Stomach bloating tends to become the condition of the century. Want to get rid of it for good? Here’s how bloating occurs and how you can reduce it.
How Bloating Occurs
Stomach bloating occurs when the digestive tract is filled with air or gas. In general, bloating is associated with a feeling of fullness, tightness or swelling in the abdomen. Your abdomen may also be hard and painful, as most of the times bloating comes along with:
- Excessive gas (flatulence);
- Frequent belching or burping;
- Stomach rumbling or gurgles.
Often bloating interferes with your ability to work and take part in recreational or social activities. Experts from the University of North Carolina say that people, who experience frequent bloating, take sick leave more often, seek medical care, and take medications more often compared with other people. Belly bloat is common across all age groups.
Among the common causes for bloating are:
Gas and air
gas occurs usually after eating or drinking too fast. Along with food or fluid we tend to swallow air, which leads to gas buildup in the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, when undigested food is broken down gas is released in the stomach during the digestive process.
Other causes include smoking, wearing loose dentures, chewing gum, sipping drinks through a straw, downing carbonated drinks , sucking on hard candy.
Did you know that some people tend to swallow more air when they are stressed or anxious? If this sounds like you, try to keep your anxiety at bay through breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. All these easy tips help reduce gas and bloating, experts say.
Unfortunately gassiness, bloating and abdominal discomfort aren’t limited to the occasional holiday feast. Statistics show that 1 in 10 Americans experience stomach bloating frequently, even after a not so large meal. In some cases this symptom can become really severe and cause distention or visible swelling of the abdomen (we’re all familiar with the annoying several months pregnant-like look and feeling).
In non-clinical cases where bloating is a soaring symptom and you need to seek medical advice, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lactose or gluten intolerance, acid reflux, intestinal obstruction, dyspepsia (indigestion), viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu), celiac diseases, infection with H. pylori bacteria, colic and crying (in infants), ovarian cancer, E.coli infection, hernia, gallstones, urinary tract infection (UTI), appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, colitis, Chron’s disease, peritonitis, giardiasis, hookworm infection, amebiasis, stomach cancer, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, or Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stomach bloat is tied to what you eat and drink. To avoid it, the following lifestyle changes may help keep your tummy flat and eliminate the discomfort.
If you’re one of the ‘clean-plate’ league goal getters, maybe it’s high time you resigned. Overeating is one of the major culprits for belly bloat. Use smaller plates and eat less but more often. That should ease your pain!
Feasting on fatty foods contributes to an uncomfortable feeling of fullness. Taking longer to digest than protein or carbs, fat keeps the stomach full longer. To avoid bloating, cut down fat from your daily diet.
Eating fast and not chewing your food properly makes you prone to bloating after eating. Wondering how to prevent it? Take your time and chew every bite properly. Did you know that satiety takes up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and suppress appetite? Numerous weight loss experts and dietitians believe that eating slowly prevents overeating.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
We all love sodas and other carbonated beverages. All these unfortunately are high in carbon dioxide, which is one of the major culprits for puffiness. If you crave for a tasty drink, try some of the teatox recipes. Alternatively, you can always try a lemon –cucumber detox water with some honey and two leaves of fresh peppermint. It’s the perfect refreshment for hot summer afternoons!
Stay Away From Bloat-Inducing Foods
Legumes such as lentils, beans, peas that are rich indigestible sugars known as oligosaccharides are bloat-causing. Similarly, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables cause gas and bloating, especially if they are eaten raw. To counteract their gassy effect, steam or sauté them.
Although fiber and whole grains are highly recommended for a healthy diet, if you don’t usually follow a fiber-rich meal plan it’s best you fiber up your diet gradually. You can start mixing your yogurt with blueberries in the morning, as a delicious and nutritious tweak to your usual breakfast.
Rice and potatoes can also cause bloating especially if they’re re-heated. When you cook these at home, don’t make more than a portion and if you eat out, make sure the rice or potato dish you’re having is fresh.
Sweetened products are your foes if you suffer from bloating. The mainly used sweetener in all carbonated drinks and ‘sugar-free’ products is sorbitol, which is an artificial compound that cannot be digested. Similarly, fructose added to sodas and other products, although natural it still causes problems to many people. To avoid the bloat, try to reduce the amount of sweetened products you consume.
If you’re lactose intolerant it’s best you stay away from the dairy section in the supermarket. Lactose (milk sugar) can cause intestinal distress and stimulate gas buildup in the stomach and bloating. Opt for lactose-free versions of yogurt, soy milk or tofu instead of cheese.
Physical activity stimulate the elimination of toxins through sweat and enhance bowel movement and help jump-start metabolism, experts say. Find a workout routine that you like and get started! Only 30 minutes of daily exercising will work miracles on your body and help you de-bloat.
Alternatively, you can take a walk after a rich meal to stimulate your digestion, or if your live within walking distance from your workplace, leave about 15-20 minutes earlier every morning and walk to work rather than drive or take the subway.
Now you know it all! Eat healthy, get off that couch and… de-bloat!