It’s a harsh reality that some of our favorite healthy foods may actually be the primary culprits for significant inflammation. Bloating is one of the most common digestive issues to struggle with, and can be caused by a number of factors, from hormones to food intolerances. While it does not necessarily indicate a deeper health issue outside of holding onto excess gas, bloating can still be incredibly frustrating when you’re following a healthy diet and not seeing the benefits of your choices because your body continues to appear inflamed.
In order to pinpoint the primary cause of your bloating and decrease your chronically distended belly, it’s important to be aware of the foods that may be serving you nutritionally, but not for inflammation. To beat bloating once and for all, we checked in with registered dietitian Zoë Schroeder to get her rundown on the top three health foods that may be to blame for your irritated belly.
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Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are some of the most delicious and filling veggies you could add to your diet in the way of nutritional value. They’re high in fiber which can help to increase satiety, allowing your body to stay full for longer and effectively pave the way for weight loss. However, their fiber content is what puts your body at risk of bloating and inflammation. “High fiber, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower and brussels sprouts often cause bloating because of a gas that is produced during digestion. However, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these filling and nutritious plants,” says Schroeder. Not all hope is lost when it comes to eating your cruciferous veggies, and cooking them can help to increase the ease of which they’re digested, reducing bloating.
Dairy is a great source of protein as well as calcium which is essential for strong bones and an overall healthy body. That being said, dairy does not settle well with all stomachs, and for those suffering from lactose intolerance, certain dairy products can bring an increase of gas in the gut. “If you want to still enjoy low or nonfat dairy foods for their high calcium and protein content, I recommend taking lactase, which is the digestive enzyme for lactose, or find a lactose-free product like Fairlife or Lactaid,” suggests Schroeder. “If you want to use a protein powder from a dairy product but are lactose intolerant or sensitive, look for whey isolate protein, because the whey protein is isolated from the lactose sugar.” A simple alternative to dairy products is their plant-based counterparts, but while this will limit bloating, it also dramatically cuts back on your protein intake as well.
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Low-calorie sweeteners create the illusion of health by focusing on their lack of calories, but the reality is that they may be more problematic for your gut than natural sweeteners, promoting bloating and discomfort through digestion. “Even though these are low calories and sugar, which many opt for if trying to lose weight or improve health, your body has a difficult time digesting it which can cause bloating or discomfort,” explains Schroeder. Eliminating artificial sweeteners from your diet will ultimately serve your body well, instead replacing them with natural flavorings. “Try to substitute with adding sweet-associated flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla or almond extract,” Schroeder suggests.