Bloating is a very common condition that most people experience at some point. When you’re bloated, your stomach feels tight, full, and sometimes painful.
Often, we feel bloated after a large meal, and the discomfort is only short-term. Other times, bloating is related to an underlying health condition, and can cause severe symptoms that negatively affect quality of life.
Keep reading to find out more about bloating, its common causes, and how you can prevent it.
Bloating refers to an excess of gas in the gut. Gasses such as oxygen, CO2, methane, and nitrogen enter the gut as you swallow air, and through the fermentation of foods in your large intestine.
A number of factors can cause increased gas in the gut.
In some cases, bloating is caused by severe medical issues like infection, bowel obstruction, liver disease, or cancer. If you are experiencing chronic and painful bloating, it is important to identify the underlying cause with a medical expert.
Bloating treatment typically begins with changing your diet. Limiting foods that trigger bloating is essential. Certain foods contain high amounts of non- or poorly digestible compounds that lead to increased gas. These foods include:
Lifestyle changes to prevent bloating also include eating foods that support regular bowels and prevent constipation. To reduce constipation, increase fiber consumption. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are all high in fiber and will help to keep things moving.
As well, be sure to drink adequate fluids. This looks like about 2 liters of water a day.
It should be noted that adding fiber to your diet too quickly may worsen constipation at first, so add it gradually.
It’s also important to exercise regularly. Whether it’s walking, cycling, swimming, or jogging, try spending at least 30 minutes a day moving to maintain healthy bowels.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits and can help promote healthy levels of bacteria in the gut. Although more studies are needed, some research suggests probiotic consumption can reduce bloating.
You can take probiotics in pill form, or consume probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. If you try supplementing with probiotics, stick with a strain for at least 4 weeks to discern whether it has a beneficial effect on you.
It should also be noted that probiotics are not always recommended for bloating, like in cases of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) for example. Working together with a qualified healthcare practitioner is recommended to avoid making matters worse - we can help!
Eating large volumes of food in a short amount of time is almost sure to leave you feeling bloated. Your stomach becomes stretched, leading to the pooling of gasses and solids inside the gut. Eating too quickly also can cause you to swallow too much air and is a possible cause of bloating. Furthermore, if the foods contain poorly digested carbs, your body will produce more gas.
Instead, focus on eating mindfully and enjoying every mouthful. Paying attention to our hunger and fullness cues is the first step in mindful eating. Slow down, place your fork down in between bites and chew thoroughly. Avoid eating whilst distracted such as scrolling on your phone or watching TV to prevent overeating.
As you can see, a wide variety of foods can influence bloating. Stop guessing and start journaling! Keeping a detailed food journal can help you determine which foods are triggers for you. After a few weeks of logging what you eat and drink, you may be able to pinpoint what exactly causes uncomfortable bloating.
Be sure to also note things like any stressors (work load, family troubles, etc.) you’re experiencing in the journal since stress can be a major contributor.
If bloating is more than a rare occurrence for you, getting proper GI testing is necessary. As mentioned earlier, these natural treatments and lifestyle changes may not suit everyone. A common symptom of bloating could be a larger issue in your intestines such as leaky gut, SIBO, IBS, IBD, and parasites.
Functional stool testing can determine what is really going on and can help to formulate a proper treatment plan. Your natural health practitioner can then help address underlying causes and steer you in the right direction.
There are many steps you can take to reduce the discomfort of bloating. Taking a mindful approach to diet and lifestyle is a great first step. But if your bloating persists for over a week and is consistently painful, talk with us - a qualified practitioner will help get you the proper testing necessary to further identify the root cause and get you bloat free for good!
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