Hitting the gym and eating healthy are definitely two of the most important things you need to do to feel good in your own skin. Swollen feelings of puffiness and bloating are usually the result of bad or heavy food that can’t be broken down easily. Our list contains the foods (and a few beverages) that should be avoided if your intestines are easily irritated and you frequently experience gas and stomach problems.
Pasta is one of those foods that can often cause bloating as the small intestine is having difficulty digesting it, passing it on to the large intestine, where the bacteria that break it down produce bloating and gas.
This is particularly the case when you re-heat pasta or eat at a restaurant that re-heats food.
Re-heating starchy foods seems to affect its molecules, turning the food into”resistant starch”, which isn’t particularly popular with most people’s digestive tract.
This effect can be reduced if pasta is eaten fresh, but if this doesn’t reduce the bloating either opt for whole wheat or buckwheat pasta, or avoid this food whenever you can.
Beans cause bloating, gas and puffiness because they contain oligosaccharide, a sugar we simply don’t have the enzymes to digest.
Beans arrive to the large intestine without being digested by the small intestine, which is what causes that uncomfortable feeling of bloating.
An enzyme that breaks down oligosaccharide and reduces stomach problems related to eating beans is alpha-galactosidase, which can be purchased over-the-counter under the name of Beano.
Consult with your physician first before taking this supplement and reduce your intake of beans. Eliminating beans altogether is not the answer as they contain plenty of healthy nutrients, but reducing them down to one-two small servings a week as a side to other foods that are easily digested is the best way to reap the benefits and lessen the undesired effects.
One of the reasons why bread may cause bloating and unpleasant stomach problems is intolerance to wheat, which has become increasingly common.
Consuming breads and pastry that don’t contain wheat may solve the problem, but another important ingredient of many breads to blame may be yeast.
Yeast may make you feel swollen and puffy simply because it’s puffy itself, and there is no reason why you wouldn’t avoid it altogether.
Opt for yeast-free breads made out of flour other than wheat flour, and include seeds such as pumpkin or sesame seeds, and bread may no longer be your tummy’s enemy.
Green veggies may not look like an obvious offender, but in reality they do cause digestive problems that can make you feel and look puffy.
Onions and artichokes contain fructose, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and asparagus contain raffinose, both types of sugars that lead to gas as they pass through the intestines.
In addition to sugar, soluble fiber is another component found in some veggies, including peas, that produces similar discomfort.
On the other hand, vegetables containing insoluble fiber, such as barley, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, prevent constipation and are considered “gut-friendly”. Increase your intake of insoluble-fiber veggies and decrease the intake of those veggies that contribute to bloating, and your digestive tract will be pleased with you.
Fruits constitute similar types of offenders as veggies due to very similar reasons.
Fruits that contain a sugar called sorbitol cause stomach problems because sorbitol cannot be broken down in our body, leading to bloating and gas.
Favorites such as apples, peaches, prunes and pears are packed with sorbitol and should be paired with easily digestible foods.
Fruits that contain soluble fiber include apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, and blueberries, and soluble fiber is not a “gut-friendly” ingredient of these foods. If you have consistent stomach problems, opt for raisins, grapes, bananas and guava fruit. In addition to reducing puffiness and bloating, eating these foods will cut down your waistline in half.
Many of our readers may be surprised to see oats on this list given how healthy they are, but oats have another side to them – they can cause bloating because they contain soluble fiber.
Oatmeal, oatmeal cookies and other similar products may lead to gas, which means they should be consumed in moderation to allow the body enough time to break them down.
Oat bran is the ingredient that is packed with soluble fiber in all oat products, and one of the effective ways to reduce your oat intake is to substitute oat bran for wheat bran, which easily passes through the digestive tract and is also healthy.
7. Dairy Products
Dairy products are known to cause digestive problems that can make you feel puffy all over.
Before entirely giving up on this food group, you should definitely consult with a nutritionist and have blood work done to make sure you’re not cutting out necessary nutrients out of your diet.
Dairy products contain lactose, a type of sugar that disrupts the digestive tract if the body doesn’t contain enough of the enzyme lactase to effectively break it down.
Lactose intolerance can be developed in later stages of life and can make cheese, milk and other similar products no longer welcome.
Not a food per se, sodas are packed with fructose, which is a type of sugar only liver can process.
Eating too much fructose can lead to liver overload, which results in fructose being turned into fat.
Not surprisingly, sodas can lead to bloating and puffiness due to the fizz which makes all sodas carbonated and which traps gas in the body.
Sodas are generally unhealthy and should be avoided for a host of other reasons in addition to leading to gas and stomach problems.
Plenty of other drinks, such as water and tea, don’t lead to bloating and are not packed with unhealthy sugar which leads to other health conditions, primarily affecting the cardiovascular health.
Eating excessive amounts of salt results in water retention, which in turn produces the feeling of bloating.
Water retention doesn‘t turn into fat, but it certainly increases your weight. Even if increased weight is not an issue, bloating, puffiness and an overall heavy feeling in the stomach certainly are.
On the other hand, not eating enough sodium leads to a reduction of water weight in the body, so the key here is definitely moderation and opting for healthy versions of salt, such as the Himalayan pink salt, one of the purest types of salt that can be used for cooking.
10. Processed Foods
We have written about the negative effects of processed foods time and again, and it’s no surprise that processed foods made their way to this list as well.
Foods such as frozen dinners, canned soup, condiments, sauces and so on are all tasty, but they are also foods that can cause bloating and unpleasant stomach problems.
One of the reasons why eating processed foods makes you look and feel puffy is because they contain excessive amounts of sodium. As we mentioned earlier, too much salt leads to water retention, resulting in uneasiness of the stomach and should altogether be avoided and replaced by fresh fruits and vegetables.
11. Fibre Supplements
Fibre supplements and a diet high in fibre can increase bloating, and although it is necessary for some individuals, a diet such as this can make you feel puffy.
Fibre supplements are usually introduced into a diet to fight constipation, but too much fibre over a short period of time can actually produce the opposite results. Fortunately, there are ways to combat this side effect of taking fibre supplements by drinking plenty of water.
Water is absorbed by fibre, which makes it easier for the digestive tract to break down fibre and pass it through the body. If you have intestinal problems, you should speak to your doctor before starting to take any supplements.
12. Sugar Substitutes
Sugar substitutes are generally not the healthiest option and should be avoided for a wide range of different reasons, among them being that they cause bloating and gas.
Artificial sweeteners, such as mannitol, maltitol and sorbitol lead to gas and that puffy feeling when you feel like you’ve swallowed a balloon.
A better option is always to go for natural sweeteners, such as honey or brown sugar to sweeten your food.
If you decide to keep sugar substitutes in your diet, make sure you increase your water intake to flush it out of your system more quickly, eventually decreasing the bloating.
13. Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is a widely popular habit in the U.S., the one that comes with numerous side effects, including gas and abdominal pain.
The main reason why chewing gum leads to bloating and similar occurrences is because we all swallow excess air while chewing gum, and that air turns into intestinal gas.
Another aspect of chewing gum that causes bloating is the fact that when you start chewing, you’re sending your stomach signals that food is coming, and the production of various enzymes and acids is activated.
Overproduction of stomach acid due to chewing can result in gas and intestinal distress, which can easily be avoided if you simply kick this habit.
Alcohol is clearly not a food, but it is consumed on a regular basis by many individuals, and it can trouble the digestive tract if consumed in a large amount.
Substituting alcohol for water every once in a while is definitely beneficial for a number of reasons, one being that water is a lot more friendlier to your waist line than beer or any other alcoholic beverage.
In addition to your tummy area, alcohol can make your face look swollen and puffy, and lead to the formation of cellulite.
It is actually the toxins in alcohol that lead to gas, skin problems, such as spots, and fat build up around your waistline.
15. Junk Food
By now it’s perfectly clear why junk food leads to bloating. Junk food is packed with sugar, salt and fat, all the ingredients that are not “gut-friendly”.
Your digestive tract will thank you if you swear off junk food, even if it’s just for a little while, and you’d be sure to see your Buddha belly shrink to a flat size.
Substitute junk food for fresh produce and plenty of water if you want to get rid of the excess weight around your abdomen and get rid of that swollen feeling in your stomach.
When we say junk food, we don’t just mean greasy burgers. We also mean chips, pretzels, pop corn and other unhealthy snacks.