April marks IBS awareness month, dedicated to raising awareness of the condition, its symptoms and the effect it has on people’s lives. With 1 in 20 Brits estimated to have IBS, many of us are affected. Out of all the symptoms associated with digestive disorders, 41% of GPs struggle to manage bloating – the highest of any symptom.
However, ‘A change in diet’ is the most common treatment suggestion made by doctors to manage IBS symptoms – with 87% suggesting this to patients.
But which foods can trigger bloating, and which can aid with it? Experts at UkTherapyRooms.co.uk collaborated with Gastroenterology Dietician Cristian Costas to reveal the foods you should be avoiding and how to combat bloating!
IBS: Foods you should be avoiding and how to combat bloating
1. Which foods can commonly cause bloating?
According to Cristian, “Fried foods, highly processed foods or high fat foods can all contribute to bloating. Some people may also feel bloated after eating foods like chickpeas, lentils and beans as they can be more gas-producing. Some may be surprised to hear that chewing gum can contribute to bloating due to some of the sweeteners it contains.
Some people may also feel bloated after eating foods like onions, garlic, apples amongst other fruits and vegetables because they have some highly fermentable carbohydrates that can contribute to bloating. Some of these highly fermentable carbohydrates can also be found in wheat and dairy products. However, it’s key to remember that people can react to different foods, and it is important to rule out medical causes for symptoms and get advice from a dietitian before cutting foods out of the diet.
2. Which drinks can commonly cause bloating?
Dietitian Cristian asserts that “Alcohol, caffeinated drinks and fizzy or sugary drinks can all contribute to bloating. Furthermore, drinking with a straw can at times contribute to bloating too, as more air is swallowed when this is done. Fruit juices may also contribute to bloating due to having a high proportion of fruit sugars that can enter our digestive system at one time.”
3. Are there any foods which can aid with bloating, or prevent it?
“I would advise people to take their time with chewing food, as eating quickly can result in swallowing more air. I would also encourage people to not overdo it with portions of food, as filling the stomach up too much can contribute to feeling bloated. Increasing foods with higher amounts of fibre gradually can also help to reduce bloating, mainly by improving gut transit. You can try gradually adding more seeds into your diet (like linseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc) as well as nuts, whole grain sources of fibre and more fruits and vegetables with skin on them. Oats can also be beneficial.”
4. Are there any drinks which can aid with bloating, or prevent it?
“I would say that keeping well hydrated can really help too as this can help prevent constipation and help fibre work better within our gut once it is increased in the diet. People can also make some smoothies with some sources of fibre mentioned above to help gut transit.”
5. What are the signs you should be concerned by bloating, and what could it indicate?
Here Cristian outlines some of the more serious causes of bloating and what to do if you are suffering from symptoms: “Bloating will not always be caused by food and sometimes even if it’s caused by food, it is worth investigating things further to see if there is a medical condition contributing to the problem. If your bloating is regular and persists for more than 3 weeks it is worth getting it checked with a doctor, especially if it’s accompanied by other digestive symptoms.
Some common causes of bloating can be constipation, food intolerances and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, bloating can also be caused by other medical conditions like coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune condition where gluten can induce digestive symptoms and cause gut damage. To test for it with accuracy it is important that gluten is not removed from the diet prior to testing. This is why it is important to seek advice from a doctor and/or dietitian with regards to your symptoms before making changes to your diet.”