Have you ever experienced that feeling of having an inflated balloon in your tummy? That's abdominal bloating, and if you are getting it consistently after every meal, it is time to identify the culprits. Once we do that, we'll identify the 5 best foods to get a flat belly!

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Worst foods for bloating:

1. Cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage contain a carbohydrate called raffinose. Many people lack the enzyme needed to digest this complex sugar, so instead the bacteria in your large intestine tries to break it down, but in the process creates gas.

To reduce this problem, avoid over-indulging on greens or try steaming them. Steaming will soften the fibers and shrink the vegetables causing them to take less space in your intestines.

2. Legumes. Beans, peas and lentils are pretty well-known bloaters. Although filled with protein, legumes contain a complex sugar called oligosaccharide, which is indigestible by the human body. So it makes it all the way to the large intestine, still as a large molecule, which causes your stomach to distend.

The best way to avoid this problem is to combine legumes with other easily digestible whole grains. Also, by eating them more regularly your body will get used to them and not cause as much bloating.

3. Dairy. If a glass of milk or slices of cheese are causing you to bloat, chances are you might not have the proper enzyme – lactase — to digest lactose, a sugar found in diary. Because lactose remains undigested in the small intestine, it causes stomach distention and bloating once it reaches the large intestine.

If diary triggers bloating in your system, look for lactose free or non diary options.

4. Apples. Apples are highly nutritious, but they are not very easy to digest. When the sugars and peels remain undigested, the bacteria feeds on it, fermenting the material in the process, which causes gases like carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen to build up. This causes bloating and gas.

Apples are too good to be eliminated from your diet. Instead, eat them slowly and separately from your main meals.

5. High sodium. Salt attracts water. Lots of salt attracts lots of water causing water retention. If you are regularly eating high sodium foods, it will balloon you up because your body holds on to fluids instead of eliminating them.

The easiest way to avoid getting bloated by high sodium is to stay away from packaged and processed foods. If you do indulge in a salty meal, make sure to drink plenty of water.

5 Foods to get a flat belly:

1. Cucumber. Cucumber is high in a flavonoid —Quercetin — along with silica, vitamin C and caffeic acid, all of which works together to reduce inflammation and prevent water retention.

2. Banana. Bloating caused by high sodium content can be avoided by indulging in potassium rich fruits and nuts like bananas, avocado and pistachios. Potassium suppresses water retention which can otherwise cause bloating.

3. Papaya. An enzyme in papaya, called papain, has been shown to aid digestion by helping breaking down protein in your intestines. It also has fiber that keeps your digestive system running smooth.

4. Fennel seeds. Chewing a few fennel seeds right after your meal will freshen up your breathe and stimulate healthy digestion. They are rich in nutritious volatile oils, along with compounds like fenchone, anethole and estragole, all of which help eliminate bloating.

5. Ginger. Ginger is a powerful and effective carminative that helps relieve gas, cramps and bloating. It also improves blood circulation which further helps relieve bloating.

Image via Thinkstock

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About the author

Ingrid is a holistic health coach, personal trainer, fitness motivator, and wellness author. After finding the key to losing 50 pounds in 90 days, she wants to share how she did it with her free course 9 Simple Secrets I Used to Melt Away 50 Pounds

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