How often do you recall having a puffed belly while trying your best to squeeze into an old pair of jeans? Believe it or not, we have all been there!
But wait, is it because you are gaining some pounds or because you got a bloated belly?
According to research, 10–15% of the average US population experience bloating.
Today, we’ll take a look at what bloating is, what causes it, how to get rid of it with valuable tips that will make your life bloat-free.
What Is Stomach Bloating?
Stomach bloating, also renowned as abdominal bloating, is characterized as:
A condition where your belly feels tight, swollen, or full to an uncomfortable degree.
Bloating is caused by the fermentation of undigested food, which causes the production of gases in your stomach. This gas is then either passed out of your body by belching, burping, or flatulence.
What Causes Stomach Bloating?
Let’s take a look at some factors that usually become the reason for stomach bloating:
- Constipation – One of the most common causes of bloating. But sometimes, people don’t even know they’re constipated. The longer your stool sits in your colon, the harder it will be to open your bowel and expel the gas. And ultimately, you’re going to get gassier and feel a lot more bloated.
- Dairy products – Products like milk and ice cream can cause belly pain and bloating, too. This happens when your body can’t digest dairy sugar called lactose. It’s not usually that serious, but it’s good to avoid dairy products or take lactose pills after consulting your healthcare provider.
- Eating too much or too fast – Your stomach, when empty, is only about the size of your fist. It can stretch to accommodate a specific amount of food. Consuming food above and beyond that limit can make you feel bloated.
- Swallowing too much air – Drinking liquids through a straw, constantly chewing gum, or even sucking on hard candy will make you swallow air, leading to bloating.
- Too much fiber – The right intake of fiber through the consumption of plant-based foods is considered an essential fuel for the digestive system. But too much fiber causes bloating. Try to cut down on high fiber foods if you constantly feel bloated.
- Foods high in raffinose sugar – Raffinose sugar is a complex carbohydrate that can be difficult on your digestive tract. Your body lacks the enzymes required for its breakdown that causes this complex carb to pass undigested into your intestines. There, it gets fermented and releases gases that cause bloating.
Raffinose-rich foods include legumes (especially beans), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and whole grains. All of these foods are great for you, but you might consider lowering their amount if you are constantly bloated.
Takeaway #1: Constipation, lactose intolerance caused by dairy consumption, eating too much or too fat, swallowing air, high fiber intake, and raffinose-rich foods can lead to bloating.
Bloating 101: The Process of How and Why You Get Bloated
Bloating is typically linked to certain eating habits, foods, or beverages that cause the gasses to build up in your digestive system. Among those gases are:
- Carbon dioxide
- Methane or sulfur (sometimes)
A careful balance of good and bad bacteria contributes to a healthy digestive system. Good bacteria help eradicate harmful microbes, waste products, and toxins. So, the imbalance between these bacteria can be a major cause of bloating.
The Right Fuel for the Digestive System
What will happen if you put water in your car instead of petrol?
Will it run? Or even start?
Not at all!
The same thing goes for your body. Putting the wrong fuel in your body can lead to disruptions. The point that holds actual importance here is how critical the digestive system for our body is.
Your digestive system uses food and water and then supplies energy to your entire body. If your digestive system malfunctions, your body will not receive the resources to function proficiently. You will be sluggish and unable to complete your daily tasks.
What are the right foods that make the digestive system function properly?
The answer is prebiotics and probiotics, which are the food source for the tiny, friendly bacteria residing in your gut.
Prebiotics boost your overall immune health. They also stimulate digestion and reduce the symptoms of numerous digestive disorders. One common type of prebiotic is fiber – the part of vegetable or fruit our bodies cannot break down.
The good sources of prebiotics include:
- Whole grains
- Seeds and nuts: chia seeds, pistachio, fennel seeds
- Vegetables: spinach, cucumber, bell peppers, lettuce
- Fruits: banana, blueberries, apple
If, for instance, you don’t always have that colorful, fiber-rich food plate every day, you can use fiber supplements as an alternative. Easy to use, quick results, and oh-so-tasty! (Not all of them, though… but have you tried ColonBroom’s strawberry-flavored smoothie?)
Probiotics promote a healthy equilibrium of gut bacteria and are linked to plenty of health benefits. From helping your body digest food to keeping the bad bacteria in control – all come under the advantages of probiotics.
The good sources of probiotics are:
- Fermented pickles
- Dark chocolate
- Cottage cheese
Water is another cure for various digestive disorders, such as diarrhea, heartburn, or constipation:
- Diarrhea results in frequent loss of fluids from the body, leading to electrolyte imbalance. So, water intake can help maintain the fluid balance and replenish all the lost nutrients.
- Heartburn or indigestion can be eased by drinking a glass of water as it helps alleviate the acidity of stomach fluids. Bloating is also a symptom of indigestion.
- Constipation is considered a state where the body doesn’t get enough fluids, leaving the food byproduct hard and difficult to evacuate. Water will moisturize the foods and nourish your intestines while preventing bloating.
Takeaway #2: Probiotics, prebiotics, and water are essential to reduce stomach bloating.
Natural Remedies to Reduce a Bloated Belly
Here are some natural ways to get rid of a bloated belly:
- Sit down for your meal – Finally getting home after a long hectic day? We know you might feel starving. But try to take your time chewing your bites, so your stomach doesn’t have to work too hard.
- Eat slowly – Eating quickly can result in the intake of excess air that might make you feel bloated or gaseous. Sit down and relax; slow down the movement of chewing food to get the opposite results!
- Stay hydrated – There is a misconception that water intake might worsen bloating, but that’s not correct! Drinking enough water will moisturize the intestines and nourish your skin and internal organs.
- Skip air-ingesting habits – Chewing gum or drinking with straws is a major cause of bloating. When you chew or suck on a straw, it draws air into your stomach.
- Cut off the dairy – The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that about 68% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance. So yes, it is a lot more common than you think! Watch out for symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, or gas within a few hours of consuming dairy products.
- Keep a balanced diet – Maintaining a healthy diet can ultimately lessen your chance of getting bloated. So, keep eating more prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods, fewer carbs and sugar, and drink as much water as you can.
- Soak lentils and legumes – Lentils and legumes are high in nutrients and indigestible fiber. Rinsing and soaking them before cooking can make them easier to digest.
- Restrict onions and garlic – Both of these foods are rich in fructans, a type of soluble fiber that leads to bloating. Try to reduce how much you eat them.
- Drink fennel water – Boil 1 cup of water and add half a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Let it simmer, and then turn off the heat. You can also add ginger to this water for additional antioxidant benefits. Fennel seeds are a great natural remedy to reduce bloating and aid in digestion.
Takeaway #3: Healthy habits like eating slowly, staying hydrated, or drinking fennel water can help you tackle bloating.
Bonus Tip: Get Moving!
Physical activity can significantly help by letting go of the trapped gas and upregulating the digestive system. Make an effort to go for a brief 10-minute walk after eating and feel the benefits!