Being bloated is no fun, and we've all felt it at one time or the other. That too-full feeling you get in your belly when you feel like you can't take another breath. The feeling of your abdomen being fit enough to burst could have started after eating an extra-large triple cheese pizza or an ice cream sundae bar.
However, the thing is while bloating is most often related to our not-so-good dietary choices, it could also occur as a result of a number of other reasons.
So why do you feel uncomfortable and a wee bit extra puffy in your midsection? We've provided seven reasons for it in this post. But first, let's find out what bloating is and what its most common symptoms are.
What Is Bloating?
Bloating is a gastrointestinal disorder that occurs when the intestinal tract is filled with gas or air. It is a common disorder that affects people regardless of gender, race or age.
Bloating can be generalized or localized. Generalized bloating occurs all over the body where the body retains more water than usual. Localized bloating, on the other hand, occurs to specific organs that become swollen and causes discomfort.
The person affected by a bloated stomach feels full to an uncomfortable degree like there is no room in the stomach. It can make the stomach look bigger and the clothes tighter.
Sometimes, the abdominal bloating can get so severe that the abdomen stretches out leading to pain and shortness of breath. This accompanying pain can be very sharp and change location quickly.
Symptoms Of Bloating
Discomfort or pain in the abdominal region
A sense of abdominal fullness
A case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Causes Of Stomach Bloating
Contrary to what many might think, your gut could be in a rut for a whole lot of other reasons - some serious and others not so serious.
So what are the causes of a bloated belly? Let's check out some of them.
One of the most common causes of a bloated stomach is the build-up of gas in the intestine and stomach. The GI tract gets gas from two sources. The first source is from the bacteria living within the intestines, and the second is from air swallowed when consuming food and beverages.
When air is swallowed during periods of rapid drinking or eating, it can cause the stomach to become distended. Our body naturally responds to this by burping or farting in order to remove the excess gas.
Bloating caused by gas can also occur by eating certain foods that produce a lot of gas when digested. The most common culprits are cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and starchy foods like noodles and potatoes. These foods are usually digested very slowly and therefore releases sulfur gas while passing through the gut.
This is also one of the causes of bloating. Constipation can occur due to dehydration, bowel disorders, food intolerance, lack of fiber in the diet, nutrient deficiencies, pregnancy, not drinking enough water and sudden changes to diet.
Constipation could come with some associated symptoms which include blood in the stool, abdominal pain, pain in the rectum. Episodes of constipation are short-lived and usually pass on it own in most cases.
3. Celiac Disease
This is an autoimmune condition that occurs as a result of an intolerance to a protein called gluten. This includes gluten found in foods like wheat, barley, rye, and many other pre-packaged foods. This autoimmune disorder attacks the lining of the intestine and can cause bloating, chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, loss of appetite, lots of gas and weight loss.
Unlike gluten intolerance, a person with celiac disease must permanently avoid even minute amounts of gluten in the diet. Eating gluten will result in an abnormal immune response where the body mistakes substances in gluten as a threat and releases autoantibodies that can affect various organs.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
One of the disruptive side effects of IBS is bloating. IBS is a 'functional' disorder that affects about one in five adults. 'Functional' here means there's nothing wrong with any one part of the bowel, but the way the gut works itself is abnormal. The type of bloating associated with IBS can lead to the affected person going up a couple of clothes sizes.
Other symptoms of IBS include tummy pain, diarrhoea, wind, and constipation.
5. Enjoying a High-starch or High-sodium Diet
Diets high in salt (sodium) can lead to water retention in the body, and can even lead to more serious health problems like high blood pressure. While our body does require sodium, most often, a lot of us get more than we require.
Also, foods high in carbs can cause bloating as they increase the amount of gas in the body. While carbs provide the fuel the body can use quickly, taking in too many at once can also lead to water retention. You should know that the faster the carb enters your blood, the more likely it is for you to retain water.
Foods like soft drinks, pastries, and white bread are referred to as simple carbs, and they enter the blood almost instantly. Complex carbs like fruits and whole grains, on the other hand, don't, because they take longer to digest.
6. Hormonal Fluctuations
The hormone progesterone levels in the body are raised just before your period sets in or during pregnancy. This slows down gut movement, causing food to pass slowly through the gut, hence leading to the body holding on to water.
7. You Take a Lot of Bubbly Beverages
While soda, beer, seltzer water, and champagne might seem like four different drinks, these bubbly drinks all contain carbonation that has a similar effect on your stomach. The bubbles expand and fill up your digestive system leading to a slightly bulging belly. Also, a lot of soda contains a high level of sugar that can lead to water retention and make you feel bloated.
Home Remedies For Bloating
1. Load Up On Probiotics
Probiotics contain good bacteria that produce enzymes that help us digest problem foods like dairy and starch. You can supplement on Probiotics by taking foods like yogurt and buttermilk naturally containing the good species of bacteria or you opt for Probiotics pills instead.
2. Increase Your Potassium intake
When you consume more potassium, it helps you flush out excess salt from the body and also maintain fluid balance. Some excellent food sources of potassium include legumes, green leafy veggies, and avocado.
3. Drink Lemon Water
Lemon juice is a natural diuretic, and it also contains potassium, so it can help as a bloating remedy. Also, generally, increasing your water intake helps improve digestion. So by adding lemon to water, you get to drink more which will help ease the tension in your stomach.
Ginger has been used for years as an anti-bloating remedy because of its carminative properties that help expel gas from the digestive tract and soothe it. Try some ginger tea before and after meals by adding a slice of its root to a cup of hot water.
5. Drink Peppermint Tea
Peppermint Tea contains menthol and menthone which has antispasmodic and digestive properties. It also helps stimulate the secretion of gastric juices and bile, which in turn expels gas.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
While ACV might be more popular for cleansing, it can also help treat gas and bloating by amping up your digestive system. Add one tablespoon to 8.12 ounces of warm water and drink before your next meal.