What To Do About Gas & Bloating?
Gas and bloating is never any fun, and unfortunately this can be a chronic issue. I would have to say it’s usually something in your diet that’s either causing it or contributing to the problem. It could be that certain foods aren’t being digested properly, or you might have a food allergy or sensitivity, or your digestive system just doesn’t handle certain foods well, or a combination of all these things.
In order to get rid of the gas and bloating, it’s always best to figure out what exactly is causing it. For some people it might just be one thing that’s setting everything off, and for others it can be a combination of things. The good news is you can do some experiments that are relatively easy, and will give you a very clear indication as to what’s working and whats not.
Finding out the cause of the gas and bloating – short-term diet experiments:
Below are a bunch of experiments you can try. Before we get into it, I suggest reading this whole article over and watching the video, then think about all the foods I’ve addressed in the video and article, is there any of these foods that you are eating a lot of? Many times it’s something we eat regularly (even something that is the hardest to give up) that could be causing the most issues and gastric distress.
1- Allergenic Foods & An Elimination Diet
Recently I’ve written a few blog posts about trying an elimination diet if you suspect you have an allergy or sensitivity to common allergenic foods like dairy products, wheat/wheat gluten, soy, eggs, corn, etc. If you have chronic gas and/or bloating, I would suggest you try an elimination diet or even get blood tests done to see if you do in fact have a food allergy or sensitivity to a certain food.
Gas and bloating is one of the top symptoms of food allergies or sensitivities. As I mentioned above, many times it could very well be a food you love and eat regularly that may be causing the most issues. So by reading the list of the common allergenic foods (dairy products, wheat/wheat gluten, eggs, soy, corn, etc.) and you’re thinking “hmm, I eat dairy products for breakfast and lunch everyday, maybe that’s it…” I would suggest starting an elimination diet with that very food you eat the most regularly.
How To Do An Elimination Diet:
Choose one of the allergenic foods (dairy products, wheat/wheat gluten, soy, corn, eggs, etc.) and take a break from eating that food for 2-4 weeks. If in that 2-4 weeks you notice your symptoms decrease or completely go away, than you’ll know that this is where the problem is coming from. If your symptoms don’t get better after 2-4 weeks, then re-introduce that food back into your diet, and choose another allergenic food to eliminate for another 2-4 weeks. Repeat this process with all the allergenic foods, or until you figure what food is causing the issue.
The most important thing with an elimination diet is not to eliminate all the allergenic foods at once. If you do, you might be needlessly eliminating certain foods from your diet, and you’ll never know what is really causing the issue. I have to say, most people are not allergic or sensitive to all allergenic foods, it’s usually just one or two of these foods that is causing the issues. Also, make sure to do the elimination diet for 2-4 weeks. Many times people don’t give it enough time, they eliminate a certain food for just a few days, and then re-introduce it back into their diet before their body has a chance to respond to the change of diet.
Fruit is a very fast digesting food, and therefore it can be a big contributor to gas and bloating. Some people can eat all the fruit they want, at any time of day, with any other food, and have absolutely no issues. Others, the moment they combine fruit with other foods, or even eat too much of it, they get bad gas and bloating. The reason why some people have issues with fruit is because of how fast it breaks down and digests, and sometimes because of what else the fruit is eaten with, and also some people are sensitive to the fructose (naturally occurring fruit sugar) in fruit which can also cause digestive issues.
If you suspect your gas and bloating might have something to do with the fruit you’re eating, here’s a few experiments to try:
Experiment with eating fruit on it’s own
For 2 weeks, try eating fruit only in the morning, on an empty stomach, and don’t eat any other type of food with it. Wait at least an hour before eating anything else. Also, don’t eat fruit at any other time of the day, but the morning. If after two weeks you notice big improvements, then you now know the gas and bloating has to do with the fruit – it’s either that eating fruit with other foods doesn’t agree with you, or it could be the type and/or the amount of fruit you are eating. Either continue with just eating fruit on it’s own in the morning, or you can try the next experiment to see if the issue is from fructose sensitivity.
Fructose sensitivity – Experiment with low sugar fruits
Some people have a sensitivity to fructose, and the fruits that can cause the most issues are the sweeter, higher glycemic fruits like tropical fruit (pineapple, mangos, papaya, etc.). If you suspect this could be an issue for you, try only eating low glycemic fruits (berries, apples, pears, grapefruit, etc) for 2 weeks, and see if this helps.
I have to say that this issue might not only have to do with the high sugar content of the fruit, but also eating imported goods that may have been sprayed with preservatives, have mold growing on it, and isn’t fresh. Eating locally, and seasonally, is always best, and for most people their bodies will respond better to fresh food that is grown in their local environment.
One last things I will mention for those that really have a hard time digesting fruit and it seems whatever fruit you eat causes gas and bloating – try dried fruit instead of fresh fruit for a while and see if that helps. Always make sure the fruit is pure and not dried with sulphites (see this article to know the difference). I have coached a few people that did better eating small amounts of dried fruit for a while instead of fresh. Eventually they were able to re-introduce small amounts of fresh fruit back into their diet, but taking the break from the fresh fruit gave their digestive system a well needed rest, and their body responded better to it.
Not everyone can digest high amounts of fibre. This doesn’t mean that if you have issues digesting fibre you should eat processed and refined food. What it means instead is being creative with experimenting with different ways of preparing your healthy food to make the fiber easier to break down and digest.
If you recently switched over to a whole food diet, or you’re trying to eat healthier, and have more fresh foods in your diet, but ever since you made the switch you’ve been getting terrible gas and bloating, it could very well be the fiber in the foods you are eating. I have to reassure you that this is quite normal, and expected, and you have to give you body some time to adjust to the high fiber food. I would say with any diet change, you’ve got to give your body a few weeks to adjust to the change of diet and food. There’s no need to rush the transition period. But let’s say after a month, you’re still getting terrible gas and bloating and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, then you need to make some adjusts, and experiment with different ways of preparing your food.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Whole Grains, Beans, Legumes
Most whole grains, beans, and legumes have phytic acid and soaking them in water over night before cooking them can help to remove it and make the beans, legumes and whole grains more easily digestible. This is something you can definitely try!
If you have already tried soaking the grains, beans, legumes, and this doesn’t seem to help, then I would first suggest keeping note as to which ones you know for sure it doesn’t work with. I’ve coached many people who tell me they can’t digest grains, even if they soak them, and then it turns out they’ve only tried to eat one type of grain! Even if one grain doesn’t digest well, doesn’t mean you’ll have a problem with all. And the same goes with beans and legumes.
Also there’s so many different ways to prepare grains, beans, and legumes. For some who have a hard time digesting the fiber, eating the grains or beans that have been processed down in some way can help – for example having pureed beans in a dip, eat a whole grain sprouted bread, etc. You’re still eating the whole food but you’ve processed it down or broken it down before eating it, which will make it much easier to digest.
Also, if you suspect grains, beans, or legumes are causing gas and digestive issues, I recommend reducing the portions or amounts you are consuming. Many times when people just use grains and beans as a condiment instead of as the main meal, it makes a big difference in digesting the food. Examples would be instead of eating a bowl of beans, have a small handful of beans tossed into a salad, or instead of having a lentil soup, have a vegetable soup with a small amount of lentils mixed in. These small details can actually make huge differences.
Out of all vegetables, I find leafy green vegetables to be the easiest to digest. Whether having them raw in a salad, or steamed or sautéed, green leafy vegetables act as a broom in the digestive system without causing gas.
Vegetables to watch out for are cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc., and nightshade vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. These types of vegetables are known to cause gas and bloating for some people. If you eat a lot of these vegetables, take a break for a week or two to see if your digestion improves.
Like the whole grains and beans, I suggest experimenting with different ways of preparing your vegetables. Some people have a much easier time digesting their vegetables if they cook them instead of eating them raw. Others, find it easier to eat them cut up in tiny pieces, whereas others can only have them mashed or puréed. If you are having a hard time digesting vegetables, start with small amounts in your diet, and experiment with different ways of preparing them.
One last thing I want to mention, and that is the importance of water and exercise. This is SUPER important. People move around less and less, and are chronically dehydrated– both of which causes constipation, stagnation, trapped air and gas, and overall ill health.
If you have issues with gas and bloating, you must move around, walk, exercise, stretch, get your heart rate going, sweat a bit. And, you must keep drinking water. Water won’t make you more bloated, in fact it will do the reverse, once you are hydrated again, it will work to keep the bloat down and release water retention and fluid imbalance. Drink water and exercise more!
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