We’ve all experienced bloating – that unpleasant feeling of ballooning up and being overly full. It’s uncomfortable at best and downright painful at worst – so what’s causing it, and what can you do about it?
Why am I bloating?
Bloating is basically a build up of gas or fluid, causing a swollen abdomen – that’s why you can sometimes end up looking like you’ve swallowed a balloon! There’s loads of reasons why this happens, so we’ll look at a few of the most common:
Overeating – This one should be obvious! Overeating leads to an overly full stomach, and eating too quickly can lead to overeating. This is because your stomach’s “I’m full” signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain.
Eating rich, fatty foods – This is all down to the science of digestion. Long story short, fat digests more slowly than protein or carbs, meaning it sits in your gut for longer.
Gas in the stomach – You can end up with gas in your stomach due to lots of things – chewing gum and fizzy drinks being the main culprits! If you have issues with bloating you might want to try something like turmeric probiotic as it could help with those issues.
Dehydration – This slows down your digestion, backing you up and causing bloating by fluid retention. Your body realises it’s getting dehydrated and tries to hold onto any water that it can to help keep you hydrated.
Hormones – The dreaded time of the month – it already messes with your emotions and causes you pain, why is bloating added like an awful cherry on top? Progesterone (the hormone released during a period) slows down your gut movements, causing both gas and fluid retention.
Digestive Disorders – 70,000,000 people suffer from digestive issues everyday – from IBS to celiac disease. This along with food intolerances can cause serious bloating, amongst other side effects.
Foods to avoid
Now you know why you end up with a swollen stomach, you might want to know how you can avoid it in the future. There are certain foods you can avoid if you’re trying to beat the bloat – allow Fitmo to enlighten you!
Cruciferous Vegetables – a scary looking word, but it basically means certain types of green vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage and kale to name a few. They all contain an indigestible sugar – when it sticks around, it can cause bloating. Don’t worry, you don’t have to cut them out altogether – if you think they may be a source of bloating, just cut back.
Beans – These also contain indigestible sugars – they also contain lots of fibre though, which helps aid digestion. As the saying goes “beans, beans, good for your heart…”. If you can’t give up beans, eating them regularly should cause your digestive system to get used to them.
Dairy – Around 70% of people are lactose intolerant to some extent. Most humans lose the ability to digest lactase after baby-hood, but not all have severe lactose intolerance! For example, if you are are a big coffee drinker, are lactose intolerant but still have milk in your coffee, Meet JoeFroyo. With lactose free milk, you will now be able to enjoy coffee much more easily, without the feeling of an upset stomach. If your intolerance to dairy is much more serious, try keeping a food diary to see how much dairy affects you.
Salty Food – Too much sodium causes your body to hold onto water for dear life – which can cause you to swell up if you’re not careful.
Junk Food – We’ve talked about too much salt, but junk food is usually loaded with sugar too – the two combined can wreak havoc on sensitive digestive systems! Not only can it cause bloating, but cramps to go along with it – thanks, but no thanks.
What can I do about it?
Whether your bloating is due to a digestive disorder, hormones or just the type of food you eat, it’s something that most of us would like to get rid of. Luckily there are many different things you can try in your quest to beat the bloat, and here are the most popular:
Probiotics or Supplements – Probiotics (like those found in drinkable yoghurts) keep a healthy balance in your gut and supplements like Beano aid digestion – both of which will help with bloating.
Herbs – Ginger and fennel are great for digestive problems. Not only do they help the body release excess fluid, they also relax the gut muscles! A double does of calm for your stomach.
Potassium-rich Foods – Foods that are packed with potassium have the added bonus of regulating your sodium levels, so they help your body to stop retaining water. Think bananas, avocados and pistachios.
Asparagus – It’s known for making you pee – but this time it’s a good thing! Asparagus will help your body to flush out all the excess water it’s storing.
Peppermint or Chamomile Tea – Both of these varieties of tea are good for your digestive health, as they both relax your gut muscles. As an added plus, chamomile aids digestion too!
De–stress – Easier said than done, but stress affects your body in many ways – one of which is slowing your digestion. So relax and un-bloat!
Low FODMAP diet – If you struggle with bloating as a side effect of a digestive disorder like IBS, it can be an everyday struggle. FODMAPs (The full name is too mind-boggling to even look at!) are a group of carbohydrates that can irritate the bowel. If you cut these out of your diet, abdominal pain and bloating could be a thing of the past – but only try this if your symptoms are severe, as it’s a big lifestyle change to implement.
Bloating can be a massive pain in the… stomach. Hopefully with this quick guide, you’ve gained some tips to beat the bloat and feel a little more comfortable in your own skin. What are your best tips to beat the bloat?