Stomach bloating is more than an inconvenience – the stretching sensation in the tummy can be painful and leave people feeling self-conscious. People tend to experience symptoms after a blowout meal. It is well understood that certain foods aggravate the condition, such as beans and broccoli. It might come as a surprise that eating pickles may help to alleviate symptoms.
According to Dr Oz, this is due to the bacteria in the gut.
As he explained, some bacteria is healthy and aids digestion, there are also bad types that can build up in the digestive tract.
“The wrong types of food can allow bad bacteria overgrowth in the colon, which makes the lining of your gut leaky and inflamed. This causes bloating and expands your waistline. New research shows that bad bacteria can increase belly fat as well,” explained Dr Oz.
Pickles can fight bad bacteria, he says.
This is due to pickles being packed with probiotics, which helps to prevent harmful build-up and reduces inflammation in the gut, he explains.
“Make sure you choose a low-sodium option. If you’re not a pickle person, you can get the same benefits from sauerkraut, kimchi or any fermented food,” he added.
Medical website LiveStrong emphasises the importance of opting for a low-sodium option, explaining that eating too many high-sodium pickles can actually trigger bloating and water retention.
It said: “Pickles – especially dill pickles – contain high amounts of sodium. Your body reacts to this high sodium intake by retaining water to maintain the osmotic balance of your body – the concentration of salt within your blood plasma and fluids.
“As a result, you might experience noticeable swelling, especially in your extremities, which might lead to some discomfort.”
According to the NHS, reducing air intake is another way to reduce tummy swelling.
The health site recommends not talking and eating at the same time, sitting down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), reducing the consumption of fizzy drinks, stop chewing gum and chew with the mouth closed to reduce air intake.
It is also important to identify any underlying health conditions that may be causing the bloating.
As the NHS reported, wheat sensitivities or simply trouble digesting wheat is increasingly common, with bread being one of the main offenders.
“Probably a third of patients in my allergy clinic complain of digestive symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain after eating bread,” says Isabel Skypala PhD, specialist allergy dietitian at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.
Skypala added: ”Some people find certain foods are simply hard to digest, and wheat appears to be one of those,” she explains.
If people have bloating or other minor symptoms after eating bread, Dr Skypala recommends trying an elimination diet.
This is where you completely cut out wheat from your diet for four weeks, then gradually bring it back in to see if symptoms reappear.
“When you bring wheat-based foods back in, I recommend trying Weetabix or pasta first for a few days before starting on bread. It’s better to start with wheat in a more pure form, as bread has so many other ingredients,” Dr Skypala said.
The NHS also recommends keeping a food diary to help people identify what foods might be causing their bloating.