10 Foods That Cause Bloating
By Mark Macdonald, ZEN Brand Ambassador & New York Times Best Selling Author
We hear about foods we should avoid, but rarely do we actually know why. The reasons you cut something permanently or temporarily from your nutrition plan do matter.
Many foods cause your body to retain water and trigger inflammation. Eating these types of foods will hinder your ability to lose weight, burn fat and achieve your health goals.
Take your food IQ to the next level by reading why you should cut these 10 foods from your 7-Day ZEN Project 8® Detox Phase. (Click here to learn more about detox.)
Top 10 Foods That Cause Bloating
Gluten is a hot topic and is recognized as one of the biggest bloating and inflammatory ingredients in foods. Gluten is a complex protein that gives bread its elasticity and is extremely hard for your body to digest. It’s typically found in bread products, pastas and cereals. The difficulty with digestion leads to inflammation and bloating. Look for gluten-free labels.
2. Soy Protein
Soybeans contain organic compounds called isoflavones. These compounds trigger your body to produce the hormone estrogen, and estrogen causes your body to store fat and bloat. Estrogen is an important hormone in women and men (that’s right — men have a little estrogen too!). The challenge with estrogen is that when your body produces too much, it can enter estrogen overload.
3. Cheese & Yogurt
This might be a tough one, as cheese and yogurt are easy grab n’ go proteins and they taste great. But both of these introduce challenges. First, they are loaded with lactose (a sugar found in dairy). To efficiently digest lactose, your body produces an enzyme called lactase. When you don’t have enough lactase, lactose can’t be fully digested, causing bloating and gas. Second, some people have a slight allergy to milk protein. The result can be excess mucus, which leads to head and chest congestion as well as inflammation. You might be thinking, where will I get my calcium? Eat green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens, or green vegetables like broccoli and asparagus. They are loaded with calcium and don’t cause bloating.
4. Refined Sugar
We often hear, “Avoid sugar.” That statement doesn’t make much sense since all carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables and grains, with fiber being the only exception) are metabolized into sugar. What you actually need to watch for is refined sugar, which is the added sugar that’s found in candy, soda and most processed foods. Refined sugars include basically any sugar that’s not naturally occurring in the food. These types of sugars spike your blood sugar, which triggers fat storage and water retention.
5. Sugar-Free Sweeteners
Ever have gas when chewing sugar-free gum? It happens to most of us, and the culprit is the sugar-free sweetener in the gum. The most used sugar-free sweeteners include aspartame, saccharine, sorbitol, xylitol and sucralose. These are “fake” sugars that are formed with a double sugar molecule that your body can’t digest. Since this molecule can’t be digested, the result is gas and bloating. There is plenty of research that these once-touted calorie savers may actually be worse for your body than refined sugar. The great news is there is already a natural and healthy sweetener on the market called stevia, which can be digested by your body.
I remember watching my mom have some popcorn with her salt — seriously! And the next day she would share how puffy she felt. Adding salt to your food or eating processed food (which is loaded with salt) will cause massive bloating. Every milligram of sodium attracts water, causing your body to retain water. The more salt you eat, the more bloating you’ll experience. Focus on eating clean foods that have a small and natural amount of salt. If you’re a salt lover like my mom, no need to panic, just make sure to moderately use salt. Your two best salt choices are sea salt and pink Himalayan salt, as both are natural, unprocessed and help minimize the bloating effects of regular table salt. Just remember to use them moderately.
7. Soda Pop (Regular & Diet)
I know this isn’t a shocker, as we’re told by almost everyone to cut soda. There’s a good reason to do this. All types of soda are full of chemicals, carbonation (which causes gas in your intestines) and either refined sugar (regular soda) or sugar-free sweeteners (diet soda). I’ve learned that people are attached to their soda, so start by cutting your soda consumption in half each week, and eventually you’ll be soda free! As you do this, you won’t crave soda anymore and you’ll be less bloated. Double win!
Now you might be thinking, I thought alcohol dehydrates me, so how can it bloat me? You’re right that it dehydrates you. When your body feels it doesn’t have enough water, it shifts into water-retention mode to protect itself, primarily in terms of blood flow. In addition, alcohol disrupts your digestion by making your body metabolize the alcohol first (alcohol calories can’t be used for energy) before your food is digested. Because of this digestion delay, there is a greater chance for your food to be stored as fat. Finally, alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle, and lower quality of sleep equals more stress, which equals more bloating. Of course, everything in moderation is fine — a glass of wine, an occasional beer or other alcoholic beverage.
9. Coffee and Caffeinated Tea
Many of us love coffee and caffeinated tea — I know I do! Detoxing from coffee will help get your adrenal gland (your battery) cleaned up and balance out your cortisol levels. The caffeine in coffee and tea triggers an over-release of adrenaline from your adrenal gland, which is then countered with a release of your stress hormone cortisol (too much cortisol in your body leads to unwanted belly fat). Most coffee and caffeinated tea drinkers have trained their bodies to rely on that caffeine rush — basically your body has become addicted to the caffeine.
This causes you to use caffeine to mask some existing sleep deprivation and fatigue. Cutting caffeine will remove the fake energy mask and get your body back in balance. You might be thinking, what about decaffeinated coffee? Coffee is very acidic, so even decaf coffee is something to detox from. However, the good news is that one to two cups a day of caffeine-free tea is just fine. Simply choose a good herbal tea, and bottoms up!
One Important Note: Caffeine withdrawal can cause throbbing headaches. When you cut caffeine, if you notice that your energy drops too low and you’re experiencing headaches, add one cup of caffeinated coffee or tea each day in the morning.
10. Grains & Calorie-Dense Vegetables
High-quality grains like quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice and millet are amazing carbohydrates, as are calorie-dense vegetables like beans, sweet potatoes and yams. They are all fiber-rich complex carbohydrates that slow down digestion and help keep blood sugar levels balanced. All these great benefits are exactly why they can cause bloating. You heard me right — even though they are great carbs, they are also heavier and more calorie-dense carbohydrates, which can cause some additional water retention (since carbs attract water molecules just like sodium does). Detoxing your body is all about eating a diet as light and rich in nutrients and as easy to digest as possible. This is why your best carbohydrate choices for a 7-day detox are fruits and low-calorie vegetables. After seven days, you’ll be loving your grains and calorie-dense vegetables once again.
Your food IQ has been taken to the next level! Now it’s time to get your complete detox on!
Plus, part of detoxing is having a clean protein shake. Check out this blog to find your checklist for choosing a protein shake and WHY we made ZEN Fuze™.