There are various reasons for bloating and distention, but there are practical tips you can start applying today to start experiencing some relief, and begin to feel re-energized.
You may start your day off with a flat belly, but by the end of the day you feel like you look 6 months pregnant. Bloating can be so frustrating, uncomfortable, painful, and seems to suck up most of your energy. Let's first look at some causes of bloating to identify consider the root cause.
WHAT IS BLOATING?
Bloating is when your belly(abdomen) feels full and tight, often due to swallowed air or trapped gas due to intestinal fermentation, or disturbances of the movement of muscles of the intestinal tract. Bloating can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for people, and can make your belly look bigger.
CAUSES of BLOATING:
Bloating is a common symptom that is caused for various reasons. Slight bloating is normal, but bloating that is painful and consistent can be from:
Constipation is when stool passes through your large bowel with difficulty. Symptoms of constipation are:
Straining to have a bowel movement.
Feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels.
Hard and lumpy or pebble like stools
Infrequent bowel movements (usually anything less than 3 times per week)
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):
If you have IBS, you may be more sensitive to bloating due to increased intestinal fermentation. This can often be due to certain short chain carbohydrate foods that may trigger bloating, but these food triggers vary person to person.
3. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO):
Although we all have a small amount of bacteria in our small intestines, with SIBO there is an abnormal amount of bacteria in the small intestine that can lead to bloating, increased gas, diarrhea or constipation.
4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
IBD is inflammation to the lining of the intestinal tract such as Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis. The inflammation can cause a feeling of distention and is very painful during a flare up.
Is slowed movement of the stomach muscles that can cause a delay of food moving through your intestines.
6. Gynecological Conditions:
The changes of your hormones during your menstrual cycle can cause bloating. As well as other conditions such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts also cause pain and a sensation of bloating.
5 PRACTICAL TIPS TO PREVENT BLOATING:
1. Chew your food well:
This helps to break food down more. Swallowing larger portions of food likely causes you to swallow more air. By taking the time to eat slower, you will likely get fuller faster to also keep portion sizes small.
In addition, limit the amount of air you swallow by avoiding chewing gum, carbonated beverages or even drinking with a straw.
2. Try Low FODMAP Diet:
FODMAP is a group of sugars that are not completely digested or absorbed in our intestines.
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
Fermentable Oligosaccharides (wheat, garlic, onion, rye, legumes, lentils) Disaccharides (Lactose in milk and milk products) Monosaccharides (mango, honey, high fructose corn syrup) And Polyols (avocado, peaches, cherries, sugar alcohols, cauliflower, cabbage)
When FODMAPs reach our intestines they move slowly attracting water.
Then they move into the large intestines where the gut bacteria ferments the sugars "carbs" causing gas build up, causing a feeling of distention, and pain.
3. Try peppermint tea or enteric coated capsules:
Peppermint can speed up gastric emptying by relaxing the muscles that allow gas to pass.
IBS the nerves become super sensitive in your colon, so mint has a calming effecting reducing the spasms.
If taking the capsule make sure it is enteric coated. This ensures that the stomach juices don't break it down.
4. Gentle Movement such as Yoga poses or walking:
Moving your body can cause mechanical stimulation of your digestive system. Doing gentle exercises is gentler on the stomach than high intensity exercises where it is more jarring.
5. Keep a food journal:
As I mentioned above, bloating is caused from a variety of reasons. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be for you and your health professional to treat you.
To keep a journal, I recommend writing down: -Your mood for the day. -How well you slept. -What you ate, and the serving size. -Track what you drank and the serving size. -Track all your symptoms (bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, constipation, etc) -Click here for my free IBS Journal handout.
I hope you find these practical tips helpful to ease your bloating. If your bloating persists, I encourage you to follow up with your doctor to identify the cause and targeted therapies.