Beer is full of bubbles, which will leave you with a bloated belly. (It’s also worse than other carbonated beverages.) Research has shown that alcohol can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which can leave you feeling inflated.
2. Frozen Dinners
When you’re buying processed food, check the label to see how much sodium it has. Frozen dinners and canned soups are often packed with salt. It’s added to boost flavor and lengthen shelf life, but it may cause you to retain water and feel bloated.
Veggies are full of fiber, which means they can be difficult to digest and tend to produce gas in your GI tract. Cruciferous veggies (like kale and broccoli) contain raffinose, a sugar that produces extra gas as it breaks down and can make you feel like you’re carting around some extra fluff. But veggies also bring a ton of nutritional benefits to the table, so there’s no reason to swear off them completely. If you’re prone to bloating, cook your vegetables—the heat will help break down some of the fibers so your body doesn’t have to.
If you’re lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy (many of us are to some degree), you may notice that milk products cause you to feel bloated. When your gut bacteria breaks down milk, it releases gas, which can lead to that uncomfortably full feeling. There’s an easy way to figure out if milk and cheese are the culprits behind your bloat: Try an elimination diet and see if you feel better eating dairy-free.
5. Diet Soda
Besides the bubbles, diet sodas are laced with artificial sweeteners that your body doesn’t know how to digest. Research has found these sweeteners disrupt the microbiota (your body’s natural balance of gut bacteria), which can lead to a bigger belly, both short and long term.
They don’t call beans the musical fruit for nothing. Legumes require a big effort to break down. As your body works overtime digesting the sugar and fiber, it produces more gas in your gut, which can leave you with a bad case of bloat. But that shouldn’t be a reason to completely cut the superfood out of your diet. After all, it’s a great source of protein, iron, and folate. If you’re having a big meal, which can already lead to swelling, it’s probably best to steer clear of things like beans and edamame.
Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy causes most people to swallow more often—and part of what you’re swallowing is air. All of that extra air can back up in your digestive tract and leave you feeling bloated. Sugar-free gum is a particularly bad offender. Like diet soda, most sugar-free gum contains artificial sweeteners that are difficult for your body to break down and can cause you to feel gassy.
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