Most of us have experienced bloating at one point or another. Some of us have felt bloated after a large meal.
Others feel bloated most of the time, seemingly no matter what they eat or drink.
Bloating symptoms are reported by 10 to 30% of the general population. 60% of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome rate bloating as their most bothersome symptom.
If you are one of these people, you may be wondering how to get rid of bloating. There are solutions. Let’s discuss some ways to reduce or eliminate belly bloat.
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What is bloating?
Bloating is considered to be a symptom. This is because a symptom is something that the patient perceives and can’t be objectively evaluated by a practitioner. The sign is abdominal distension because it is something that your doctor can see and assess.
It’s unclear how much bloating’s subjective symptom correlates with the objective sign of abdominal distension and stomach gas. The best definition of bloating is the sensation of higher pressure in the abdomen.
Bloating can be chronic and highly distressing. It can even lead to abdominal pain. Along with bloating can come increased gas and belching. Bloating is one of the most common and troublesome digestive problems for patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
It is difficult to measure, assess, and grade bloating. The only association that can really be measured is the increase in girth that sometimes occurs. Bloating doesn’t only happen in people with gastrointestinal disorders, however. It can also happen in healthy people.
What causes bloating?
Scientists don’t fully understand the mechanism behind bloating. Diet and lifestyle certainly are important factors. When bloating happens not as part of another functional bowel or gastrointestinal disorder, we call it functional bloating. Potential causes of bloating include the following:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (called IBS for short)
- Functional dyspepsia
- Functional constipation
- Gas-producing intestinal microbiota
- Disturbed handling of intestinal gas
- Visceral hypersensitivity
- Abnormal organ-somatic responses
- Fermentable diet (the effect of poorly absorbed fermentable oligosaccharides)
- Psychological factors
- Increased contents of the intestines (gas, stools, liquid, or fat)
- Impaired abdominal emptying
- Altered intra-abdominal volume displacement (this is what’s called the abdomino-phrenic theory)
- Increased perception of intestinal stimuli
- H. pylori infection
- Celiac disease
- Nonceliac sensitivities to gluten and other food components
- Uterine disorders
- Posterior nasal discharge (postnasal drip)
- Leaky gut syndrome (also called intestinal hyperpermeability)
- Issues with stomach acid
- Too much salt in the diet (this is due to its excess sodium content)
16 tips to prevent bloating
1) Don’t overeat
When you overeat, you feel stuffed. This sensation is similar to the feeling of bloating. If you feel this way after eating a large meal, the solution is simple. Eat less! Start by having smaller portions.
If you feel like you need more food, then you can add a smaller meal to your day. Some people feel bloated, even though their stomach isn’t distended. There is no actual added pressure in the abdomen, either. This is due to a sensory issue. These people will feel bloated, even with a small amount of food.
2) Chew your food
Chewing your food properly has multiple benefits. This reduces the amount of air you swallow when you eat, thus reducing stomach bloating. Chewing your food well also slows down the eating process. When you eat more slowly, this can cause you to eat less. This can also lead to less bloating and weight gain.
Exercise helps with regular digestion. Regular bowel movements help to release stool and gas. If your abdominal bloating is due to constipation, then getting the bowels moving is important. Exercise can be as simple as going for a quick walk and can help relieve bloating.
4) Do yoga poses
Certain yoga poses can encourage gas to release from your gut. This can help to manage bloating. These poses include yogic squats, Happy Baby, and Child’s pose. Of course, wind relieving pose is also helpful for this reason!
5) Rule out food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies
Food sensitivity, intolerances, and allergies are common. When you eat foods that you are intolerant to, you can get gas and bloating. Some of the more common food intolerances are listed below. If you suspect you have a food intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy, it’s important you speak to your healthcare provider.
Lactose is a sugar in milk and milk products. The main symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas and bloating. Lactose intolerance is extremely common. Try cutting out foods containing lactose for a trial period and see how you feel. Sources of lactose include the following:
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Soft cheeses
Fructose intolerance can cause bloating. Fructose is an indigestible carbohydrate called a FODMAP. A very common cause of bloating is FODMAP intolerance.
Egg allergy symptoms include gas and bloating.
Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. When people are intolerant to gluten, they can have bloating and other symptoms of digestive upset.
10) Try not to swallow air
In the digestive system, gas comes from one of two places. It is either produced by bacteria in the gut or comes into the stomach when you swallow while eating or drinking. This can happen with carbonated beverages like pop or sparkling water. This is because they have carbon dioxide bubbles.
Once the bubbles from carbonated drinks reach your stomach, they can release carbon dioxide gas. This can cause you to have a bloated stomach. Other situations that can cause you to swallow air include chewing gum, using a straw, eating quickly, and talking while eating.
11) Avoid foods that cause gas
Certain foods produce lots of gas, such as beans, lentils, and bran. These foods affect each person differently, so it’s best to track your food and symptoms to see which cause bloating for you.
Foods that are high in fat can also slow down digestion and stomach emptying. This can be helpful for weight loss and satiety. However, it’s problematic for bloating. Try cutting out beans and high-fat foods to see if your bloating goes down.
12) Eat a low FODMAP diet
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (called IBS for short) is the most common digestive disorder in the world. Common symptoms are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal gas pain.
Many studies show that indigestible carbohydrates called FODMAPs can trigger symptoms in patients with IBS. A low FODMAP diet can be helpful in IBS. If you find that cruciferous veggies and similar foods trigger your bloating, you may want to consider a low FODMAP diet.
FODMAP is an acronym. It stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.” These foods are fermentable, meaning that gut bacteria can degrade them to produce methane and carbon dioxide gases.
Oligosaccharides include Fructo-oligosaccharides, called FOS for short. These are in wheat, rye, onions, and garlic. Another type of oligosaccharide is Galacto-oligosaccharides, called GOS for short. These are found in legumes and pulses.
The main Disaccharide is lactose, which is in milk, soft cheese, and yogurt. The main Monosaccharide is fructose, which is in honey, apples, and high fructose corn syrups. Polyols include sugar polyols such as sorbitol and mannitol. These are present in some fruits and vegetables. They are also in artificial sweeteners.
13) Avoid sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are often in sugar-free products. This is because they are artificial sweeteners and can be alternatives to sugar. However, sugar alcohols are high in FODMAPs. Sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is fairly well tolerated but can be problematic in large doses.
14) Take digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes can help to break down those indigestible carbohydrates. One example of a digestive enzyme is lactase, which helps to break down lactose.
Another digestive enzyme supplement is called Beano. This contains alpha-galactosidase. This helps to break down various indigestible carbohydrates. In some people, digestive enzymes can provide immediate relief from bloating.
Alternatively, you could try taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar. This encourages the body’s own endogenous enzyme production in the stomach. This helps to break down food more effectively and can help to reduce bloating.
15) Prevent constipation
Constipation is a common digestive issue. It has several different potential causes. Studies show that constipation can worsen bloating. To treat constipation, most people are told to eat more fiber.
However, high fiber foods that are high FODMAP can make bloating and constipation worse. Other strategies for relieving constipation include drinking water and exercising more. You may also want to ask your health care provider about activated charcoal supplements.
16) Take probiotics
Gut bacteria produce gas. This can be a major cause of bloating. Several clinical studies show that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce gas production and bloating. This is what happens when you balance out bad bacteria with probiotics (which are good bacteria). You can also get probiotics from fermented foods. These include foods such as the following:
17) Take peppermint oil
Muscles in the digestive tract can have altered function, leading to bloating. Peppermint oil has antispasmodic effects on these muscles. Peppermint oil is available in supplement form.
Peppermint oil is also an ingredient present in regular peppermint tea. Numerous studies show that it can reduce bloating and other digestive symptoms in patients with IBS. Peppermint is carminative and antispasmodic. So is fennel seed, which is another natural remedy worth trying.
18) Try abdominal massage
Massaging the abdominal area can help to get the bowels moving. If you do this, you want to make sure you follow the intestinal path of digestion. You can do this by following these directions:
- Begin with your hands just above your right hip bone
- Rub in small circles, using light pressure
- Go up towards the right side of your ribs
- Go across the upper belly towards the left side of your body
- Move down, towards the left hip bone
- Repeat as needed
19) Try taking a warm bath
A warm bath can relieve a sore stomach. A warm bath is also relaxing, so it can reduce stress levels. This can cause the GI tract to work more effectively, thus relieving bloating.
20) Talk to your health care provider
If you have severe or chronic bloating, talk to your health care provider. They will be able to rule out any serious conditions or catch it if something requires closer medical attention.
Bloating is uncomfortable and unpleasant. As we’ve discussed, it’s also difficult to measure, assess, and grade bloating. It’s something that a patient can report, but that is hard for a doctor to objectively look at.
There are several different potential causes of bloating. Although its mechanism isn’t fully understood, we know that diet and lifestyle certainly play a role.
You must speak to your health care provider about bloating. This way, you’ll be able to determine any food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances. Your doctor can also help to rule out any chronic and/or serious conditions. If you have a more serious condition, they can monitor it and provide treatment for it.
You don’t have to feel this uncomfortable all the time. Beat the bloat using the tips above, and you can thank us later!