We all know that junk foods can make us look and feel lousy. The body wasn’t designed to absorb and digest processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soda, bad fats and pretty much anything you would get from a box, a can or a drive-thru.
Aside from the long-term health issues these “foods” cause, they give us belly fat and make us gassy. They make the gut feel swollen, or bloated.
Most people think bloating is the result of overeating, and that is certainly a common cause. It can also be caused by eating too quickly. But bloating is often caused by what we eat – including healthy foods.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a condition that can cause bloating. SIBO occurs when an abnormally high amount of bacteria grow in the small intestine, making it more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. This can lead to conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and gastritis.
Many patients are surprised to learn that some healthy, nutritious foods have properties that can cause bloat.
Beans and lentils are types of legumes that are a great source of protein, fiber, good carbs, and several vitamins and minerals. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are also rich in fiber, as well as vitamin C and iron.
All of these foods also happen to contain FODMAPs. Without getting too technical, FODMAPs are non-digestible carbohydrates that can include sugars, sugar alcohols, and non-digestible fibers. These substances can cause excessive gas production and bloating in some people.
Onions, especially the outer layer of onions, are rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Onions are also a primary source of fructans, which can cause bloating, especially when onions are eaten raw.
Grains like wheat, rye and barley are high in fiber, but they also contain gluten. Gluten not only causes serious issues for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, but it can make you feel bloated.
If you feel bloated after eating beans, try pinto or black beans, and soak them before you eat them.
If you feel bloated after eating lentils, try lightly colored lentils, which tend to cause less bloating than darker lentils.
If you feel bloated after eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, try spinach, cucumbers, or zucchini.
If you feel bloated after eating wheat, rye and barley, try other grains like oats, brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.
These are recommendations that you can begin trying today. Of course, a clinical nutrition evaluation would dig much deeper into the foods you eat, how you prepare them and when you eat them.
At Natural Healthcare Center, we have a very specific protocol for people dealing with SIBO and bloating. Honestly, I’ve never seen a patient not respond well to it. The patient notices a flattening of the stomach and feels less gassy. It’s an amazing program.
If you feel bloated, the first step is to cut out processed, unnatural foods and beverages. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. Slow down and enjoy your meal. If you eat any of the foods mentioned above and find yourself feeling bloated, try the alternatives I’ve suggested, and come see us for a clinical nutritional evaluation at Natural Healthcare Center.