Top eight foods that cause bloating

A look at the top eight foods that cause you to bloat and why you should avoid them.

How many times do you hear someone proclaim they are "bloated"? It is such a familiar term that we use to describe discomfort we feel in our abdomen, usually after eating.

Not long ago, medical professionals thought bloating, often reported by those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), was but a figment of their patients' imaginations.

According to Dr Barbara Bolen, a leading figure in the treatment of IBS, bloating is a fairly universal phenomenon, with approximately 16 to 30 per cent of the general population suffering from it. These percentages increase significantly among IBS sufferers, with 80 to 90 per cent reporting being bloated regularly.

Bloating is defined as increased pressure in the abdomen. Women are more likely to suffer than men.

The causes are many, ranging from poor digestion, stress, food intolerances, food allergies and hormonal imbalances. But there are known food culprits that, if bloating is an issue for you, definitely need to be avoided.

1. Beans

Beans are super healthy but if your digestion isn't up to speed, they will cause you a problem that is not so pleasant. They contain a type of sugar that is not digestible, so gas can be produced - and bloating then is not far away.

2. Salt

Salt causes your body to retain water, predominantly around your abdomen. Not all bloating is a result of gas. Sometimes it is water retention, which salt exacerbates. In some ways, water retention is even harder to alleviate than gas, so it is important to avoid high-salt food.

3. Junk food

Junk food is loaded with fat, sodium and sugar, not to mention highly processed foods that are hard for your body to digest. Your body simply doesn't have the tools to digest and the result is discomfort and bloating.

4. Cruciferous vegetables

Vegetables, like beans, are healthy, but if your digestive fire is not burning as brightly as it should, then cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts may cause unwanted bloating. They are similar to beans, containing a sugar that is hard to digest and requires methane-releasing bacteria to break them down. Don't avoid vegetables completely. Instead choose safer options such as dark, leafy greens, spinach and kale.

5. Dairy

Dairy contains lactose, which many adults cannot digest. It is estimated that 75 per cent of the world's population is lactose intolerant. This inability to digest and break down dairy causes gas and, subsequently, bloating and discomfort.

6. Fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks are your stomach's worst nightmare. Adding gas to your body is only going to create even more gas during digestion. If you get bloated, then definitely ditch the fizzy stuff.

7. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates often contain white flour, which proves troublesome for some people's digestion. The processed wheat is hard to break down, which in turn creates a build-up within your system that is responsible for wheat intolerances, often with bloating as a prime symptom.

8. Chewing gum

Chewing gum is a disaster for your digestion because it causes your stomach to ready itself for food. When food doesn't enter your stomach, digestion is upset and gas is created - not to mention the air you swallow when chewing.