It’s eight o’clock in the evening. You have had a very long day at work, and it seems like you are hungry enough to eat a whole cow. You grab the phone and order from your favorite take out place. After half an hour of waiting, the food is delivered to your doorstep. You pay for it, take a seat in front of your flat screen TV, and start munching on what seems like the most delicious food you have ever had. Thirty minutes later, you are stuffed and feel like a literal balloon which is about to pop. You wonder why you did this to yourself, and deal with the uncomfortable physical state you have put yourself into. You are bloated, and by no means is it comfortable.
What Causes Bloating?
Simply put, bloating occurs when there are too many solids, liquids, or gases in your belly. Generally, bloating happens after you have eaten too much food, but it can occur even if you are well within normal food intake levels. It can be affected by many different factors. The type of food you eat is also a big part of becoming bloated. Most of the time, you only feel a slight discomfort which is directly associated with bloating, but in rare cases it can be very painful. If you are experiencing frequent bloating that seems to occur no matter what changes you make to your diet, then we strongly suggest that you see your medical professional to eliminate the possibility of a persistent swelling of the abdomen due to other hidden problems or issue. If you are experiencing severe bloating which is accompanied by major pains in the abdomen, then you might be suffering from a serious medical condition. Seeing a doctor is strongly recommended.
In most situations, simply changing your diet or altering the amount of food that you eat can reduce and eliminated unwanted bloating. There are other circumstances which can influence your susceptibility to bloating. For example, you might be allergic to certain types of food which you consume. Simply eliminating or choosing an alternative to that specific food type can reduce your bloating completely.
There are a few common ways you can reduce bloating without visiting the doctor. However, keep in mind these methods are only designed to deal with normal or mild bloating which doesn’t cause severe pain. As we mentioned earlier, if you are experiencing severe pain or major chronic bloating then you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, we do have some suggestions and a few proven ways for you to reduce bloating. Take a look and see if any of these might be helpful for you.
Don’t Eat Too Much
This might seem obvious, but many people overlook it. Eating smaller portions can make a huge difference between feeling bloated or normal. If you notice that you are eating larger meals which make you feel very uncomfortable afterwards, then chances are you are eating too much at one time.
When you are eating your food with big bites, you end up filling your stomach faster and your stomach ends up working much longer to digest the big chunks of food. Choosing to eat more often and in smaller amounts ensures that your belly is able to keep up with the food and digest everything effectively and quickly. Furthermore, when you chew more often in smaller portions, you end up taking more time to eat your meals. This leads to you feeling full in an appropriated amount of time.
It is estimated that your brain’s ability to let you know that you are full is delayed by about fifteen minutes. This means that if you eat very quickly and in large amounts, your brain won’t recognize that you are full until it’s already too late. Taking your time and eating slowly while chewing frequently takes up those fifteen minutes your brain needs to recognize your food intake. This way, you are able to judge how full you are much better, resulting in less bloating and discomfort.
Cut Out Allergic Foods
Although some people are severely allergic to certain types of foods like peanuts, many people don’t even know that they are sensitive or allergic to many common foods. You might not even know that you are intolerant to certain foods. It is absolutely vital to determine your intolerances and eliminate these foods from your diet. Bloating is a very common side effect of being allergic to specific food groups.
Here are some common foods that you can be intolerant to and should consider ruling out of your diet.
This carbohydrate found in milk can be a source of much discomfort if consumed by those who are intolerant to it. Bloating and high amounts of gas are amongst the side-effects associated with consuming lactose filled foods by those who are sensitive to it.
Oddly enough, many people overlook this intolerance. Some people are sensitive to fructose, which is commonly found in sweet fruits and berries. If you experience bloating after eating fruits or berries, you might be amongst those few people.
Although super delicious and nutritious for most people, some are allergic to eggs. High gas and extreme bloating have been associated with egg allergies.
This isn’t a trend; there are many people out there who have developed intolerance to gluten. Gluten is found in grain based products, and it is a substance present in cereal grains which causes the dough of these grains to become elastic. Those who are sensitive to gluten can have issues with their digestive system, which can lead to increased bloating.
Our suggestion is to rule out these different types of foods and ingredients found in common foods by speaking with your doctor. They will be able to help you determine if you are, in fact, allergic to any of these foods. If you already know that you are allergic to one or more of these food types, then we urge you to be very careful with the food you buy at the grocery store or in restaurants. It might be the leading cause of your bloating.
Refrain from Swallowing Air
Believe it or not, extra air or gases in your belly can be a big reason for why you can become easily bloated. There are two different types of gasses found in our digestive system. One is released from the food we eat and the other is consumed along with the food that we eat. This means that the air we swallow when we eat and the gases which escape from our food while we digest them add to the bloating effect.
Partial blame falls onto the carbonated beverages and the fizzy drinks we consume, especially when we use straws. As we drink our favorite soda, all the carbonation found in it is eventually released in our belly after we have finished drinking. Over a short amount of time, all that extra carbon dioxide starts to fill up our belly and causes it to expand, resulting in bloating.
The other part of the equation is how fast we eat out food. Sometimes, when we are super hungry or in a hurry, we end up swallowing way too much air with our food. Since we are eating quickly and aren’t chewing the food properly into smaller pieces, the big chunks end up pushing large quantities of air into our stomach. This air is trapped in our belly and adds to the bloating effect, as well.
The best way to reduce all these extra gasses is by reducing the amount of carbonated beverages you consume and by slowing down when eating. Chewing your food properly reduces the amount of air which is pushed down into your stomach and reducing the amount of carbonated beverages your drink or drinking them slower will also reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in your belly.
Following these simple guidelines will reduce your chances of becoming bloated and feeling uncomfortable after eating.
Avoid Foods Which Cause Gas
There are a few foods out there which are high in fiber but also have the undesired effect of producing high amount of gas when being digested. The primary culprits for these gases are legumes and whole grains. We all know that beans and lentils cause extra gas, and this is something that you should keep in mind whenever you choose what to eat. Eating a few beans once in a while shouldn’t be a big problem, but if you consume foods which cause high gas back to back then you might end up dealing with extreme bloating as a result.
The problem is that every body is unique in its own way, so figuring out which of these gas producing foods has more or less of an effect on you might take time. Our suggestion is to keep a diary of the foods which you determine give you more gas and trying to avoid them whenever possible. Otherwise, just try to avoid beans and fatty foods altogether.
Reduce Specific Carbohydrates Intake
One very common digestive issue which affects more than fourteen percent of the population is irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS. This digestive disorder is often undiagnosed and at the given moment there is no known cause as to why it occurs.
Bloating and discomfort are just two of many symptoms associated with IBS, and about sixty percent of all IBS patients state that bloating is the worst side effect. There have been many studies done to figure out what causes IBS and how to treat it. Many of them point to carbohydrates called FODMAPs as the main reason for why symptoms and side effects of irritable bowel syndrome occur and become exorbitant.
Doctors and medical professional suggest choosing a diet which is low on FODMAPs. Lowered consumption of these carbohydrates has shown reduced symptoms of IBS. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. Some of the foods that fall into this category are:
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Wheat Products
- Ice cream
Keep in mind that these aren’t all the products which contain the specific carbohydrates that cause increased symptoms of IBS, and unfortunately there are many more foods which fall into this category.
Avoid Sugar Alcohol
Before we start talking about sugar alcohol, let us specify that sugar alcohol isn’t alcohol. Sugar alcohols come from plant products such as fruits and berries and are heavily chemically processed. They are usually used as a sugar-free sweetener in some foods and chewing gum. These chemically altered carbohydrates aren’t very well digested by our intestines. Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols has been known to cause digestive issues, and amongst these issues is bloating.
Xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are all sugar alcohols and they also belong to the FODMAP food group. Erythritol has been known to be more easily absorbed by our digestive system, but it can still cause bloating. Overall, we suggest cutting as many sugar alcohols out of your diet as possible.
Use Digestive Enzyme Supplements
The majority of bloating issues occur due to the difficulty of breaking down carbohydrates and other foods that we consume. Luckily, we have access to some over the counter supplements which can help with digestion.
Beano, Bean-zyme, and Gas-zyme 3x are some of these over the counter products. They contain an enzyme known as alpha-galactosidase which is extremely useful when used for breaking down indigestible carbohydrates. Use of these types of products reduces the amount of gas produced when we consume food, which results in less bloating and less discomfort.
Lactase is another enzyme which is responsible for proper digestion of whole milk. It breaks down lactose and sugar in milk. Generally, products which use this enzyme are developed for people who are sensitive to lactose or are lactose intolerant.
Reducing constipation can be difficult. The primary way to reduce constipation is through higher intake of soluble fiber. However, you also have to be careful with increasing your fiber intake in case you are sensitive to it. In some situations, in an attempt to decrease the effect of constipation you might end up doing more damage to your digestive system and end up forcing more bloating and discomfort. So you should be very careful with choosing the right type of constipation reducing supplements.
We suggest trying magnesium supplements. They have been known to help drastically with constipation and its side effects. Also, one of the best ways to avoid constipation is good old exercise. When you move, your body is more flexible and your digestive system is able to easily push through whatever needs to be pushed through, thus making constipation less likely.
Start Taking Probiotics
The majority of gas produced by our bodies is through the bacteria which is digesting the food we eat. Although each individual (and the contents of their gut) is different, some researchers have shown that increasing the good bacteria derived from probiotics can reduce both bloating and gas. Other studies showed different results which only pointed to gas reduction without affecting bloating at all.
In the end, probiotics may or may not help you, and because they affect each body differently, they might work more quickly or take a little bit more time to significantly reduce your bloating and gas. Either way, the only certain way to find out if probiotics work for you is to try them.
Also keep in mind that increasing good bacteria in your gut can have other positive results which you can benefit from. Even if probiotics don’t help your gas and bloating issues, you might see other improvements in your overall health.
Final Words About Stomach Bloating
Bloating, gas and digestive system discomforts aren’t an easy issue to deal with. But with the right mindset and proper knowledge, this situation can be dealt with. Before undertaking any of these possible bloating solutions, we strong suggest that you see your doctor. Some bloating and gas issues can’t be attributed to these simple dietary or sensitivity based reasons, the situations might be much worse than you anticipate. Although rare, frequent and extreme bloating can be a symptom of serious chronic and major conditions which have to be treated medically or even surgically. Seeing a medical professional can eliminate the possibility of having one of these serious conditions.
Even if you are fully aware of the sensitivities and conditions that might be contributing to your bloating problems, we still suggest that you see your doctor before deciding to change your diet or starting to take special supplements to alleviate gas and bloating. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
We hope that this article gave you enough information and knowledge to be able to make the best decisions possible when dealing with excessive bloating. Just remember that proper diet and exercise are almost always the key to a healthy gut!