If a flat tummy for the festive season is your goal, core exercises and ab crunches can go a long way – but your diet, and what you eat also plays a big role.
To lend a helping hand, top Training and Nutrition Specialist, David Wiener from leading fitness app Freeletics (https://go.onelink.me/lqpq/freeletics), shares a list of foods you should steer clear of to prevent bloating:
You naturally swallow a lot of air while chewing gum, which can make you feel bloated and leave your stomach distended. Chewing gum can also stimulate your digestive enzymes to expect food which can in turn make you feel hungrier and result in an increase in snacking.
Popcorn can cause bloating simply because of its volume. There isn’t anything specific in this popular snack that causes bloating; it’s simply the volume of popcorn that most people eat which causes your stomach to expand more than usual. A typical snack size bag of popcorn is around 25-30g, which is a lot of popcorn for your stomach to hold.
When you have a fizzy drink, the gas (carbonic acid) fills the stomach with air, creating pressure which pushes the air back up the oesophagus. If you suffer from bloating, the extra gas will make it worse as the air will sit in the stomach. These bubbles eventually burst and get reabsorbed into the blood. Fizzy drinks can also aggravate irritable bowel syndrome, a condition linked to digestive system problems.
Although mostly, water, watermelon contains plenty of fructose, a natural sugar that gives the fruit its sweetness. Many people are unable to absorb fructose, which is why watermelon can lead to bloating.
Many people gravitate towards artificial sweeteners because they have no calories. But calories aren’t everything, and sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol take a long time for the small intestine to digest, which is why substances like these can lead to bloating. To avoid bloating, be aware of these sweeteners in the foods you eat and limit the amount you consume.
Although apples are great additions to a healthy diet given their high fibre, vitamin C and antioxidant rich contents, they are known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people. The combination of fructose and high fibre content means they ferment in your large intestine, which is likely to lead to gas and bloating.
Broccoli, cauliflower and kale all fall under the category of cruciferous vegetables. These foods are high in a number of nutrients like folate, vitamin C, and fibre, but they also contain raffinose, a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can’t break down because we lack a certain enzyme to do so. Instead, raffinose is fermented by bacteria, a primary cause of gas and bloating. If you don’t want to give up these vegetables, try roasting or steaming them to make them easier to digest.
Legumes refer to plants that grow fruit in the form of a pod. Examples include beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans. These foods are all high in fibre and protein, which is what makes them good for you, but also what makes them hard to digest. Because legumes are packed with fibre that our bodies can’t absorb, our gut bacteria goes to work on them instead, which causes gas and bloating. To avoid this, try eating legumes with whole grains that are easy to digest like rice or quinoa, or soak dried beans overnight, which helps to break down non digestible fibre.
Even though they’re usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans – soluble fibres that can cause bloating. Those that are sensitive to fructans will have discomfort especially when consuming raw onions. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects. Alternatively, fresh herbs or spices can be used an alternative to onions.
Ready meals and processed food in general should be avoided if you’re trying to slim down, or stop bloating. These sorts of foods contain tons of artificial ingredients which lengthen the shelf life of the product, but these can be harmful to your body. Most ready meals are also devoid of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are pumped into the food instead, but these components are not nearly as good as the original sources, and far harder for the body to digest which can result in bloating and digestive discomfort. They’re often also packed with sugar and can often contain high amounts of salt which can lead to long term health problems.
By David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist at Leading Fitness App, Freeletics