WE all have certain foods we love to indulge in: chocolate, a burger or a can of cola.
But – as yummy as they are – have you noticed that some treats leave you feeling gassy and uncomfortable?
Registered nutritionist and author of The Science of Nutrition, Rhiannon Lambert, shared a few foods she makes a point of avoiding to stave off gas and bloating, or more sinister issues such as cancer.
The 3 foods Rhiannon avoids:
1. Red and processed meats
Rhiannon told Sun Health: "A higher consumption of red and processed meats may increase the risk of colon (bowel) cancer."
Meats are processed if they've been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or with preservatives, NHS guidance states.
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They include sausages, ham and bacon, as well as deli like meats like salami.
By eating these, you also risk developing cardiovascular disease due to the high amounts of saturated fats in them, Rhiannon said.
"So it’s best to avoid these or keep intakes to a minimum," she added.
Numerous studies have linked the nitrates in popular breakfast foods like bacon and cold cuts to bowel cancer.
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They've also found that 60 per cent of Brits are unaware that eating processed meat can lead to bowel cancer.
2. Chewing gum
You might have thought that some chewing gum to clear you breath after a meal is pretty harmless – it's not even a proper food after all.
But it's another item that Rhiannon cautions against, especially if you want to avoid discomfort in your tummy.
"Eating this regularly, especially with your mouth open, can lead to people swallowing excess air which may result in bloating or gas," she explained.
3. Fizzy drinks
"This is similar to chewing gum, as the bubbles within these drinks contain air," Rhiannon continued.
"Consuming them means this air enters our digestive tract and may leave us feeling bloated or gassy."
"These can often also be quite high in sugars, so it's important we're mindful of our consumption to make sure we're not exceeding the daily recommendations of 30g of added sugars a day,"the nutritionist added.
Gut health experts gave the Huffington Post a few more examples of food they would avoid to keep a lid on gas and bloating.
Dr Mahmoud Ghannoum, a microbiome researcher and co-founder of BIOHM said deep fried chicken or fish isn't doing your gut any favours, as it could shake up your gut microbiome and lead to a build-up in fat and other substances in your artery walls.
In the long term, this build-up could lead to consequences like heart attacks and stroke.
Meanwhile, Dr Shilpa Grover, the director of the onco-gastroenterology program in the division of gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, brought up a pretty common food she makes a point of avoiding.
She said that eating refined grains – the kind you find in white bread – increases your risk of the digestive condition diverticulitis, which sees little bulges that develop in your intestine get inflamed or infected.
A severe case of the condition could cause tummy pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and blood or mucus in in your poo, NHS guidance says.
A diet of refined grains and processed meats could also increase your risk of of health conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer, including colorectal cancer, Dr Grover said.
And if your preferred pre-workout snack is a protein bar, you might want to think again before reaching for it, Dr Harmony Allison, a gastroenterologist at Tufts Medical Center, said.
While the ones made out of real fruit and nuts are better, Dr Allison said she never eats the highly processed ones, as they can lead to bloating and gas.
“You can get the same amount of protein in a cup of milk, a serving of peanut butter, nuts or pumpkin seeds," she noted.
What can I do to be less gassy?
Rhiannon had a few helpful tips when it comes to dealing with gas and bloating.
"Something we always discuss with our clients at the Rhitrition Clinic, is that there is no-one-size-fits-all treatment and managing symptoms tends to be personalised to you," Rhiannon told Sun Health.
She advised you make sure you get any advice from qualified healthcare professionals.
"Some foods are more prone to causing gases which leads to bloating such as beans, some vegetables, and fermented foods," Rhiannon said.
"Try to limit your intake if your consumption is already quite high."
However, you don't need to totally cut these foods out as they are also high in fibre, she noted.
Ultimately, it comes down to consuming them in a balanced way.
Rhiannon said: "For many a fibre-rich diet can actually reduce bloating and improve digestion, so make sure to include these as part of a balanced, healthy and varied diet."
She continued: "If bloating occurs because you’re constipated, eating foods that are higher in fibre such as avocados, apples, wholegrains, beans and pulses can help move food through the gut and lessen the symptoms of bloating."
Moving regularly throughout the day by having a walk or doing some yoga will also help improve digestion, prevent bloating and remove trapped gases.
CHEW ON IT
And did you know the way you chew can stop your belly swelling uncomfortably?
"Chew with your mouth closed to avoid swallowing excess air which can increase bloating," Rhiannon advised.
"Things like chewing gum and fizzy drinks should also be limited to help minimise the amount of air swallowed."
Rhiannon pointed out that while some research suggests probiotics may help bloating, evidence is mixed.
"But it seems that probiotic foods such as live yoghurt, kefir, and kombucha are beneficial for our gut health which may in turn help with symptoms like bloating."
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The nutritionist also hosts the podcast Food For Thought – she discussed simple ways which may help to manage bloating in one episode.
You can find more information on her Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and website.
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