What causes bloating?
Mostly overeating, eating foods which do not agree with you thus producing excess gas, and constipation. Other causes include menstruation, food allergy/food intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.
Suffering from belly bloat is a common but annoying disorder. You feel uncomfortable, lethargic, unmotivated, embarrassed because of your bulging belly and the rumble it makes, and are sometimes in pain.
Let us look at how to stop bloating and the basic lifestyle changes you can implement which are especially effective if you feel bloated after eating.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals for better health and a bloat-free waistline.
Change your eating habits
Eating quickly increases pressure on your stomach and produces more gas. Sit down, chew your food well, and eat your meals in a leisurely manner, giving the food plenty of time to digest.
Drinking tea or coffee on the run is equally bad with excess air accompanying each sip and gulp. Savor your beverages by drinking them slowly.
Limit sugar substitutes
Sodas, sweets and chewing gum contain huge quantities of artificial sweeteners, especially sorbitol and xylitol which many people find difficult to digest, resulting in bloating, gas and diarrhea. Rather have real sugar than substitutes.
Cut out sodas
The bubbles in fizzy drinks cause bloating. Also refrain from drinking excessively hot or cold beverages.
Stop eating junk and processed food
Fried, oily food and high salt content cause bloating.
Abstain from carbohydrates at night
Bread and pasta cause you to retain water. Avoid eating them at night to be puff-free the next morning.
Early morning water and lemon juice
Start your day by drinking a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon; it speeds up waste elimination and removes toxins.
Eat potassium rich foods
Bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes, nuts, asparagus and fresh chopped parsley regulate the fluid balance in your body and stop bloating.
If you suffer from constipation, eating sufficient fruit, vegetables and high fiber, such as oatmeal, will improve your digestion and remedy your bloating problem.
Water flushes out your system and aids digestion. Instead of alcohol, caffeine and colas, drink plain water and natural teas.
Limit excess air
Do not eat and talk at the same time, drink out of a straw, chew gum nor smoke because the surplus air accompanying these activities causes you to bloat.
Eat foods easily digested by your body
Bland foods, such as fish, chicken, soya based foods, yogurt and rice do not tax your digestive system.
Limit gas producing foods
Notice which raw vegetables cause you to bloat, then either boil them or do not eat them at all. The cellulose in cabbage, peas and beans is hard to digest and may cause you to puff up.
Other common gas producing foods are cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, lentils, prunes and garlic.
Bloating, together with water weight gain and mood swings, are associated with premenstrual tension. Ensure you get 1200 milligrams calcium and 200 to 400 milligrams magnesium daily. Both nutrients help relieve PMS symptoms, including bloating. If you wish, take Midol which contains a mild diuretic.
Add turmeric, coriander, caraway and cumin when cooking.
Naturists claim teas made of ginger, savory from the mint family, lime from a linden tree, peppermint, rosemary, and caraway are effective for bloating relief.
They may be right because ginger tea helps with stomach upsets and peppermint oil in tea or warm water after a big meal aids digestion.
Walking for 15 to 20 minutes a day moves food through your digestive tract, thereby reducing bloating and combating constipation. Other benefits include less severe menstrual cramps, eliminating toxins by perspiring, and shedding body fat.
Massaging your abdomen helps evacuate gas and reduces bloating. Start by pressing your fingers near your right hip, slide up towards the ribs, move across and down in a circular motion.
Supplements and home remedies
Taking a digestive enzyme with each meal provides relief, especially when bloating results from a problem with your digestive tract, such as diverticulosis. Obtain digestive enzymes with the active ingredients lipase, protease and amylase, from any health store. Restaurant owners should actually hand out digestive enzymes instead of after-dinner mints to all patrons who selected anything other than raw foods from their menus.
Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ which help keep you regular and bloat-free. Your intestinal tract has loads of bacteria, some beneficial, some harmful, which play an important role in the functioning of your digestive and immune systems.
Probiotics encourage the growth and replenishment of healthy microflora. They crowd out the bad bacteria which cause disease, yeasts and parasites in your intestines, they help digest and absorb your food, eliminate wastes and toxins by restoring normal and regular bowel function, and maintain a healthy intestinal function.
Ideally 85% of your bacteria should be friendly with 15% unfriendly. Probiotic supplements can be found in capsule, powder or liquid form, or in foods such as kefir and yogurt.
If you do not consume enough fruit and vegetables, take nutritional supplements that contain dietary fibers especially during the holidays or when celebrating to better handle the foods that cause you to swell up.
Apple cider vinegar helps ease digestive symptoms and gets rid of bloating and gas pain.
Lactobacillus supplements also help maintain intestinal health.
Bismuth, the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, is an element on the periodic table. 100% natural, taken before or directly after a meal reduces swelling caused by food allergies and neutralizes the odor of your flatulence.
If you take antibiotics, which destroy your friendly bacteria, take B complex vitamins too.
Some oral contraceptive pills cause your stomach to distend, in which case ask your physician to prescribe a different one.
Once you incorporate these lifestyle changes, they should cure you or at least relieve bloating.
If your condition persists, let us look at what else it might be and what you can do about it.
If you bloat after eating certain foods, keep a food journal where you write down everything you eat, together with any symptoms which appear. Rotate foods until you identify which foods trigger bloating and avoid them.
Although you may not test positive for food allergies, you may have a food intolerance. Common culprits include yeast, wheat, where the gluten causes excess gas to be produced, and milk.
This means your body does not produce the enzyme lactase and your digestive system cannot digest the lactose in dairy foods. It then ferments and forms gases which overstretch your bowel.
How do you know if you are lactose intolerant? Drink a glass of milk. If you experience gas, bloating or diarrhea, avoid dairy products or drink lactose free milk.
Yogurt’s active bacteria cultures produce lactase, so if you want to eat cheese without bloating afterwards, add a bowl of yogurt to your morning ritual.
Irritable bowel syndrome
IBS, characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, may be the cause of your bloating.
Eat more fiber and give up coffee, cigarettes and spicy foods which irritate your colon.
Some people swear by going on a detoxification diet two or three times a year to give your body a chance to cleanse itself of accumulated toxins.
Diabetics often have problems with bloating and diarrhea, especially if they take large doses of metformin or glucophage.
Diabetics with nerve damage in their stomach may find food collects but does not empty properly, resulting in excessive belching. Medication eases this problem.
Although over-the-counter products offer quick relief by suppressing the symptoms, the benefits will be short-lived because they do not eliminate the cause.
Common effective medications such as Gas-X, Beano, Phazyme and Flatulex, when taken with each meal, help break up gas pockets in the stomach, thereby relieving bloating and gas pain.
The pain is not actually caused by your swollen stomach but by abdominal contractions not synchronizing properly. When your intestinal wall pulls in different directions it feels like stomach cramps.
Most bloating medication contain enzymes like alpha-galactosidase which help digest the sugars in carbohydrates, the main culprit of your indigestion problems.
Pink Pepto-Bismol type products have a salicylate ingredient which is like aspirin. It will alleviate some of your abdominal pain but if it disagrees with you, try Gas-X or Phazyme which contain simethicone.
Consider using this over-the-counter supplement. When taken with meals, it prevents or at least reduces the amount of gas produced.
It sometimes causes irregular looking stools and constipation so do not be alarmed, and in case it affects the absorption of prescription medicine, take it an hour or two after any scheduled medication.
Tips and warning
Bloating and gas pain should dissipate quite quickly. If not, if it becomes more than a slight annoyance, or if accompanied by bloody or tarry stools, fever, night sweats or weight loss, consult your doctor.
He might suggest a colonoscopy to help him diagnose your problem. Endure it because your colon plays a major role in your life and until it is sorted out, you will feel unwell. Once he determines the medical cause, he will treat and cure you of your suffering.
Bloating is also one of the primary symptoms of ovarian cancer, a ‘silent’ disease difficult to detect early.
Although the remote possibility exists of it being something serious, bloating is much more likely to be a minor inconvenience which you can get rid of fast by making simple lifestyle changes.