The National Library of Medicine defines bloating as ‘a sense of gassiness or a feeling of being distended, measurably.’ It is an issue everyone experiences sometimes in their lifetime and is different from gas. It is the uncomfortable feeling in your stomach due to trapped gas in your gastrointestinal tract (GI). When you face this issue, you will feel like you ate a large meal and there is no leftover space in your stomach. To put it simply, you will feel full in your upper abdomen, and such a situation can be both uncomfortable and painful.
Some studies say that the issue is generally short-term and mainly caused by having too large a meal, a small meal, or gas-producing food. Some other causes of bloating also include having food too quickly, constipation, diarrhoea, hormonal changes, lactose intolerance, etc.
If the bloating you are facing is merely a gas problem, there is nothing you have to worry about. You can get relief from such an issue by following some simple and effective remedies to get rid of it. You may have to start by bringing some changes to your diet and improving your eating habits.
The Causes of Bloating
Bloating is an issue most face when they have excess gas buildup in their stomach or intestines. If you feel bloated right after a meal, it will resolve itself, and you can go for a walk to fix the problem. Here are some of the major causes of bloating.
Build up of Gas
If you feel bloated right after a meal, there are indigestion issues in your stomach, leading to gas buildup in your gut. Also, if you have a large meal or too small a meal, your stomach may find it difficult to properly digest it, leading to gas filling up in your stomach. Gas buildup in the digestive tract can also occur when undigested food gets broken down or because of unconsciously having swallowed a lot of air.
Sometimes bloating occurs because of an unhealthy diet. Including fizzy drinks or aerated drinks in your diet is one of the essential food items that cause bloating. Consuming excessive salty or sugary food items or not having enough fibre rich foods in your diet can also cause bloating.
Bloating is a common symptom of constipation. When your bowel movement is irregular and straining to pass your hard stools, you know you are constipated. It will make your stomach feel full as your intestines get filled with faecal matter, making it one of the common causes of abdominal pains. The bloating situation might also get worse if constipation lasts for long.
Eating or Drinking Too Quickly
We must maintain a moderate pace while chewing and swallowing foods and drinking beverages. Quickly swallowing food or liquids will lead to taking in a lot of air. This air will get trapped in your gut and cause bloating. The ingested air makes eating food and downing something a common culprit of bloating.
Using Chewing Gum Excessively
While chewing gum is not particularly dangerous unless swallowed, excessive chewing gums can cause bloating. While chewing gum, you might swallow a lot of air that will reach your gut. This air, in turn, becomes trapped gas in your abdomen, making you feel bloated.
Menstruation or Similar Hormonal Changes
Bloating is a common symptom amongst menstruating women, often accompanied by stomach cramps. It is the most common hormonal change and causes bloating as menstruation causes water retention, leading to an unpleasant situation.
Underlying Medical Conditions
Bloating can also be a symptom of any other medical conditions you may have faced. For example, some diseases that cause bloating as a symptom include irritable bowel syndrome, dumping syndrome, small bowel bacterial overgrowth, ovarian cancer, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and pelvic inflammatory disease, Crohn’s disease, liver disease, etc. Also, bloating can also be a result of certain medicines.
Foods that can Cause Bloating
Specific food items are more likely to cause bloating, especially those included in the FODMAP. Therefore, you should stay informed about them to take them in appropriate quantities.
Studies claim that consuming high-fat food items like onion rings or fried chicken can cause bloating. Also, such food items are hard to digest. So, if you are consuming such food items, indigestion might eventually result in bloating. Leaner options like grilled chicken or fish are better, as the amount of fat is relatively less.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, etc., contain lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar that is hard to digest. It is the key reason behind many people being lactose intolerant. When these sugars don’t get effectively digested, they result in issues like bloating, stomach cramps, etc. So, if you are looking to get rid of bloating, you should avoid dairy products.
Studies confirm that legumes like dry beans and lentils can lead to bloating. In addition, such food items contain high amounts of dietary fibre, raffinose. Therefore, eating legumes of large qualities can lead to the accumulation of excessive gas.
Some cruciferous vegetables that belong to the cabbage family, like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, etc., are food items known to cause bloating. Such foods cannot cause bloating in everyone and are also rich in fibre, so one cannot entirely avoid these vegetables. You have to notice and note down how these vegetables affect your bloating, the quantity you take, how you take them, etc., all can be factors that lead to the issue. You have to make changes accordingly and then consume them.
Remedies to Getting Rid of Bloating
In most cases, the bloating you are suffering from may be because of a minor issue and can be cured easily without taking any medications. However, there are some methods and remedies that you can follow to get rid of bloating effectively. Home remedies are a much healthier choice than taking medicines as they all may give you side effects. However, suppose you feel your bloating is not subsiding even after trying the following remedies. In that case, you must consult a doctor to understand the cause of your problem. Also, ensure that there are no other underlying diseases.
If you suspect that a particular food item is the root cause behind your bloating, you must avoid having them. Many people experience bloating after eating foods that contain compounds that are difficult to digest. Some such compounds are fructose, sugar alcohols, raffinose, soluble and insoluble fibres, etc. These undigested compounds will move to the large intestine. Studies have noted that the bacteria try fermenting them here, resulting in excessive gas production. This gas will get trapped in our gut, causing bloating.
Some of the natural food items that studies proved to cause bloating include vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, etc., and fruits like peaches, apples, prunes, pears, etc. Legumes like baked beans, lentils, peas, beans, etc. Whole grains like wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats, etc., also lead to bloating. Other artificially made food items like aerated drinks, soda, chewing gums, and compounds like mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol found in artificial sweeteners are also everyday items that can cause bloating.
All bodies are different, so all the food items above may not cause bloating in everyone. But suppose you notice that their consumption might be the reason for your bloating. In that case, you must limit it immediately and control your diet. You can even maintain a diary to identify which food item is causing problems for you correctly. Studies have proved that this is quite an effective method, and this way, you will not have to follow an over-restrictive diet.
Engaging in activities that can move your body will help get rid of bloating when you feel it. So, when you are feeling bloated, you can take a walk, which will get your bowel moving. Going for a walk and getting your body to move will help release excessive gas and stool.
Even if you are not bloated, you must try to walk after having a large meal to help your digestive system work faster. Otherwise, it may lead to excessive gas buildup in your gut, leading to this gas formation.
Have Peppermint Oil Capsules
Peppermint oil capsules and other supplements available in pharmacies are good for preventing and curing indigestion. It is also effective in curing bloating by clearing any excess gas that may get trapped in our gut. The advertisements for supplements are usually a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its symptoms. But, it can also help get rid of bloating.
Peppermint is capable of relaxing our intestinal muscles. It thus facilitates better bowel movement, which further allows stool and gas to pass more effectively. However, if you are prone to heartburn, you should avoid peppermint and peppermint oil capsules.
Consume Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Our body requires certain enzymes to effectively digest all the compounds and elements in our food. In addition, different compounds and elements may need different enzymes. If you lack these key enzymes, digestion won’t happen properly, leading to bloating.
So, suppose you are low on any of these essential enzymes. In that case, you have to take the enzyme supplements available in any pharmacy externally. First, however, you must consult a doctor, get the issue diagnosed, and then buy the prescribed supplement.
Consume Gas Relief Capsules and Supplements
Excessive gas accumulation in the gut is one of the primary reasons that cause bloating. Many gas relief medicines, like simethicone liquid, can help remove the excess air out of your digestive tract. However, you should only use these if your doctor prescribes them and based on the dosage advised.
Methods to Prevent Bloating in the Future
It is always better to prevent issues like these than try hard to get rid of boating and other similar problems. You can easily avoid bloating by bringing slight dietary changes, exercising more, etc. Here are some of the methods you can follow to prevent bloating in the future.
You must fully concentrate on the food while you are eating. Table manners and eating manners like ‘do not talk while eating’ that we teach children are not just to teach them basic manners or etiquette. It is also because having other diversions while eating can negatively impact your digestion.
You must eat slowly to avoid swallowing too much air, which may result in the formation of excessive gas in your digestive tract. You must also chew properly and not just swallow your food. Otherwise, it can lead to indigestion, which, in turn, may lead to bloating.
You must stay hydrated and drink water before and after your meals. You can also track the amount of water you have every day and bring improvements in the quantity of water if required. Dehydration can lead to bloating in your abdomen and other body areas like your ankles. However, you should make sure never to drink water while having food. Drinking a lot of water will dilute essential stomach acids required to break down food effectively.
If you notice that some food items in your diet are the root cause of bloating, you can cut off such food items and bring other similar changes to stay healthy. Some studies say that bringing changes in your diet should be the first step in getting rid of bloating and avoiding it in the future. In addition, you can try following a low-FODMAP diet, which many claim to be a successful choice, to get rid of the issue in the long term.
FODMAP is the acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. A low-FODMAP diet means you must reduce having food items that consist of these compounds. Some of the food items that contain these compounds include wheat, beans, onions, garlic, lactose in dairy products, apples, pears, chewing gums, candies, etc.
You must also avoid drinking aerated drinks if you are someone who has them in plenty. They contain compressed carbohydrates to preserve these drinks and produce fizz. Drinking them in plenty and quickly can be a root cause of bloating.
Maintain a Diary or Journal
Please keep track of the food items you eat and then note their effects on your body. It can help in preventing bloating in the future. Using a journal or diary to avoid such foods and deciding your palate accordingly is good. You can easily follow it while also changing your diet to prevent bloating effectively.
Exercise for Bloating: Does it Work?
Exercise is an excellent remedy to get rid of bloating. Several studies prove the effectiveness of exercising as a cure for bloating. This research demonstrated that engaging in mild physical activities helps in reducing symptoms of bloating amongst individuals. For example, going for short walks around your house while feeling bloated can help reduce the issue and maybe eliminate it.
Exercises like walking and other mild physical activities are good for getting rid of bloating and can help improve your physical and mental health to great lengths. Therefore, everyone, especially regular victims of bloating, must engage themselves in activities like walking, and light jogging, for at least 30 minutes daily.
Bloating can be an uncomfortable issue that disrupts your daily life and activities. The causes of such an issue can either be simple or serious ones. It can be caused either due to indigestion, accumulation of gas in the gut, or more severe problems like an underlying disease. You can get rid of this in most cases by modifying your diet and updating it with healthier food choices or by exercising lightly. If you feel like it’s severe or if you notice that the bloating is not going away, even after trying all the remedies for a prolonged time, you must consult a doctor.
While bloating is a mere gas issue in your gut, studies have confirmed that it can be long-term. In some cases, bloating can be a symptom of a chronic problem that the person may face, likely affecting the quality of life. Bloating is also a common symptom of medical conditions like ovarian cancer, celiac disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What relieves bloating fast?
A. Walking or light jogging are remedies that you can use to relieve bloating fast. However, to get rid of bloating in the long term, one should bring necessary changes in their diet. You can do it by reducing the consumption of those foods that you suspect are causing your bloating.
Q. How do I debloat my body?
A. Some of the remedies that you can use to debloat your body include drinking a lot of water, considering the intake of fibre-rich foods, mindfully eating, etc. Exercising is also an excellent method to debloat your body.
Q. Does drinking water help with bloating?
A. Drinking water and staying hydrated can help to get rid of bloating. This remedy is especially effective when the bloating you face is because of excessive sodium in your body.
Q. Does bloating cause weight gain?
A. No, bloating, in general, is the temporary accumulation of gas in your abdomen, which may lead to a quick enlargement of the stomach. However, it does not cause weight gain, and the accumulated gas is merely air that does not possess any mass.
Q. What causes belly bloat?
A. The most common cause of belly bloat is the accumulation of excess intestinal gas. If you feel bloated after having food, especially large meals, it might be because of indigestion.
Q. Is it normal to bloat?
A. It is quite a standard issue that occurs due to the trapping of excessive gas in your gut. However, it can also be the symptom of some other severe underlying disease. So, while it is pretty normal, you should consult a doctor if your bloating lasts longer than it should.
Q. Does putting your legs up help in bloating?
A. Keeping the legs up while feeling bloated and then relaxing in this position can help get rid of bloating. In addition, doing so will likely shift the gravitational pull to our digestive system, which can help in reinstating bowel movements.
Q. How do you massage away bloating?
A. You can do abdominal self-massage to get rid of bloating. First, you have to start the massaging from the bone of the pelvis on the right side of your stomach. You have to use circular movements and should lightly massage up until you reach the rib bones. Next, you have to move straight towards the left side, using circular movements. Next, move downwards to the hip bone and the belly button. Continue the process for two to three minutes to massage away your bloating effectively.
Q. Does lemon water reduce bloating?
A. Yes, lemon water can reduce bloating. The liquid contains minerals that promote healthy digestion and can also act as a diuretic which can help when you are retaining liquid.