Causes Of Bloated Stomach And 7 Ways To Get Rid Of It
The causes of stomach bloating range from drinking too much diet soda pop through a straw to intestinal bowel syndrome . The natural remedies for belly bloat range from eating more fiber and drinking more water to finding an effective non-antibiotic treatment for IBS.
First, here are five specific foods, lifestyle habits, and health conditions that cause stomach bloating:
Heres more information about each cause of bloating
Eat At Regular Intervals
Many people experience bloating directly after a big meal. It is possible to avoid this by eating several smaller meals each day, which can help to keep the digestive system moving.
Swallowing food quickly can introduce air into the digestive tract. Drinking from a straw can also lead to people swallowing more air, which in turn leads to gas and bloating. People who have bloating should avoid using straws if possible and try eating slowly to avoid swallowing air during meals.
Try Not To Get Constipated
Regular exercise, adequate water intake and a âGoldilocksâ dose of daily fiber can prevent constipation, itself a frequent cause of bloating. As long as youâve ruled out a medical disorder, Dr. Guandalini also says that occasional use of over-the-counter stool softeners to ease constipation-related bloating is fine.
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Milk Ice Cream Or Dairy Products
If you experience uncomfortable belly bloat after drinking milk or eating cheese or ice cream, you may be lactose intolerant. This means your body doesnt produce enough lactase, which is an enzyme that helps digest milk.
Causes of Bloating
But it can get a wee bit more complicated: instead of being lactose intolerant, you may be allergic to the proteins found in milk. According to the Mayo Clinic, all true food allergies are caused by an immune system malfunction. Your immune system identifies certain milk proteins as harmful, which triggers the production of immunoglobulin E antibodies to neutralize the milk protein. When you next drink milk or eat ice cream, your immune system releases histamine and other chemicals.
There are two main proteins in cows milk that can cause belly bloat:
- Casein, found in the solid part of milk that curdles
- Whey, found in the liquid part of milk that remains after milk curdles
If youre allergic to milk proteins, youll experience a range of allergic signs and symptoms including intestinal gas and stomach bloating. So, belly bloat may be caused by either a lactose intolerance or a protein allergy. Your best bet? Eliminate dairy and see if your stomach bloating and gas goes away. Below, I describe different ways to get rid of intestinal gas that is caused by dairy and milk products.
Ease Into A Yoga Pose
Once the dessert is cleared, find some space to give your body a nice stretch. Gentle yoga poses like Childs pose or Cat/Cow can help relieve abdominal discomfort associated with bloating, Doyle says. Hold each pose for five deep breaths , and continue repeating until you feel some relief, she says. Allow your belly to expand fully with each inhale, Doyle says. This helps to activate your bodys parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest mode, which is calming and will allow you to better digest your food.
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Avoid Rapid Weight Gain
Rapid weight gain is linked to bloating for several reasons.
First, a buildup of fat in your stomach area may constrain your bowels, increasing tension and contributing to bloating. Additionally, fat may have inflammatory effects, contributing to hypersensitivity in your gut .
Finally, unwanted weight gain may cause you to focus attention on your stomach area, which may increase your perception of bloating .
If you have overweight or obesity and are experiencing bloating, trying some healthy strategies for weight loss such as exercise and limiting portion sizes may be beneficial.
Rapid weight gain may contribute to bloating by increasing bowel tension, inflammation, and mental focus on your stomach area. Conversely, weight loss may help reduce these effects.
How Do You Treat Bloating
If you experience bloating that can’t be avoided, there are over-the-counter medications that can help ease discomfort.
- Antacidscontain simethicone, which adhere to bubbles in the stomach so that gas is more easily released.
- Lactaid contains lactase, which can help prevent gas for people with lactose intolerance.
- Pepto-Bismol, which is the brand name for bismuth subsalicylate,may help reduce bloating caused by an upset stomach.
- Beano is a product that contains an enzyme called alpha-galactosidasethat breaks down complex carbohydrates into more digestible sugars. This helps prevent gas.
- Probioticsare “good” bacteria that help maintain the health of the digestive system. They can be found in foods such as yogurt as well as in OTC supplements.
- Movement and massage,like a walk around the block or an abdominal self massage, can help get gasses in the digestive system moving.
How To Get Rid Of Gas
Often, your gas is caused by what you eat. Food is digested primarily in your small intestine. What is left undigested is fermented in your colon with bacteria, fungi, and yeast, as part of digestion. This process produces methane and hydrogen, which are expelled as flatus.
For many people, changing dietary habits is enough to alleviate gas and its accompanying symptoms. One way to determine which foods are giving you gas is by keeping a food diary. Common culprits include:
- foods with high fat content
- fried or spicy food
- artificial ingredients commonly found in low-carbohydrate and sugar-free products, such as sugar alcohol, sorbitol, and maltitol
- beans and lentils
- cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli
- prunes or prune juice
- foods containing lactose, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products
- fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols molecules found in a wide range of foods, such as garlic and onion, that may be hard to digest
- over-the-counter fiber drinks and supplements
Once you figure out what food is causing the gas, you can modify your diet to avoid the culprit.
If changing your diet doesnt completely do the trick, you have several options to try.
Eat Slowly And Chew Your Food Mindfully
No more inhaling a huge happy meal in front of Netflix every night. And by inhaling I mean I eat really really really fast. My husband eats really really slow. Who has a bloated stomach? Not my husband.
Chewing your food slowly and mindfully signals your stomach and digestive tract that its time to get to work. This gives your intestines time to prepare to digest your food.
Instead of eating three big meals per day, try eating smaller meals more often. This can keep you free of the stomach bloating that often follows large meals. Eating more frequently can also help control your blood sugar and manage hunger. Try to eat five or even six small meals each day, but make sure you dont eat more food than you need.
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Does Lemon Water Help With Bloating
As a bonus, lemon juice helps to loosen the toxins floating around in your GI tract, relieve the painful symptoms that accompany indigestion, and even reduce the risk of burping and bloating resulting from excess gas production in your gut. Lemon water can keep your digestive system purring like a kitty all day long.
Don’t Multitask When Eating
“I’m almost never just eating a mealI’m also on my computer or watching television or scrolling through my phone,” admits Lindsey Metrus, Byrdie’s senior editor. After a lifetime of bloat, she decided to try traditional Chinese medicine to ward off some of her discomfort. It turns out, the distraction was part of the problem. “Multitasking with some sort of digital distraction leads to overeating or scarfing down food hurriedly, which translates to poor digestion. It’s also one of the main reasons people face spleen qi deficiency,” according to Emma Suttie, D.Ac., AP.
Metrus continues, “I made it a point to enjoy as many meals as I could peacefully and undistracted, focusing on chewing each piece of food since breaking down foods before they get to the spleen means the spleen has less work to do.” Not only will chewing slowly encourage healthier digestion and, in turn, less bloat, but it will also speed up your metabolism .
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The Best Treatments For Gas And Bloating
Did you know that lemon is a natural detoxifier? It acts as a cleansing agent, which, Taz explains, helps to eliminate unwanted bloat from the body. She recommends sipping on hot lemon water in the morning. Or try balancing your digestive system with this caffeine-free herbal tea.
Additional reporting by Amy Schlinger
Eat Slowly So You Don’t Gulp Air
When you finally get home after a long day, you’re totally famishedwe get it. But that doesn’t mean you should scarf down your dinner in a hurry. Eating too quickly causes you to swallow excess air, which can lead to uncomfortable gas and bloating. Slowing down the chewing with your mouth closed, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. Fight off the urge to engorge your entire meal by snacking on something like a small piece of fruit or an ounce of nuts before dinner is ready.
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Bad Eating Habits = Bloating
Its no surprise that bad eating habits can contribute to bloating. Overeating or eating too quickly can cause that stuffed feeling because your digestive system slows down, trying to process a large or fast intake of food. When you talk while eating, drink through a straw or chew gum, you swallow air that can go into your digestive system, causing bloating.
Processed foods, such as hotdogs and chips, also can create bloating. Many processed foods are high in sodium, which makes your body retain water and can cause your stomach to feel bloated. Sugary foods and snacks break down in your body and can make you gassy.
Even what you drink can upset your stomach. Carbonated beverages like beer and soda contain bubbles with carbon dioxide, a gas that releases into your stomach.
Symptoms And Causes Of Bloating
When bloating occurs in the abdomen, most people experience an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, and the belly may appear swollen and distended. Stomach bloating may be accompanied by other symptoms such as flatulence, belching, stomach gurgling, constipation or nausea. While common occurrences , the symptoms can be awkward for many individuals. Understanding the causes can help reduce the frequency and discomfort.
Digestive health specialist, Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN, explains in her book, The Bloated Belly Whisperer, that bloating can occur in either the upper abdomen or lower abdomen. “The most common cause is buildup of gas in the digestive tract after eating,” Freuman tells LIVESTRONG.com. “Another cause is eating too much fiber or gassy foods like beans.”
Freuman recommends taking a photo of your bloated belly and making a note of when symptoms start after eating, their length and severity. Bring this information to your doctor to discuss what further diagnostic tests may be needed to treat your stomach bloating.
Read more:Causes of Upper Abdominal Bloating
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What Exactly Does It Mean To Feel Bloated
A common misconception about bloating is that its always the result of eating too big a meal. To doctors, it usually means an excess of gas in the gastrointestinal region, causing abdominal discomfort and distension.
Causes can range from an imbalance of bacteria, to eating too much fiber, to not eating enough. When you take antibiotics, the bacteria responsible for breaking down complex carbohydrates may fail and produce gas. The most common causes of bloating, however, are swallowing too much air and eating too fast.
Remedies And Treatments For Bloated Stomachs
While stomach bloating will often resolve on its own, the following measures may help reduce bloating or address its underlying causes:
Exercise and Posture
Physical exercise can help reduce bloating and clear gas from the body. Posture adjustment can also help. The body retains more gas when you are lying on your back, so try to stay active throughout the day.
Both simethicone and activated charcoal are marketed as gas-reducers. The two have proven ineffective and/or inconsistent when used on their own in clinical trials. However, there is some evidence to suggest that they may work when combined or when used with magnesium oxide or loperamide .
The use of probiotics to help with digestive issues is common but little studied. Still, there is some evidence that using probiotics can help reduce stomach bloating. The formula in VSL#3 proved to reduce bloating in both adults and children in clinical studies.
One common cause of stomach bloating is the inability to digest certain foods. Most digestive enzyme supplements are effective only for people who cannot produce enzymes for medical reasons. However, over-the-counter enzymes have proven to help with the digestion of two commonly problematic foods: dairy and legumes .
If you have a hard time digesting the sugars in these foods, you might benefit from lactase supplements for dairy or alpha-galactosidase supplements for legumes.
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Why Is My Stomach Bloated Causes Of Bloating
Theres no single culprit to bloating, and we are all individual. It depends on many things like stress, gut microbes, how sensitive your gut is and how quickly you eat your food, says The Gut Stuff team.
Certainly, theres a current trend of demonising bloating, but there are so many reasons why we get bloated. These range from not chewing properly to your microbes having a little party after lots of fibre, continues The Gut Stuff team. Above all, its important to remember that the severity of bloating will vary from feeling a wee bit gassy to experiencing pain and discomfort.
Here are some reasons why youre bloated and what you can do.
How Is Bloating Treated
Bloating will usually go away by itself if you adjust your diet for a while. Cut down on salty foods, carbohydrates and fizzy drinks. For some people, it can help to avoid foods that contain onion or garlic, wheat, rye, lactose products or stone fruit.
Bloating caused by constipation can be treated by eating more high-fibre foods, increasing the amount of water that you drink, and exercising regularly. Some people may need laxatives to treat constipation.
If you have a medical condition such as coeliac disease, you will need to follow a strict diet to prevent bloating and other symptoms. If you have IBS, following a high-fibre diet and the low FODMAP diet may help. This involves cutting out some dairy products, wheat and other grains, and some fruits and vegetables. Talk to a health professional such as your doctor or a dietitian before starting this diet to make sure it is right for you.
If you have a food intolerance, you may need to try an elimination diet to find out which food or foods are causing your problems. Your doctor or dietitian will advise you.
Some people find that probiotics containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium can help with bloating by reducing the production of gas in the gut.
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Eat More Fiber And Avoid Refined Flour
Foods made with white flour like white bread, white pasta, and white rice are relatively low in fiber and may cause you to get a little, uh, backed up. Instead, opt for whole-grain varieties. A simple switch from white bread to whole wheat or from white rice to brown will keep things moving along smoothly.
High fiber foods that are free of indigestible fibers mentioned before include:
- Whole grain bread
Check For A Food Intolerance Or Allergy
Occasionally, a wheat allergy or lactose intolerance results in a lot of undigested food that can be acted on by bacteria and cause bloating, says Dr Chopada.
If you want to reduce bloating consider food intolerances, says Claire. The most common intolerances are lactose , fructose , wheat and gluten, and eggs. You can do this by cutting out food you think you might be intolerant to and seeing how your body reacts. If you arent sure, find a specialist who can test you, she advises.
Over the counter medications like Deflatine tablets can help, adds Dr Chophada.
Drinking enough water can actually reduce bloating, rather than cause it.
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Eliminate All Dairy Products For Two Weeks
Do find your stomach gets bloated after you eat ice cream or drink milk? Heres a simple way to find out if youre lactose intolerant: eliminate all dairy products for a couple of weeks to see if your belly bloat goes away. Milk, ice cream and cream tend to be the most difficult to tolerate for people who are lactose intolerant Greek yogurt and hard cheese like parmesan, Romano or feta and goat cheese are lower-fat dairy products that contain less lactose.
Lactaid Fast Act Lactase Enzyme Supplements are a great solution for when you dont want to give up dairy. Lactase enzymes make it easier to digest dairy products and theyre safe, sold over-the-counter in pharmacies or health food stores.
And, consider switching from dairy cow-milk to almond, coconut, soy or another plant-based milk. You might even think about trying goat or sheep milk and dairy products, which dont contain casein .