Bloating can really put a sour note on your day. You don't feel good, your clothes don't fit right and the side effects can be a little embarrassing. However, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort you feel while bloated. First, it's important to understand where bloating stems from so you can alter your habits accordingly. If bloating still occurs, there are some easy tips and tricks you can follow in order to reduce your symptoms. Read this article to find out more about why you might feel bloated and how to reduce your bloating quickly and effectively.
Common Causes of Bloating
Bloating can be caused by a wide variety of factors. In some cases, it's a medical condition or emotional state that you can't help. In other situations, it could be from the foods you're eating. Here's a list of the top causes of bloating to help you understand where this condition stems from:
- Chronic conditions: Celiac disease, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome are all chronic conditions with which bloating is a common side effect. With irritable bowel syndrome, the bloating may be a reaction to certain foods or changes in bowel function. Bloating with celiac disease and lactose intolerance is related to the inability to digest or absorb certain foods or ingredients.
- Acute conditions: Problems in the gastrointestinal area, like an infection or blockage, may also lead to bloating.
- Premenstrual syndrome: Many women experience bloating during PMS due to increased water retention.
- Smoking: The increased air intake that occurs while smoking cigarettes can lead to bloating.
- Stress: Hormonal changes due to stress may cause some bloating. Also, stress can sometimes lead to poor digestion which can also lead to bloating.
- Poor food choices: Some foods are more likely to lead to gas and bloating. Eating healthy is not a sure-fire fix since even some healthy foods can cause bloating.
Tips for Reducing Bloating
1. Avoid belly-bloating foods. You should either avoid these foods altogether or eat them in limited amounts:
- Excess carbohydrates: Eating too many carbs can lead to unnecessary water retention, which leads to bloating.
- Raw veggies: Many veggies are known to cause gas when eaten raw, especially cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, onions and Brussels sprouts. Simply cook your veggies instead - the nutritional value is equal to that of raw veggies.
- Spicy foods: The spicier a meal is, the more stomach acid it will trigger, which leads to bloating and irritation.
- Fatty foods: Foods with a lot of fats, especially fried foods, cause bloating because they are digested very slowly. Pick foods with monounsaturated fatty acids instead, like walnuts, sunflower seeds and avocados.
- Salt: Avoid foods with too much salt, including processed foods, whenever possible. The sodium attracts water, which causes the body to retain fluids.
- Carbonated drinks: The air bubbles in caffeinated drinks like soda end up in your belly.
- Acidic drinks: Fruit juice, coffee and alcohol each have a high acid content which can cause swelling in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Chewing gum: You swallow air as you chew gum, which causes bloating.
2. Eat bloat-busting foods instead. These are the top dietary changes you should make in order to prevent bloating:
- Fiber: Your digestive system will be much more efficient with enough fiber in your diet, which in turn decreases the likelihood of bloating. High-fiber foods include bran cereals, blueberries, peas and lentils.
- Carminative herbs: Herbs like peppermint, chamomile, fennel and ginger are all great for reducing gas. You can eat foods with these ingredients or drink them as a tea.
- Water: Despite the fact that bloating is often due to water retention, drinking more water helps to flush out the system and reduce bloating.
3. Change your habits. There are a few simple changes you can make to your daily routine to prevent bloating before it happens:
- Exercise more: Even just a short, brisk walk each day can reduce bloating because the activity helps the digestive tract process gas more quickly.
- Eat slowly: When you eat too quickly or while talking, you're more likely to take in excess air, which can turn into a bloated belly. Slow down while you eat and always close your mouth while chewing.
- Don't use straws: Drinking with a straw can also cause excess air intake and bloating.
- Check your meds: Some prescriptions and supplements contain carbonate or bicarbonate, both of which can cause bloating. Ask your doctor about these side effects and how to prevent them.
- Belch more: Though it may seem a little crass, a few stealthy burps can help get rid of excess gas from your stomach.
4. Over-the-Counter Remedies for Bloating
Even with these lifestyle and dietary changes, you may still experience bloating once in a while. Here are some basic over-the-counter options for relieving bloating:
Finally, if your bloating is severe or chronic, you should see a doctor as this could be a sign of a more serious condition.