Foods to Help Digestion and Bloating
| 3 min read
If your pants are a little harder to zip than yesterday, and intestinal problems leave you feeling uncomfortable or heading to the bathroom more than normal, you might be one of the millions of people who suffer from digestive issues. Most people don’t like to talk about these issues. But conditions like bloating and gas are very common. And a lot of it is linked to what we eat, and how healthy our gut’s microbiome is. Let’s look at some foods that may actually help ease digestion and bloating.
Digestive issues are widespread. Digestive problems like constipation, gas and even diarrhea are more common than you might think. They’re often considered silent health issues because most people don’t share details of their intestinal troubles with others. But an estimated 60 to 70 million people in the United States say they suffer from gastrointestinal illnesses, according to 2009 data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And these issues can be disruptive to people’s daily lives. A 2022 survey found that more than 40% of Americans had to stop some kind of activity - visiting with family, working out at the gym, even running errands - because they feared their gastrointestinal issues would get in the way.
And many people won’t discuss these kinds of problems with their healthcare provider unless the symptoms become severe.
Foods and Digestion
What we eat and how our gut reacts to the foods plays a big part in whether or not these gastrointestinal issues will flare up. And there is no cookie-cutter approach to this. Just because staying away from dairy products or broccoli works best for you does not mean it will offer the same relief to your friend who struggles with after-meal bloating.
In fact, some research has found that the balance of foods that keeps your intestinal tract happy is different for each person. That’s because each person’s microbiome profile is typically influenced by lots of factors over the course of their lifetime - including something as foundational as whether they were breastfed or given infant formula as a baby.
Our daily diets and our environment also keep influencing the mix of good and bad bacteria found in our gut. Keeping this complex microbiome in balance can be challenging, but it’s also important: A healthy gut makeup will reduce inflammation throughout the body and can help keep chronic illnesses like heart disease and some types of cancer at bay, according to research.
Foods that help with digestion and bloating
Some things we eat are better than others at helping ease our digestion and fighting off conditions like bloating and gas. These foods include:
- Green tea
Fiber is your friend
When is the last time you tallied up how much fiber you’re getting from your food every day? Taking stock of your fruit and vegetable intake - and reading food labels - is a good place to start. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams of daily fiber for women, and 38 grams for men.
If you suspect you’re not getting enough fiber most days, slowly add more high-fiber foods into your diet. These include not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, beans, legumes and whole grains like brown rice. Make room for these fiber-rich foods by swapping out other items that are high in fat or sugar.
Think about these food swaps as a lifestyle change that you have to give yourself a little time to get used to. If you have ongoing gastrointestinal problems, you should talk to your health care provider.
Photo credit: Getty Images