Does your abdomen feel full or swollen occasionally? This awful bloated feeling is very common and is often a result of gas or other digestive problems. Read on to find out how you can change your diet to reduce bloating, and when you may need to seek professional help.


1. Soak and sprout your beans 


Alpha-galactosides are sugars found in the majority of beans. They are categorised as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols). FODMAPs refer to non-digestible short-chain carbohydrates that undergo fermentation by colonic bacteria, which produce gas as a by-product. As such, these sugars may cause bloating. To decrease FODMAPs, soak and sprout the beans prior to cooking. In particular, soaked black beans and pinto beans are more digestible.


2. Go for light-coloured lentils


On top of FODMAPs, lentils also contain large amount of fiber which can result in bloating in those who are sensitive or not used to high fiber consumption. Similarly, you can soak or sprout your lentils before consuming them or select light-coloured lentils over darker varieties as their lower fiber content will lessen the bloating effect.


3. Consume cruciferous vegetables in small portions


Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts can cause bloating in certain individuals due to the presence of FODMAPs. You should cook cruciferous vegetables to increase their digestibility. As they are highly nutritious, those who experience bloating after eating such vegetables should consume them in small portions. They can also go for alternatives like spinach and cucumbers.  


4. Replace onions with fresh herbs and spices


Onion is another culprit of gas as it contains fructans, which contribute to bloating. You should cook your onions to lower such effects or use fresh herbs and spices instead.


5. Limit your intake of artificially sweetened foods and beverages


Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol are used in replacement of sugar in artificially sweetened foods and drinks. Categorised as FODMAPs, high consumption of sugar alcohols can result in bloating and diarrheoa. You are recommended to limit your intake of artificially sweetened foods and beverages to a maximum of 2 or 3 servings a day. 


6. Drink more water, less carbonated drinks


Some of the carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks can get built up in your digestive system, making you feel bloated and uncomfortable. Apart from carbon dioxide, beers also contain fermentable carbohydrates which further contributes to bloating.


It’s time you take a break from carbonated drinks. Drink more water. You can also flavour your water naturally with lime, lemon or cucumber.  


7. Go for lactose-free milk products if you’re lactose intolerant


About 75% of the population in the world is lactose intolerant. This is a condition where individuals are unable to digest the lactose in milk due to the lack of the enzyme lactase. As a result, the undigested lactose is fermented by colonic bacteria, causing patients to experience bloating and gas. If you’re lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk products or other alternatives like soy or rice milk.


*If bloating still persists after you have tried the dietary tips above, please seek professional help.


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