Bloating -- that uncomfortable feeling of a distended stomach -- typically occurs when gas isn't released through burping or flatulence. The key to avoiding and reducing the pain is reaching for foods that are high in fiber, probiotics and water, which all help the body digest food easily and regularly.
Insoluble fiber decreases bloating by bulking up stool, which makes bowel movements easier to pass and gas less likely to build up in the digestive system. Fiber-rich foods include whole grains, bran, nuts, beans and vegetables such as green beans and cauliflower. The key here is balance: Too much fiber can cause more bloating and excess gas. Introduce additional fiber into your diet slowly before reaching the recommended daily intake of 38 grams for men under 50; 30 grams for men older than 50; 25 grams for women under 50; and 21 grams for women over 50.
Yogurt for Digestion
Yogurt contains probiotics, strains of bacteria that regulate the body's digestive system, and eating it daily has been found to reduce bloating by up to 78 percent, according to a study from the University Hospital of Southampton. In the study, 34 women who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome ate one serving of a yogurt with live cultures each day; 87 percent of them said they felt less bloated after eating the yogurt regularly for two weeks. Yogurts marked with the label "contains live and active cultures" are stocked with bacteria that will aid digestion.
Water It Down
Although it might seem counterintuitive, drinking plenty of water -- and eating fruits and vegetables with high water contents -- is key to reducing bloating. When your body is bloated, it is often retaining water to prevent dehydration. Drinking more water will push fluids through your system and reduce the uncomfortable feeling of being bloated. An ideal daily amount: 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women.
Pineapple as a Palliative
Pineapple reduces bloating in two ways: It has a high water content -- about 85 percent -- which helps the body break down fiber and process foods more efficiently, and an enzyme called bromelain, which promotes digestion and breaks down protein, according to "Marie Claire."
Turn the Tide With Watermelon
This summertime fruit lives up to its name: The melon is made up of 92 percent water, which means your body gets the fluids it needs to keep your digestive system moving and prevent bloating. As an added bonus, watermelon also contains plenty of potassium, an electrolyte that, in combination with sodium, helps the body maintain hydration and beat bloat.
- Medical News Today: What Is Fiber?
- Dr. Oz: Bloating 101: How to Beat a Bulging Belly
- Marie Claire: 13 Flat-Belly Foods That Beat the Bloat
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Bromelain
- Womans Day: All Natural Ways to Fight Bloating
- PR Newswire: Probiotic Yogurt Helps Reduce Physical Bloating by up to 78%, According to New Research
- Fitness Magazine: 6 Foods That Fight Off Belly Bloat
- CNN: How Much Water Should You Drink?
- Dr. Oz: Your Over-35 Survival Kit