Is It Normal To Feel Bloated And Gassy After Eating
Gas from our gut bugs is normal and a sign that we are giving them the foods they need to thrive. We are all different and have unique gut microbes and diets, so some people will produce more gas than others.
Episodes of gassiness and bloating are often due to specific foods or particularly large meals triggering lots of microbial activity and, in turn, lots of gas.
Some people can be more sensitive to the feeling of gas pushing against the walls of the gut , causing pain and discomfort, even if their microbes arenât producing an unusually large amount of gas.
Excess gas and bloating can sometimes be caused by food intolerances, including lactose intolerance and celiac disease, or certain conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or small intestine bacterial overgrowth .
Rarely, bloating and gut pain can be a symptom of something more serious, including some types of cancer.
If you experience persistent bloating or pains that cannot be explained by a change in your diet or circumstances , you should speak to your physician.
What Is Gas And Where Does It Come From
Lets back up a second and talk about what gas actually isbesides sometimes loud and odorless, sometimes quiet and smelly, and always unwelcome. Simply put, its air trapped in your digestive tract. Some of it comes from air that you swallow the rest of it is produced when bacteria in your large intestine break down undigested food. Chemically, its mostly made up of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. Sometimes other gases, like hydrogen sulfide, can get added to the mix depending on what foods youve eaten. Its these gases that can cause an unpleasant odor.
Theres a whole long list of things that cause gas, Taw says. All the phases of digestion need to be in balance to not develop excessive gas. The first step is easy: Make sure to thoroughly chew your food. Thats so basic but important, says Taw. So many of us eat on-the-go and at our desk, and we dont pay attention to chewing properly. And thats the first phase of digestion. Once you chew and swallow your food, your stomach acid and digestive enzymes produced in your stomach, small intestine, gallbladder, and pancreas need to do their jobs of breaking down the food further. This is important because if food goes into your small intestines not well digested, then bacteria in the intestines will ferment these foods and produce gases, explains Taw.
Why Is Everything I Eat Giving Me Gas
When you have gas, understand that everyone reacts differently to different foods. Your kids or spouse may be able to eat anything you put on the table, while the same foods make you gassy after you eat. You may even feel bloated, and have indigestion. If everything you eat blows up your stomach after meals, you may be sensitive to certain types of foods. Knowing the causes of gas will help you avoid the things that do this to you and make mealtimes more pleasurable.
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Avoid Foods Known To Cause Gas
One way to manage flatulence and belching is to eat fewer of the well-known gassy foods. Common culprits include:
- Fruits like apples and pears
- Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions
- Whole grains like bran
- Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream.
These items contain fiber, sugars, and starches that don’t digest or absorb easily, eventually causing intestinal gas.
Foods containing sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, are on some peoples gassy foods list. Other people are bothered by carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks. If you discover that these foods are causing you excess gas, eliminate them from your diet or consume them in smaller portions. When it comes to foods to avoid, moderation is key, says Stephen Bickston, MD, a professor of internal medicine and the director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at the Center for Digestive Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Keep in mind that almost any food or combination of foods can cause gas.
Certain foods dont get along well in certain people, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician in Poulsbo, Washington. Some people find they are gassy if they eat fruits with proteins, or if they eat starches and proteins together. Its personal and requires a little experimentation to find out what the culprits are.
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.
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Maintain Good Eating Habits
You can help your digestive system by simply changing how you eat, which, in turn, can improve your health. Try eating five to six small meals each day and be sure to chew each bite slowly and completely. Consume water throughout the day and 30 minutes before and after meals. Do not drink water during the meal.
Youre Eating A Lot Of Fodmaps
FOD what? A FODMAP, which is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, refers to carbohydrates that some people may be sensitive to. These are short-chain fatty carbohydrate sugars, and we can’t absorb them very well in the gut, says , M.D., a gastroenterology doctor at the UW Medicine digestive health center. Doctors believe that the bacteria in your gut tends to ferment these carbohydrate sugars, creating gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane in the GI tract, Dr. Eugenio says. This process then causes your good friend bloat to say hello.
But what foods qualify as FODMAPs? Beans, garlic, onion, dairy, apples, pears, and peaches are common ones that people struggle with, reports the IBS Network, an organization familiar with FODMAPs because research shows that patients with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can benefit from limiting their consumption of these foods. But it doesn’t mean you have to cut them out entirely. Manning notes that the amount you consume seems to be important, which is why many people feel uncomfortable after eating a plate full of beans when they haven’t had them in awhile.
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It Could Be An Early Warning Sign Of A Serious Condition
It’s rare compared to other reasons on this list, but bloating may signify another issue that has nothing to do with your lifestyle choices. Constant bloating that doesnt go away after your period, or new instances of bloating that are irregular, could be an early sign of ovarian cancer or colon cancer. Bloating could also signal a number of other serious gastrointestinal problems, such as a bowel blockage, ulcer or conditions like Crohns disease.
Pay attention to other symptoms that accompany your bloating, Dr. Christmas says. If you also have constipation, diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting with blood, pelvic or abdominal pain, and abnormal uterine bleeding or vaginal discharge, changes in appetite, or start feeling full quickly, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Any time you have any concern thats bothering you, especially if its something new, you need to be evaluated, she says.
When Is It Serious
Most of the time, you can manage bloating on your own. But if you also feel weak or lose your appetite, or have diarrhea, weight loss, fever, belly pain, or blood in your stool, talk to your doctor. To find out whatâs going on, they may take a stool sample or an X-ray of your small intestine, or test you for lactose intolerance or celiac disease.
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Explained: The Link Between Stress And Stomach Problems
If you are experiencing stomach problems, then you may also be feeling stressed. When we experience high levels of stress, our gut also feels this stress. Stress and anxiety have been linked to chronic health problems such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. There is also a connection between stomach gurgling and bloating, constipation, and stomach pain. Further symptoms of stress induced stomach gurgling include:
- Bad Bacteria Grows, Good Bacteria Dies
- Leaky Gut
- Reduced production of Serotonin
If your stomach gurgling is a symptom of stress, there are many things you can do to change your behavior and response to stress. In general, most of us will often respond to stressful events in a poor way. We will wait and hope that the source of our stress goes away by itself, excessively shop, drink alcohol, treat ourselves to something we want, or gamble. As a result, we then experience more stress and get stuck in a vicious circle.
There are far better ways to handle stress, including:
- Remove the Source of Stress
- List Ways to Solve the Problem
Learn these 3 simple steps to boost digestive health in the morning from BIOHM Health:
How do you manage stomach disturbances? Are you experiencing persistent stomach growling after eating? Lets talk about gut health in the comments below. Up Next:
Eat The Right Amount Of Fibre
Sometimes a low fibre diet is prescribed to people who suffer with bloating because of bowel problems.
Foods like lentils, beans, broccoli, asparagus, corn, wheat, potatoes, artificial sweeteners or too much fibre can cause bloating, says Mr Chophada. Keeping a food diary to see if any specific foods trigger your symptoms and trying an elimination diet can help.
Your gut bugs have a bit of a party when you feed them fibre, which can shake things up while your gut adjusts. So you might find yourself a little bloated or windy, adds The Gut Stuff team. Try to increase your fibre intake by 5g per day per week over a few weeks to reduce the risk of bloating, advises the team.
If you love bread, here are some breads that may not make you bloat.
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You Might Be Pregnant
The many hormonal changes that you experience during pregnancy can cause bloating, especially during the first trimester. Dr. Christmas says the bloating is mostly due to the increased progesterone production during pregnancy, which can slow down digestion. This can make you constipated or gassy. As the baby grows, starts to take up more space, and pushes on your organs, bloating may get worse.
Foods To Limit To Reduce Flatulence
- dairy products such as milk, if lactose intolerance is present
- dried fruit raisins and prunes
- fruit apple, apricot, peach and pear
- foods high in insoluble fibre particularly seeds and husks
- legumes beans, peas, chickpeas, soybeans and nuts
- vegetables carrot, eggplant, onion, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
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Look At Supplements And Medications
Some supplements, such as iron, can cause constipation and other symptoms of indigestion. This can increase bloating. Potassium, on the other hand, may reduce bloating by helping to balance the bodys sodium levels .
Medications may also cause side effects that affect GI function or cause indigestion. If this happens, a doctor or pharmacist can suggest alternatives that are more gentle on the digestive tract.
Although it is not common, bloating and swelling of the abdomen can signify a severe medical condition. Liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, heart failure, kidney problems, and some types of cancer can cause bloating.
Bloating that continues for days or weeks may indicate a health issue that needs medical attention. It is advisable to speak to a doctor about ongoing bloating that does not go away over time.
People whose bloating occurs alongside these symptoms should seek medical advice:
- appetite changes or trouble eating
- bright red blood in the stool
- black or dark maroon stools
Youre Swallowing Too Much Air
Inadvertently swallowing too much air when you eat or drink, a condition known as aerophagia, may cause bloating and belching, Dr. Fisher says, So drinking through a straw or having carbonated beverages are things that tend to contribute to upper GI bloating.
Eating too fast and chewing gum may also cause you to ingest too much air, adds Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian in the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try your best to slow down when you eat, properly chew your food, and make sure youre staying hydrated throughout the day, she says.
How Is Bloating Diagnosed
Your doctor can generally diagnose the cause of your bloating through a physical exam in the office. They will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know if your bloating is occasional or if it occurs all the time.
Temporary bloating is usually not serious. If it happens all the time, your doctor may order other tests. These could include an imaging test to look inside your abdomen. This could be an X-ray or CT scan.
What Does It Mean To Be Gassy
Feeling gassy typically means having a sense of abdominal fullness, bloating, or pain. Sometimes, this feeling can also cause more frequent belching or passing of gas. For most people, this feeling typically comes from an increased amount of gas in the GI tract. Some people are sensitive to gas in the GI tract and may develop these symptoms even with a normal amount of gas.
These symptoms can be common for many people after eating certain foods. Usually, they are temporary and people often feel better after passing gas. Sometimes, these symptoms may be a sign of an underlying medical problem. This may be the case if your symptoms of gassiness or bloating are new, very frequent, or continue after youve changed your diet. Other signs of a problem are when the gassiness occurs along with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
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How To Prevent Bloating
Typically, the first line of treatment for preventing gas and bloating is changing your diet. Research has shown that a low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols diet can reduce the symptoms of gas and IBS. A low FODMAP diet avoids fermentable, gas-producing food ingredients, such as:
- Oligosaccharides, which are found in wheat, onions, garlic, legumes and beans
- Disaccharides, such as lactose in milk, yogurt and ice cream
- Monosaccharides, including fructose , apples and pears
- Polyols or sugar alcohols found in foods such as apricots, nectarines, plums and cauliflower, as well as many chewing gums and candies
In people sensitive to FODMAP-rich foods, the small intestine doesn’t always fully absorb these carbohydrates, and instead passes them to the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria and produce gas. To see if some of the FODMAP foods are causing your gas and bloating you can start by cutting out FODMAP foods and then slowly bringing them back into your diet one at a time to pinpoint any foods that are causing the problems.
In the long run, the key to preventing bloating is understanding its cause. If mild constipation is the problem, a fiber-rich diet, water and exercise may help, but these steps wont always work for chronic constipation. Chronic constipation and other conditions, such as IBS or gastroparesis, require medical treatment, so its important to talk to your doctor about your bloating symptoms.
You Could Be Constipated
Constipation is one of the most common GI problems, according to Johns Hopkins Health, and it affects women more than men. Along with your period, not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber and taking some medications may make you constipated. The lower GI is where you tend to feel very distended, saysDeborah Fisher, M.D., a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine. Constipation may make you feel bloated or like you need to pass gas. Cramps are also common, and if you’re feeling bloated at the same time, you might resolve both by making a few trips to the restroom.
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Youre Not Getting Enough Exercise
Exercise can do wonders for your GI tract. Essentially, it gets things moving and decreases your risk for constipation and, therefore, bloating. Adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, along with strength-building exercises. Just by exercise and adhering to a plant-forward diet, like the Mediterranean diet, its beneficial for a lot of things and can help with bloating, as well, Dr. Christmas says.
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.
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