Is abdominal bloating messing with your comfort and your looks? Finding out what the most common causes of bloating are, as well as how to fight it, will help most people feel better in no time. If your bloating still persists after taking proactive steps to prevent it, it is time to see your doctor.
Causes Of Abdominal Bloating
We've all felt "bloated" on occasion, sometimes even simply after eating too large a meal. When that bloating, also medically called abdominal distension, becomes a frequent and long-term problem, however, you are going to want some answers. That bloating is not only aesthetically displeasing, after all, it's also uncomfortable.
Abdominal bloating is such a common problem that everyone's bound to have their own take on what causes it. Whatever your friend, co-worker, or neighbor advises you to do after you complain of being bloated is bound to have some kernel of truth.
Your bloating could be caused by:
- Gas: We all pass wind, an average of 13 times a day in fact. Excess gas within the digestive system can, however, be one cause of bloating. It can be the result of a habit of swallowing air, or eating notoriously "gassy" foods, notably those that contain carbohydrates that can't be digested by your body and instead require bacteria to break them down. Certain medical conditions and medications can also lead to excess gas.
- Constipation, a condition that causes you to have infrequent bowel movements or to be unable to empty your bowel fully.
- Food intolerances such as an intolerance to lactose.
- Celiac disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the intestinal tract in reaction to gluten consumption.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a digestive condition characterized by alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
- Contrary to popular belief, water retention generally accumulates around the ankles rather than in the abdomen. In some cases, however, this too can contribute towards that bloated state.
Whatever is causing your bloating, it is annoying and you'd like to send it packing as soon as possible. Here are some things you could try.
Gassy Foods (And Drinks)
Processed carbs are a big offender in the bloating department. Our digestive systems simply can't process them all, which then causes the numerous gut bacteria that inhabit our bodies to do the job for us. As they do, they release the gasses that lead to bloating and flatulence.
Healthy foods can lead to bloating too, however. Everyone knows that beans (and other legumes) can lead to gas. The same holds true for veg from the cruciferous family, like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. The trick isn't to wave goodbye to these foods — which are good for you — altogether. Rather, build your consumption up slowly by eating very small amounts of each at first, then trying if you can handle more.
Sodas, which aren't just carbonated but also contain sugar alcohol sweeteners, are another common culprit of bloating. Since they're nothing but empty calories, it's best to cut sodas from your diet completely.
Meanwhile, don't forget that swallowing air, which happens both when you chew gum and when you just eat too quickly, can also contribute to gas. Chew carefully and stay away from gum.
More Tips To Prevent Abdominal Bloating
Common wisdom dictates that excess salt consumption is one of the primary causes of abdominal bloating. Most people would be wrong, however: the associated "water weight" tends to stick around the feet and ankles rather than the abdomen. At the same time, however, the processed foods so many of us rely on contain more sodium than you could ever imagine without specifically looking it up. You definitely shouldn't be consuming more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily — and that's very much the upper limit.
Not only will cutting back on salt potentially decrease your bloating, it's definitely good for your overall health.
Most of us get constipated sometimes, and a lack of fiber in our diet is usually the cause. Eating plenty of fiber is really beneficial for your overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease, bowel cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It also helps your digestive system run smoothly so you can keep constipation and resulting abdominal bloating and discomfort at bay.
To up your fiber intake, make sure you get your five portions of fruit and veg a day. Mind you, avoid eating too many of those notorious "gassy" foods if you are already bloated. Also, start the day with a fiber-rich cereal breakfast and consume whole-grain products whenever you can.
Eating Smaller Meals More Often
Sometimes, abdominal bloating is the result of nothing more than eating too much, but not often enough. The popular template of eating three big meals a day simply doesn't work well for everyone. Why not try switching over to four or even five smaller meals a day for a while, and seeing whether it makes any difference to the state of your abdomen? This way, you can get the nutrients and calories your body depends on without over-extending your stomach at any given time.
If you want some extra bloat-fighting super powders, you could always, as well as avoiding things that make you bloated, take some proactive steps. Pineapple, water melon, garlic, probiotic yogurt, and citrus fruits all have properties that cause them to aid digestion in such as way as to prevent bloating. Water, again, is another simple yet powerful anti-bloat agent.
Could You Have A Medical Condition?
So, you've tried all the previous tips and you are still bloated? Under normal circumstances, that shouldn't happen. Persistent abdominal distention despite taking steps to avoid it could signal a more serious condition like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, food allergies or intolerances, or even ovarian cancer. In this boat, then, it's best to make contact with your family doctor as soon as you can for further diagnosis.