These foods cause bloating

Typical causes of a bloated stomach can be certain foods. Learn more reasons and helpful tips on how to reduce and avoid bloating.

When you think of meteorism, you probably think of astronomy first. In fact, it is the medical term for a bloated stomach. “Meteor” comes from the Greek word metéoron, which means “air phenomenon”.

This applies to both shooting stars and a balloon-like bloated stomach. A bloated stomach is caused by an excessive accumulation of air or gases in the digestive tract, more precisely in the large intestine or stomach. Meteorism is not a disease, but a symptom that can affect anyone and have a variety of causes.

What is a bloat?

Gases such as hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane are naturally produced during digestion. Likewise, air enters the abdomen when breathing, eating and speaking. On average, there are about 150 milliliters of gases in the intestine.

Most of it is absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestinal wall and transported out of the body via the lungs when you breathe out. The other part escapes when you belch or as an intestinal gas. Up to 1.5 liters of intestinal air escape every day – 15 to 20 farts a day are therefore completely normal.

Certain foods, eating habits, but also stress and illnesses can lead to an increased accumulation of air in the digestive tract. If the intestinal gases escape rectally, this is called bloating (flatulence). However, if they are not broken down sufficiently naturally – i.e. by exhaling, belching or passing intestinal wind – the abdomen bloats. Not necessarily, but often, bloating and flatulence occur together.

Causes of bloating

There can be many reasons why your stomach suddenly bloated. The reasons for gas formation in the abdomen are mostly harmless:

Gassy foods: High-fat, spicy, heavily sweetened or high-fiber foods in particular are heavy on the stomach and cause bloating. They contain certain substances that stimulate gas production in the intestine. For example, there are sugar molecules in legumes that cannot be processed by the small intestine. When bacteria break it down in the large intestine, gases are then produced.

Sugar and sugar substitutes: Excessive consumption of sugar or sugar substitutes such as fructose, xylitol, maltitol, mannitol or sorbitol promotes bloating. Sugar substitutes are mainly found in diet and light products, soft drinks, sweets, convenience products and sugar-free chewing gum. Fructose and sorbitol also occur naturally in fruit and dried fruit.

Food intolerances: Intolerances to certain foods also cause a bloated stomach. Examples are gluten intolerance (celiac disease), fructose intolerance (fruit sugar) or lactose intolerance.
Chewing: When you gobble your meals, you swallow more air, which causes your stomach to bloat. In addition, eating under stress is usually accompanied by insufficient chewing. If insufficiently chewed food reaches the intestine, it is digested there mainly by intestinal bacteria and not by saliva. In the process, sulphur-containing gases can form.

Eating habits: Different food combinations can also cause bloating in sensitive people. Unfavorable combinations are, for example, grain and fruit (bread with jam, fruit cake) or grain and cheese (cheese bread, cheesecake, pizza).

Lack of exercise: In addition to diet, the symptoms can also be caused by a lack of exercise. The intestines become sluggish, the further transport of food slows down and the risk of a bloated stomach increases. Not only is there a risk of flatulence, but also constipation.

Medications: Taking antibiotics throws the intestinal flora off balance. The result: the stomach reacts more sensitively to foods that are difficult to digest and the risk of bloating increases. Laxatives or antidiabetics can also trigger a bloated stomach.

Smoking: When you smoke, your body breathes in excess air. Just one or two cigarettes a day are enough to increase the risk of bloating.

Chewing gum: When chewing gum, more air gets into the stomach and intestines. This gives the body the wrong signal that it is getting food and stimulates digestion. Many sugar-free chewing gums also contain artificial sugar substitutes, which also promote bloating.

Stress: In times of stress and mental stress, the body releases more of the hormone cortisol, which slows down digestion. This allows sugar molecules to enter the intestines, where the bacteria produce gases as they break them down. Stressed people also tend to eat quickly, which also causes more air to enter the stomach.

Hormones: In women, bloating is often caused by hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause. During this time, the body produces more progesterone. The hormone relaxes the intestinal muscles, which is why the stomach inflates faster. In addition, the body stores more water in the tissue.

Clothing: Pants that are too tight, belts or so-called shapewear can promote a bloated stomach – especially in connection with a sumptuous meal. Excessive abdominal wall pressure has a negative effect on the distribution of air in the intestine and disrupts the further transport of the intestinal contents, causing the abdomen to bloat.

Roemheld Syndrome: It describes a group of symptoms that are triggered by excessive gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract. In the foreground of this syndrome are complaints of the heart, especially chest tightness and chest pain.

Most common cause: Flatulent foods

In most cases, bloating occurs after eating. The following table shows both foods that have a strong flatulent effect and foods that are easy to digest. If your stomach is often bloated, you should avoid the foods in the left column or eat them in moderation. Instead, use the alternatives listed.

The intensity and frequency of gas formation depends on the individual intestinal flora. Every body has its own composition of intestinal bacteria and therefore tolerates certain foods more or less well. In sensitive people, the “wrong” order of food can also lead to a bloated stomach.

It is best to eat the things that are most easily digested first: fruit, followed by salad, rice, cheese and meat. Starchy foods are also easier to digest than high-protein foods. It is best to keep a food diary and document which foods cause bloating.

Foods that cause gas. Digestible foods

Baked goods fresh bread, yeast pastries, bread made from finely ground wholemeal flour, sourdough bread

Vegetables Cabbage, onions, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, garlic, leeks zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, fennel, fennel seeds, lettuce, kohlrabi, broccoli

Fruit stone fruit, citrus fruit, dried fruit bananas, watermelon, cranberries

Meat duck, goose veal, beef, poultry, game
Sausage Salami, Mettwurst, Teewurst Beer ham, boiled ham, poultry sausage
Fish smoked fish, eel, herring, salmon, sardines pangasius, pollock
Potato products Fried potatoes, potato pancakes, croquettes, French fries, boiled potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, dumplings
Dairy products Cream, whole milk, fatty cheese Low-fat milk, low-fat cheese
Drinks Fruit juices, carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, black tea, still water, unsweetened tea
Legumes Peas, beans, lentils
Diet products, light products, sugar-free chewing gum

Diseases as a cause of a bloated stomach

Bloating can also be a symptom of a condition related to the digestive system, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or vomiting. If a bloated stomach occurs again and again over a long period of time, the following diseases can be behind it:

Irritable bowel / irritable stomach: A bloated stomach is one of the most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The lower abdomen is affected in the case of irritable bowel syndrome and the upper abdomen in the case of irritable stomach. Many patients have a combination of irritable stomach and irritable bowel.

Intestinal fungus: Intestinal fungi are usually yeast fungi of the genus Candida albicans. They break down carbohydrates from food into carbon dioxide and fusel alcohols, causing a bloated stomach. The cause of intestinal fungi can be a diet high in white flour and sugar and the use of antibiotics.

Gluten intolerance (celiac disease): In people with celiac disease, even traces of gluten in the diet can lead to symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea and flatulence.

Crohn’s disease / ulcerative colitis: A regular bloating can also be the result of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While Crohn’s disease can affect the entire digestive tract from the oral cavity to the anus, ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine.

Inflammation of the gastric mucosa (gastritis): Inflamed gastric mucosa is usually accompanied by a bloated stomach, a feeling of fullness and diarrhea. Common causes of gastritis are stress, alcohol or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis): In the case of an inflammation of the pancreas, the digestion of fat and protein is disturbed. As a result, undigested food components reach the large intestine, where more gases are produced as a result of decomposition. The most common causes of pancreatitis are gallstones and excessive alcohol consumption.

Diabetes: Long-standing diabetics often suffer from nerve disorders. If the nerves that control bowel movements are affected, the bowel becomes sluggish. The result is constipation and bloating.

Portal hypertension (portal hypertension): Due to heart failure (heart failure) or liver disease (cirrhosis), blood can accumulate in the portal vein, a large vein, up to the liver. This blood congestion can also affect the digestive organs and lead to bloating.

colon cancer
intestinal obstruction

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Symptoms: This is how a bloated stomach manifests itself

The name says it all: with a bloated stomach, the stomach is strongly arched forward and feels unusually large. He is sensitive to pressure, abdominal pain occurs, gurgling and rumbling in the abdomen are clearly audible. Other symptoms can include nausea, loss of appetite and a feeling of fullness. Diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and abdominal cramps can also occur.

Flatulence, i.e. foul-smelling wind, which occurs more often with a bloated stomach, is particularly unpleasant. The smell of these gases is generally not uncommon. In the course of digestion, fermentation processes usually take place, the products of which smell bad. Sometimes a bloated stomach occurs without flatulence.

Symptoms at a glance:

bulging abdomen
Gurgling and rumbling in the stomach
bloating (flatulence)
abdominal pain, abdominal cramps
loss of appetite

What helps against a bloated stomach: home remedies and tips

Herbal helpers: If your stomach tenses and pinches, herbal tea is the first choice. Freshly brewed tea made from ginger, turmeric, sage or peppermint boosts digestion and relieves painful flatulence. The essential oil of the plants helps to break down fats better and dissolves gas bubbles in the intestine. Caraway, anise, chamomile, fennel and basil also have a positive effect on the stomach and intestines. Alternatively, you can also use the herbs and spices to refine dishes.

Cranberries: The red fruits – whether taken as juice or pure – free your body from excess water, toxins and the annoying bloated stomach.

Heat: If the stomach cramps, the bloating becomes twice as uncomfortable. Then a hot water bottle can help. It relieves the bloated feeling and relaxes the entire gastrointestinal area.

Abdominal massage: A massage can help with an acute bloated stomach. Lie on your back and lightly massage your abdomen in a clockwise circular motion. This will help the gases escape.

Movement: A gentle abdominal muscle workout has a similar effect to a massage. The alternation between muscle tension and relaxation activates the abdominal muscles and relaxes the intestines. Even simple exercises such as “cycling” in the air while lying down push unwanted air out of the large intestine.

Hay flower sack: A warm hay flower sack has a relaxing effect and calms a bloated stomach. You can either get it in the pharmacy or you can simply make one yourself: Sew a fabric bag measuring around 30 x 50 cm and fill it two-thirds full with hay flowers, which you can also buy in the pharmacy. Warm the hay flower sack in a pot of boiling water, squeeze it out, let it cool down a bit and lay it on your stomach for 20 to 30 minutes.

Treatment: When to see a doctor?

A bloated stomach is harmless in most cases. If there are no other symptoms, you do not have to go to the doctor with flatulence or a bloated stomach. A change in diet and eating habits usually helps.

Anyone who reduces or even avoids flatulent foods and still often suffers from a bloated stomach should have a check-up. In this case, the symptoms could hide a serious illness. Anyone who has severe abdominal pain in addition to bloating, suffers from nausea or has to vomit should also see a doctor.

To make the diagnosis easier for the doctor, it is recommended to keep a food diary for a few weeks. In it you record day after day what you eat and how you feel afterwards – both physically and mentally. In this way, the doctor can better assess whether you are allergic to a certain food or even have an intolerance. In this case, a change in diet is necessary. If an intestinal disease is behind the symptoms, its treatment is the focus of therapy.

What helps with a bloated stomach?

Anyone who regularly suffers from bloating can also try to rebuild their intestinal flora with therapeutic fasting or an intestinal cleansing. Therapy with probiotics can help, especially in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Incorrect colonization of the intestines with yeast fungi can be treated with a Candida diet. If stress is the main cause of the symptoms, yoga and meditation are recommended.

Medication for bloated stomach

The home remedies and methods mentioned are always the first remedy for a bloated stomach. So-called defoamers can help in the short term. They prevent larger amounts of gas from building up in the intestines. Get advice from a doctor or pharmacist about the dosage and side effects of the medication beforehand.

If the bloating occurs in connection with abdominal cramps, antispasmodic drugs – so-called antispasmodics – can help to relax the intestinal muscles.

Some people cannot properly digest foods that contain fat, protein, or carbohydrates because the stomach, pancreas, or liver do not produce enough of the appropriate digestive enzymes. Medications containing these enzymes support digestion and can relieve or prevent bloating.

If a bloated stomach is the result of a disease, it must be treated. Cortisone preparations or immunosuppressants can be used in chronic intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Preventing intestinal problems: This prevents bloating

If you regularly suffer from bloating, it is worth analyzing your own eating habits first. What is particularly important is the type of food, how it is prepared and your eating habits. Eat mainly easily digestible foods and also pay attention to the order and combination of foods. Take your time with meals, do not eat standing or walking, and chew food thoroughly.

Other tips to prevent bloating:

1. Steam vegetables: If you don’t want to do without vegetables, you should steam or blanch them. The stomach tolerates that better. Raw food, on the other hand, often causes problems for the stomach.

2. Toast bread: You should not eat wholemeal bread fresh, but let it rest for a day so that it is more digestible. Toasting the bread beforehand also helps.

3. Soak legumes: Soaking legumes in 80 degree hot water for a few hours reduces the level of flatulent sugar molecules by up to 80 percent. Of course, it is important that you pour the water away afterwards and boil the legumes in fresh water.

Canned water can also promote the development of a bloated stomach and flatulence and should therefore be thrown away. It is also more digestible to enjoy the legumes as a soup or stew.

4. Eat bitter substances: Kitchen herbs (savory, tarragon, rosemary and thyme), vegetables (broccoli, chicory, Brussels sprouts) and leafy salads (dandelion, cress, rocket, radicchio) contain many bitter substances that stimulate digestion and counteract a bloated stomach.

5. A glass of water before a meal: A glass of still water before a meal activates salivation and can help prevent bloating. However, you should not drink during meals, as this will dilute the stomach acid.

6. Healing earth before eating: Healing earth is a powder obtained from loess and binds excess air and gas in the digestive tract. Dissolve one to two tablespoons of healing earth in a glass of water and drink it about 30 minutes before a meal. The particles bind acids and fats and accelerate transport through the intestines, giving the bacteria less time to form gases.

7. Slowly accustom your intestines to fiber: Fiber is healthy and important for the intestinal flora. Increase your fiber intake little by little and only eat small portions of fiber-rich foods to slowly get your stomach and intestines used to them. It is also important to drink a lot in connection with fiber.

8. Digestive walk: Take short walks more often after eating to counteract meteorism.

9. Rule out intolerances: You can eat foods that you might be allergic to and then skip them again to check for such effects. In suspicious cases, however, only a visit to the doctor can provide certainty.

10. Build up intestinal flora: Probiotics (e.g. yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut) and prebiotics (psyllium, linseed, apples) help to build up a healthy intestinal flora. If you want to improve your digestion in the long term, you should eat probiotic and prebiotic foods regularly.

Sensitive bellies also tolerate several small meals spread over the day better than three large meals. Regular exercise and a daily intake of around two liters of water are also important to keep your digestion going.

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