Your pants won’t button, your stomach has grown in size, and you just feel so sluggish you barely want to leave the house. What are we talking about? Bloating.
Maybe you ate too much or maybe something you ate just isn’t sitting right, whatever the cause, one thing is for sure – bloating is highly uncomfortable.
The gassy bulging you feel is a result of swallowed air and the breakdown of food through digesting. It can occur often or may happen only rarely. If the bloating and gas pains are persistent, then it could be a sign of a more serious health issue.
Ideally, gas is released through flatulence, which is a normal part of life. But if this gas can’t be released, then it builds up in the stomach and intestines. The result is bloating.
Causes of bloating
There are many reasons why we may bloat and have difficulties passing gas. Some reasons are:
- Having a food intolerance like lactose or celiac disease
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Eating fatty foods
- Stress or anxiety
- Eating gassy food or carbonated beverages
- An infection
- Fluid retention (called edema or ascites)
- Having a stomach disorder
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Bowel obstruction
- Hormonal changes
As we mentioned, you may also have food sensitivities and some foods can worsen bloating. Foods that can promote bloating include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
- Sugar alcohols
- Chewing gum.
Types of bloating
So far we know that bloating mainly occurs in the stomach and the intestines due to the many factors listed above. This is referred to as abdominal bloating. But there are other types of bloating as well. For example, women may experience different types of bloating simply because of their biology.
In particular, women often have bloating during pregnancy. Pregnancy bloating happens because progesterone levels increase. This hormone is responsible for smoothing muscle tissue. When this occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, it slows down digestion which in turn leads to bloating and gas. As pregnancy progresses, the uterus cavity crowds the abdomen, causing slower digesting and an increase in bloating.
Additionally, women must also deal with pre-menstrual bloating, which occurs right before their periods. This is attributed to the change in hormones and an increase in water retention, leading to pre-menstrual bloating.
Bloating is reported by 10 to 30 percent of adults. Common bloating symptoms are:
- Excess gas
- Frequent belching
- Abdominal rumbling
- Abdominal discomfort
- Feeling full
- Feeling tight
- Swollen abdomen
Other warning signs and symptoms of bloating
Other symptoms of bloating that you may not even attribute to bloating include weight loss, fluid retention, severe abdominal pain, blood in your stool, and fever.
10 tips to avoid bloating
Because bloating can be uncomfortable and can impact your daily life, the best way to combat it is taking steps to avoid it altogether. Here are 10 tips to avoid bloating:
- Drink plenty of water
- Stop smoking
- Avoid fatty foods
- Avoid foods that may promote gas
- Avoid chewing gum
- Eat and chew slowly to avoid swallowing air
- Get tested for food intolerance’s or other gastrointestinal illnesses
- Avoid carbonated beverages
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
10 natural remedies for bloating
Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t stop the bloat, and the next thing you know, you’re experiencing the gas and discomfort. In that case, why not try these effective natural remedies for bloating:
1. Warm lemon water: Trying to flush out the water is not only good for prevention, but also as a bloating remedy. Adding a lemon to water can bring you quicker relief. Warm lemon water can help promote detoxification and provide you with vitamin C. The acidity of the lemon can aid in digestion, breaking down whatever you just consumed.
2. Ginger: Whether in a tea or on its own, ginger is a natural remedy for bloating. It acts as an anti-inflammatory for your digestive system, allowing digestion to occur and promoting movement of whatever may be stuck.
3. Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal has the ability to trap gas caused by bacteria. This is recommended if your bloating is due to illness, as it can help remove bad bacteria.
4. Bananas: Bananas contain fiber, which can help eliminate bloating. Bananas can also help you go to the washroom, if your bloating is causing constipation.
5. Self massage: Sometimes giving yourself an abdominal massage can help get the gas moving along and, therefore, relieve bloating. Rubbing your hands counter-clockwise on your stomach may relieve the bloat.
6. Exercise: Exercise isn’t just a means to prevent bloating. It can be a remedy as well. Although you may not feel like moving while bloated, make the effort, because it can offer relief. By increasing circulation, you can promote the release of gas. There are also a few yoga poses, like the child’s pose, which can aid in bloating. Exercise can also help get bowel movements moving along.
7. Passing the gas: One thing you can do to make bloating and the discomfort worse is holding in the gas. The reason you’re so uncomfortable is a buildup of gas, so holding it in isn’t doing yourself any favors. When possible, try to release the gas, especially when the feeling arises.
8. Fennel seeds: Fennel seeds are a diuretic, and they contain pain-reducing properties. You can add fennel seeds to your meal or steep them like a tea to combat bloating.
9. Caraway seeds: Similar to fennel seeds, caraway seeds can be eaten or steeped to help relieve bloating. They contain antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties. They also have the ability to smooth muscles in the digestive tract to help expel gas.
10. Water-rich snacks: Watermelon and grapes are just some of the fruits that contain high amounts of water. If getting in eight glasses of water a day is hard, stocking up on water-rich snacks can be a natural remedy for bloating.
Managing the bloat
You probably know already how bloating and gas can put a damper on your life, so taking steps to prevent bloating is key to good health. Knowing how to rectify bloating once it begins can help you get back to participating in your favorite activities.
Being mindful of what and how you eat, as well as getting in as much water as possible, are surefire ways to ensure your stomach doesn’t take over your day.
Related: Yoga and sleeping positions to relieve gas and bloating