuretics. Coriander seed is one of them. Even a simple brew of coriander seed can help flush out excess and trapped water from your system making you feel better.
Here’s one recipe that works well for our patients –
- 1 litre of water in the Jar / Glass
- 2 tbsp Jeera
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp Fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Ajwain
– Soak overnight, boil the water in the morning and reduce it to half. Make it like an infusion. Strain it and add it to another bottle.
– Sip throughout the day.
It’s important to acknowledge that digestive health can vary from person to person. While gluten (wheat) may lead to significant bloating for some individuals, it may not have the same effect on others. Similarly, some individuals may tolerate chana and legumes well, while even a small serving may cause bloating for others. It becomes crucial to identify your triggers when it comes to bloating and make the appropriate adjustments to your diet, cooking methods, and overall lifestyle accordingly.
The cooking method used can also play a significant role in whether a person experiences bloating or not. Therefore, cooking food in a manner that aligns with natural principles is critical. For instance, some individuals complain of bloating after consuming rajma and chana, but it’s not necessarily indicative of the food is bad. It’s possible that the cooking process may have been flawed. Our traditional wisdom emphasizes the importance of soaking dals and pulses, and there is much to be gained from following this practice. Not only does soaking make these legumes easier to digest, but it also helps to reduce the leaching of lectins and anti-nutrients to some extent.
Another very important aspect is chewing. Whatever you choose to eat, any food item can be a trigger for bloating if it is not chewed well. So, the first step towards enhancing digestion and addressing bloating issues has to be mindful chewing.
About Author: Luke Coutinho practices in the fields of Holistic Nutrition, Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.