Whether it’s the constant urge to graze throughout the day or a late-night craving before bed, sometimes the need to snack is unavoidable.
In these moments, it’s often easier to buy something unhealthy but tasty, but you may have to pay a price. Dr. Kenneth Brown, a gastroenterologist from Texas, explains how unhealthy snacking habits can lead to uncomfortable and, frankly, unwelcome bloating.
Dr. Brown told Weekly newspaper Snacking can lead to bloating or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so it’s important for people to monitor what they eat.
Modern life is fast-paced and chaotic, so we often find ourselves reaching for ready-made snacks that are high in sugar because we need that extra energy. But there are healthier alternatives that won’t cause bloating.
“If you have issues like irritable bowel syndrome or bloating, chances are you have some bacteria growing in your small intestine where they shouldn’t, which is called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,” he continued.
“The more frequently you eat, the more often you feed these bacteria. They multiply, and over time, this can become a chronic problem that makes your digestive problems worse.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 10 to 25 percent of healthy people experience bloating, and 75 percent describe their symptoms as moderate to severe.
Bloating is usually an excess of intestinal gas that causes a painful feeling of fullness and tightness in the stomach, as if there is pressure on the stomach. The Cleveland Clinic says this is often caused by digestive issues, but in some cases, it can also be caused by hormones or stress.
What snacks don’t cause bloating?
Giving up snacking entirely is a pretty big move, but may not be sustainable in the long run. Thankfully, Dr. Brown, founder and chief medical officer of digestive supplement product manufacturer Atrantil, has some suggestions for healthy snacks that won’t cause bloating.
“Cucumbers are 96 percent water, which makes them an excellent choice for hydration and satiety,” he says. “They also contain vitamin K, vitamin C and a small amount of potassium. Cucumbers contain no hard-to-break-down carbohydrates known to produce gas.
“Olives are a good source of healthy fats, providing health-promoting monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. They are low in fermentable carbohydrates and fiber and generally do not cause bloating. Olives also contain polyphenols, which strengthen the microbiome , can reduce systemic inflammation.
“Blueberries are low in fermentable carbohydrates, high in water, and easy to digest. Blueberries also provide vitamin C, manganese, and small amounts of prebiotic fiber to support overall health. Their mixture of water and anti-inflammatory compounds allows blueberries to provide key-free Nutrients without burdening digestion, making it a smart choice to avoid bloating.”
It’s always good to keep a varied diet, so if these options don’t quite solve the problem, there’s more to consider:
- Chicken or turkey slices
What snacks should be avoided?
It’s usually pretty clear whether a snack is healthy – if it’s fried or covered in chocolate, then it’s probably not good for you. But Brown explains how helpful it is to reduce your intake of fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs.
“These are short-chain carbohydrates that tend to be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, but bacteria can break them down, producing gas and bloating,” he says.
FODMAP is an abbreviation for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols and stands for carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems.
Symptoms of these digestive problems include cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Therefore, when trying to relieve these symptoms, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center recommends avoiding legumes, wheat products, dairy products, and some vegetables, such as asparagus, onions, and garlic.
Brown adds that “even healthy foods can trigger indigestion symptoms” if they are high in fermentable carbohydrates. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the nutritional value of food.
Why does snacking cause bloating?
While swapping unhealthy choices for healthier alternatives is a great way to deal with uncomfortable and sometimes painful bloating, Brown insists there’s no better solution than skipping snacks altogether.
“I tell my patients to try to avoid snacking,” he told Weekly newspaper. “Eating small amounts of food throughout the day disrupts the body’s natural reduction of insulin and causes insulin resistance, which prevents us from using our own fat for fuel.
“Snacking can also have a negative impact on digestion. The digestive system is designed to operate without food for a period of time, allowing it to repair itself, clear bacteria, and improve the health of good bacteria, known as the microbiome.”
If you find yourself snacking but aren’t necessarily hungry, it may be more of a comfort habit than actual hunger. Brown recommends going without food for long periods of time, adding that “fasting can be beneficial.”
“Fasting can be done in a variety of ways, but I like to do something called intermittent fasting. This is when you try not to eat any calories for at least 16 hours, and then you eat within 8 hours. This It has been shown to support digestive health as well as cellular health.”
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