Most people experience a bloated stomach every now and then, usually after eating a big meal or binging on stodgy food. But bloating can also be caused by consuming much more simple foods and drinks, which contain properties that can be hard for the digestive system to break down. When the digestive system struggles to break a particular food down, it can lead to excess gas and trapped wind, which in turn causes bloating. One additive, which might seem like a simple addition to your tea, but could actually be the cause of your bloated belly, is sweetener.
Sweetener can be divided into two categories: artificial and natural, both of which can cause bloating.
Artificial sweetener, like sorbitol, is added to foods and drinks for extra sweetness, but the human body is unable to digest it.
As it can’t be digested, artificial sweetener passes through the intestines and ferments instead. This can cause excess gas, bloating, cramps, stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Natural sweetener, like fructose, is found naturally in some foods and drinks, but is also added to certain products for extra sweetness.
Fructose is not digested by the body but absorbed instead, and some people are unable to tolerate too much of it.
This is called ‘fructose malabsorption’ and occurs when cells on the surface of the intestines aren’t able to break fructose down properly, according to medical website Healthline.
Fructose malabsorption has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome – a common cause of bloating.
Aside from adding sweetener to your cup of tea, it can be found in soft drinks, desserts, ready meals, cakes, chewing gum and even toothpaste.
So if you regularly feel bloated and don’t know why, it could be down to something as simple as the sweetener you add to your tea.
“To avoid bloating, be aware of these sweeteners in the foods you eat and limit the amount you consume,” warned medical website webmd.
Another surprising type of food which can cause stomach bloating is cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts.
The reason why these vegetables cause bloating is because they are contain a carbohydrate called raffinose, which the human body cannot break down fully.
The human body lacks the enzymes needed to break down raffinose, so, like artificial sweetener, it passes through the stomach and small intestine undigested.
When these vegetables enter the large intestine, bacteria attempt to break them down through fermentation.
This causes gas and flatulence, leading to that uncomfortable bloated feeling.
If you choose to cut down on cruciferous vegetables to relieve a bloated tummy, make sure you still get your five-a-day from other vegetables and fruits.