Bloating or abdominal bloating is a condition where the mid-section of your body appears full, even though you might not have excess fat deposited there. In fact, not only does the belly appear visibly swollen, but you will also feel the fullness too. You will feel uncomfortable and tight there. Sometimes, the area could pain a bit. Bloating makes the jeans appear slightly tighter. It puffs up the stomach with gas and makes you feel very uncomfortable.
Bloating is actually quite a common condition. Across the world anywhere between 10% and 30% adults from suffer from bloating at different times in their lives. It could happen to anybody. It might seem to go away for a while, but will surely return if you will leave it untreated.
Doctors generally suggest that the problem has to be treated urgently as bloaters lead to more sick leaves. It can seriously interfere with a person’s ability to work. It can also come in the way of your recreational or social activities. Bloating can indeed have a negative impact on the quality of your life.
What Causes Bloating?
Here are some of the most common causes of bloating,
- Excessive gas in the intestine.
- Swallowing too much air.
- Intolerance to some foods such as dairy products.
- Consuming food too quickly.
- Increased sensitivity to what’s happening in your digestive tract.
- Sudden weight gain.
- Increased curvature in the spine’s lumbar lordosis region that reduces the gas holding ability of your abdomen.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
- Eating too much of fatty foods have also been blamed, as this can delay stomach emptying. You will thus feel full.
- Having too many carbonated beverages.
- Anxiety or stress.
- A reaction to taking a medicine, like oral diabetes pills.
- Sometimes antibiotics are known to cause bloating.
Abdominal bloating could also be a symptom of a serious medical condition.
- Some kind of insufficiency in the pancreas because of which it is not able to make digestive enzymes adequately. This is disturbing the digestion process and thus causing bloating.
- Fluid deposition inside the abdominal cavity because of kidney problem or liver disease.
- Structural or anatomical abnormality inside your gastrointestinal tract.
- A gastrointestinal disease or infection.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Celiac disease.
- Dumping syndrome.
- A tumor.
- Heartburn – You can have heartburn by taking spicy foods in the night, and even by eating too much food just before bed-time. So limit your food intake. Also, keep it simple. And don’t go to bed immediately after your meal. Walk for 30 minutes before hitting the bed. If you still have heartburn, then keep a pillow behind your back to keep yourself raised. This should help.
Sometimes, the bloating is just a by-product or symptom of a serious health crisis, like a tumor, cancer, celiac disease or something else. In such a case, you have to first treat the illness naturally. It will be almost impossible to get rid of the bloating without treating the condition first. And anyway, treating such medical conditions should always be your priority. They are much more serious in nature, and can even be life threatening.
It’s good to remember that the degree or severity of bloating is always different for different people. Also, do keep in mind that a factor that caused bloating to your friend might have zero effect on you. Of course, it could be the other way round as well. But whatever it is, don’t ignore bloating if you have it. Always remember, this could be a sign of some serious medical condition. So why take the chance? Try to detect the symptoms early, and get yourself properly diagnosed.
Symptoms of Bloating
Sometimes the symptoms of bloating are precise, but at other times they could be vague.
This is a condition in which there is abnormal fluid buildup inside the pelvis or abdomen. This can cause your waistline to go up rapidly. In fact, in extreme cases, there is so much bloating that you could look several months pregnant. Usually, it is a liver disease that causes Ascites. However in 10% of reported cases, it is from cancer.
Sudden weight loss
– Have you lost some weight suddenly without any apparent reason? This could be a symptom of bloating. Watch out if the weight loss is about 10% of your overall body weight or more. This weight loss could be from a tumor that is pressing down on your intestines, thus making you feel full. It could also be from a secretion by the tumor.
Severe pain in the abdomen
A sudden severe pain in your mid-section could be a symptom, particularly if you have the feeling of nausea with it. This could be from an obstruction in your bowel, as a scarred tissue is pressing the bowel. You need to seek immediate medical attention. Don’t delay. The pain you feel could come in waves.
A fever, even without the signs of tightness or fullness in the abdomen might indicate that you are in the early stages of bloating. This could be from an inflammation or infection.
There can be some other symptoms too, such as blood in the stool or extremely dark stool, diarrhea, excessive vaginal bleeding, bleeding from the vagina after menopause, and heartburn.
The Best Ways to Prevent Bloating
You have to do three things to prevent bloating.
A) Eat the right foods.
B) Eat food in the right way.
C) Do away with the bloating habits
A. Eating the Right Foods
- Limit your intake of fatty and processed foods – We know that such foods are bad for health anyway. And besides, the digestion system requires more time to digest high-sugar and high-fat foods. This will make you feel full.
- Avoid frozen and sugar-free foods – There are a lot of preservatives in frozen foods. There is usually a lot of salt too, and they both can give you abdominal bloating. Actually, you have to stay away from sugar-free foods as well, as their sugar alcohol content can grow bacteria in your intestine. This will give you gas, and eventually bloating.
- Eat a lot of fibers – Fiber is good for health. Fill your diet with a lot of fibers, drink plenty of fluids, and relieve yourself regularly. You should do just fine. But remember to get your fiber from natural sources, like apples, pears, raspberries, broccoli, peas, barley, bran, and spaghetti. They are all good. However having said this, fiber may not be the right solution for you if you have constipation, as this might worsen your bloating.
- Avoid foods that cause gas – Try to identify the foods that creates gas issues for you. As a general guideline, the following foods lead to gas buildup in most people – cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans and such others. But remember, they are still good for health, so don’t remove these foods altogether from your diet plan. Just take them with moderation. Also, reduce your consumption of carbohydrates. When muscles in the body store glycogen, which is a type of carbohydrate, it will also store water in one to three ratios, glycogen to water. So by cutting the consumption of carbohydrates, you will be reducing water storage in your body.
- Select your beverages carefully – Of course, water is always good for you. But surely, you want more. You can drink tea, even better if it is green tea. Tea will reduce your appetite, and it also comes with an ant-bloating agent. Flavored drinks are yummy and can be healthy if you make a juice from a fruit. But stay away from soda. The bubbles stay in your stomach and cause gas within the intestines. Plus, acidic drinks irritate the gastrointestinal tract, making it swell. This makes you feel bloated. Avoid drinks made from sugar substitutes like xylitol and mannitol.
- Cook vegetables always before eating – Green vegetables are good for health, but make sure that you eat after cooking. You might face problems in digesting raw vegetables. Also, the process of cooking will remove some of the enzymes and fibers that can upset your stomach and cause bloating. Steam your vegetables for best results. You will lose very few nutrients this way.
- Avoid hot spices – Spices like chili powder and black pepper can release more stomach acid. Vinegar and hot sauces achieve much the same result. Too much of acid secretion will irritate your stomach, worsening your bloating.
- Limit the intake of salt – Salt causes bloating. If you have a lot of salt in your body, then it will cling to the water. The human body requires just 200 mg sodium in a day. But there is 2,300 mg of this in 1 teaspoon. So do you see how much more we take? And of course, too much salt in the diet can be hard for your blood vessels and heart, and that can be scary.
- Take anti-bloating foods –Tomatoes, nuts, mangoes, spinach, bananas, cantaloupe, and asparagus are all good. There is potassium in them, a mineral with a lot of asparagines, which is a natural diuretic. They can help you beat bloating. Potassium is going to regulate the fluid content in your body. It balances your level of sodium. You can eat parsley and peppermint – both these herbs can treat bloating very efficiently.
- Gain from probiotics – These is a kind of good bacteria, which is used for regulating our digestive system. And naturally, you are less likely to have bloating if your digestive tract is well regulated. Bacterial imbalance within the intestine is a cause of bloating. Try yogurt. It is the most readily available probiotics. There are also some health supplements.
B. Eating Food in the Right Way
Bloating happens in the abdomen region, and naturally eating has a lot to do with it. So it is important to eat the right foods to reduce the risks of bloating. No worries if you have bloating already, because you can get rid of it by selecting the right foods. But remember, just the food selection might not be enough. You have to eat your food in the right way as well.
- Take your time – Eat slowly always. Take your time. We need to chew our food well before swallowing as this helps in proper digestion. Your body is able to use the nutrients better. However sadly, many of us are simply gulping down our meals now as there is simply not enough time. A lot of people even have their foods on the go. A rush meal is certainly a bad habit. You can end up swallowing air if you take food too quickly, and this air can then get trapped within you, causing bloating. Plus, the body’s satiety hormones simply don’t have enough time to kick-in unless you are sitting down for your food. You might end up over-eating.
- Eat often, but little each time – Smaller quantities of food is going to be kinder to your tummy. As a bonus, this is also going to be good for your waistline. But you need to eat more often. Get 4-5 small meals in a day instead of three large ones. You won’t feel hungry. Your metabolism too won’t be pressurized to go on an overload suddenly if you have a large meal. After all, you are supposed to feel good after eating, not exhausted. 4-5 small meals are going to be just perfect. Your body will function smoothly.
- Avoid eating late in the night – Sometimes we keep snacking late into the night while reading a book or seeing a movie. Too much of this could be bad news for you. Particularly restrict your carbohydrates consumption. If you take a lot of food late in the night, then you will feel puffy in the morning. That’s because, your body will retain water throughout the night, making you feel like a sponge in the morning. Take a light dinner. If you have to take a big meal, then make it the lunch. That way, you will have a lot of time to work it off from the system.
- Stop using that straw – In fact, you should stop using anything that takes air inside your body. You will have too much air inside you if you use things like the straw. Your body must do something with this – it turns the air into gas and bloating.
C. Doing Away With Bloating Habits
- Are you allergic to any food – Food allergies can cause bloating, and so you need to watch out for anything that might make you feel that tightness in the midsection. Many people are allergic to dairy products. Others cannot tolerate wheat, particularly gluten. Some individuals are allergic to eggs, corn, soy, nuts, and legumes. Most of them don’t realize that it’s their food allergy that is causing the bloating. Then there are those who self-diagnose, and end up doing this wrongly. As a result, they remove several healthy foods from their diets. It’s best to approach a doctor for a confirmation. Try dairy foods with low lactose content. Go for yogurt and aged cheese to see whether they are working for you.
- Quit smoking – Smoking is a really bad habit. It kills you slowly over time. Smoking is known to cause many health issues like atherosclerosis, lung cancer, breathing problems, and even heart ailments. It will leak you money too. Do you need any more reasons? So stop smoking if you are currently into it. When you smoke, a lot of air gets inside your system, even though you are exhaling out. And this can cause bloating.
- Beat the stress – Most of us have too much stress in our lives now, and some of this is almost inevitable, given the pressures of the modern lifestyle. Try to relax as much as you can, as anxiety and stress can cause bloating, besides causing other health conditions as well. When you are stressed, the cortisol hormone increases your cravings for sugars and fats. Both yoga and meditation can help here, as they can lower the cortisol level. Just 15 minutes in a day – that’s all you have to give. Or you can try a simple breathing exercise. That will also cut your stress. Go on a small vacation if you can. You will have a nice break and come back refreshed.
- Do some workouts – We all realize that exercise is good for us, but still, many choose to lead a sedentary and unhealthy life. Change this habit. Go to the gym and exercise. You can also do some brisk walking, running, jogging, cycling or swimming. All these activities are sure to help. Biking for just 30 minutes a day will give your entire body a great workout. That doesn’t take too long? Does it! The fact is that, even moderate exercise will reduce your bloating substantially, as it will regulate the passage of air and food inside your digestive system. You will lose calories and stay lean and trim. Plus, you will also sleep better at night.
5 Home Remedies to get rid of Bloating
1. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint works very well in soothing the stomach and easing pains from gas. There is menthol in peppermint essential oil. This menthol has antispasmodic effect on the muscles of your digestive track. Take a cup after dinner. You will prevent bloating. You will also sleep better.
- Herbal peppermint tea – 1 bag.
- Freshly boiled water – 1 cup.
- Boil the water first.
- Now pour this boiled water over the tea bag in a mug.
- Cover the mug and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cover and bring out the tea bag.
- Squeeze the bag to bring out your peppermint tea.
2. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is also an excellent home remedy for bloating. This herbal tea has both anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. It will give relief to your stomach. It will also heal your heartburn, which again is a prime cause of bloating. Chamomile tea is extremely popular in Germany. In fact, it is so good that in Germany they call it “alles zutraut”, which means “capable of doing anything”. You can drink this tea 2 to 3 times in a day between meals. Don’t add milk.
- Chamomile tea – 1 bag.
- Boiled water – 1 cup.
- Lemon juice – 2 to 3 drops.
- Honey – 1 tablespoon.
- Boil the water
- Pour the boiled water gently over the tea bag into a mug.
- Cover the mug and let it stay for 10-15 minutes.
- Now squeeze the bag to bring out the tea.
- Add the honey or lemon juice. There is no need to add both.
Ginger can also help you reduce bloating and gas. There are several active ingredients here, such as shogaols and gingerols that bring down intestinal inflammation. These ingredients are going to soothe the muscles of your intestine as well.
- Ginger – Five to six thin slices.
- Freshly boiled water – 1 cup.
- Lemon juice – 2 to 3 drops.
- Honey – 1 tablespoon.
- Keep the thin ginger slices in a cup.
- Pour boiling water into the cup.
- Cover your cup and let it stay for 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and honey.
- Stir well.
Improper food digestion can cause gas buildup and bloating. Foods that have a lot of fibers like beans for instance, can cause flatulence. Fiber passes through our stomach in bulk when we are unable to digest it properly. Food passes to the large intestine when we are unable to break it in the small intestine. The body’s natural bacteria will then feed on it in the large intestine, and that’s where the gas is formed. Pumpkin is good for you, as it can cut the amount of gas produced.
- Pumpkin – 1 cup.
- You can either steam or bake your pumpkin.
- Cut into small pieces.
- Take the pumpkin with your meals. You may also have it as a snack between the meals.
It is a well known fact that constipation can cause bloating. Bananas can reduce this constipation and provide you relief. Bananas contain a lot of potassium as well, which is a mineral that regulates the body’s fluid level and prevents bloating.
Take a banana everyday for best results, till at least you see significant improvement in your bloating. There are some wonderful recipes you can choose from. You can prepare a salad or have your daily banana in the dessert.
Bloating is not life threatening, but it’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling. It can also be embarrassing. Luckily, you can get rid of bloating with just a few simple food and lifestyle changes. That can make a huge difference.