STOMACH bloating is a natural part of life and can be spurred on by the food and drink we consume.
Bloating is caused when carbohydrates can’t be digested properly by the small intestine, leaving your stomach rounded.
Many people who have food allergies experience bloating, so if you often suffer from this condition you should speak to your GP.
Speaking to The Sun, Lisa Borg, nutritionist at Pulselight Clinic, said the majority of excess fat accumulation around the mid-section is due to unwise dietary choices and hormonal imbalances.
"Especially cortisol, grehlin, leptin, and insulin which are linked to stress, poor sleep, and a high intake of sugars," she explained.
However Lisa suggested that changing your meal contents can have a remarkable effect on stubborn fat around the stomach.
But how can you beat the bloat? Here are six foods to avoid if you want to get a flat stomach…
1. Give up the grains
While many health experts are always telling us to make sure we get plenty of grains in our diet, they might be the cause of your bloating.
Foods like rye and wheat contain fructan.
This is a carbohydrate that many people find difficult to digest.
Fructans are found in products such as bread, pasta, onions, garlic, barley, pistachio and broccoli.
Many people who think their stomachs are bloated because of a gluten intolerance are actually being irritated by fructans.
Experts say this is because when carbs cannot be absorbed they are fermented by gut bacteria.
This causes wind and bloating.
Speaking to The Sun nutritionist Kim Pearson said: "In terms of the top food to avoid I would suggest wheat-based starchy carbohydrate foods including bread, pasta, pizza, cereals and crackers etc.
What is FODMAP and how can it help?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols
A diet high in FODMAP foods can wreak havoc with your digestive system.
They are a chain of short-term carbs that are poorly absorbed in the digestive system.
If you already have gastrointestinal symptoms FODMAP foods can cause bloating, abdominal pain and constipation.
FODMAP foods include things like garlic and onions, both of which are two of the main offenders.
This is while some dairy foods and cooking ingredients such as carob powder can also irritate the stomach.
Speaking to The Sun consultant dietitian Ro Huntriss said: "Common triggers to bloating that many people aren’t aware of are onion and garlic.
"These foods ferment in the gut creating gas and bloating.
"A good way to test whether this is the case for you, is to complete a food and symptom diary and monitor your symptoms after eating these foods".
"These foods are typically highly processed and there are a number of ways they contribute to bloating.
"Gluten can cause an issue even for those who aren't coeliac and wheat is also a high FODMAP food.
"If you think wheat might be a contributing factor to your bloating, try cutting it out for a couple of weeks to see if symptoms improve."
2. Banish the booze
While many people enjoy a drink of an evening or weekend, or in some cases in the afternoon sun, alcohol can leave you feeling puffy and round.
Alcohol causes the body to retain water and in many cases the gas already in popular beverages such as beer and cider can lead to bloating.
Drinking too much can also cause constipation, which can leave people feeling heavy and bloated.
Alcohol is constantly irritating your gut.
If you still want to enjoy a drink then experts say you should stick to spirits such as vodka and gin.
You should also avoid mixing them with fizzy drinks such as lemonade and tonic.
3. Ditch the dairy
Most dairy products contain lactose which the body finds difficult to digest.
If you want to beat the bloat you should avoid products such as ice cream, cheese and milk.
Luckily it’s 2020 and there are a range of dairy free products that are available on supermarket shelves.
Swapping to soya based products may help stop the bloating.
People who are lactose intolerant do not have enough enzymes in their body to break down the sugars that most dairy products produce.
High dairy products can also settle for a while in your stomach and can cause unwanted stomach fat.
4. Curb the caffeine
While many of us are used to knocking back a couple of teas or coffees just to get through the morning slog, the caffeine you are consuming might be bloating you out.
Drinks like coffee may over excite the digestive system and could stimulate spasms in the bowel that may cause bloating.
If you think that just taking the milk out of the coffee is the route to a flat stomach, then think again.
Black coffee is extremely acidic and can irritate the stomach – causing swelling.
For an alternative you could try an energy boosting herbal tea.
Herbalist Jo Webber said: "Coffee and alcohol are among the prime substances that can irritate the gut.
"Coffee is also a stimulant, of course, and increases stress hormones – adding fuel to the fire that triggers those unpleasant IBS symptoms".
She said you should try teas made with herbs and aniseed.
5. Forget fried foods
If you're trying to lose weight you should probably stay away from fried foods anyway.
The coronavirus lockdown has meant more people are eating takeaways at home rather than going out for dinner.
Most fried foods are fast foods.
Fried foods manifest in your stomach and are packed with sodium and trans fats.
These usually create a build up of fat in your stomach.
6. Put packaged foods down
Dr Lisa told The Sun that packaged foods may also cause bloating.
"Packaged foods that have a long shelf life are loaded with preservatives and are no longer real foods per-se, and should be avoided to help metabolism.
"Avoiding them as well as sugars and processed foods will only have an effect if you add in healthy, clean foods that are organically produced and high in fibre like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds (metabolism can slow as a survival response where toxins are high)."
What else can you do to banish the bloat?
Dr Lisa said that adding cayenne pepper to your recipes could also help burn fat.
"Clinical studies found this to boost fat burning), and drinking Matcha Green Tea and including Wakame seaweed can also boost fat burning.
"Exercise plays a significant role too", she added.
This is while Jo said bloating can also be caused be other factors such as a lack of sleep.
"Poor digestive health can be the root cause of many unpleasant, embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms we can endure on a daily basis.
"Causing us to struggle with everything from excess flatulence after meals and constipation, to acid indigestion and unpredictable bowel habits.
"Whether it’s feeling heavy and windy after dinner, or not being able to get into your favourite jeans (despite you eating healthy and staying active) – digestive issues can cause us a lot of problems".
Jo recommends Ayurveda which is a traditional Indian medicine.
She also recommends the use of Aloe Vera products.
"You’ve probably heard about using aloe vera for cooling and soothing irritated skin.
"But it can also have that same cooling and calming effect for the gut. In fact, it’s used in Ayurveda as an ‘intestinal healer’ to calm and soothe the digestive tract.
"For an irritated gut, make sure you’re getting a high-quality aloe vera juice or gel made from the inner leaf of the plant."
Jo added that stress can also cause IBS and inflammation to occur.
"For most of us, finding stillness and calm – a place where stress can melt away – is a skill that needs to be learned.
"This is why meditation or mindfulness practices are a key part of the Ayurvedic lifestyle."
She said plenty of apps are available for this.
"Making one of these techniques or practices part of your daily life is ideal.
"But if stress affects your IBS, then a short meditation before you eat a meal could be especially helpful.
"Start by taking just five minutes before you eat to close your eyes and breathe deeply (five seconds in, five seconds out). You could find that even this makes all the difference", she added.
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