4 Ways to Stop Belly Bloating Forever
Don’t you hate that feeling of a distended stomach? You just ate and now you feel like you have to unbutton your pants. It is so uncomfortable to feel your belly swell up like a balloon. Bloating is one of the most common complaints I hear from clients. I get it – I don’t like it either!
In the US, 15-30% of the population suffers from bloating. The most common cause of bloating is believed to be excess air in the digestive tract. The reasons for the excess air can be varied. It can be due to food sensitivities, an imbalance in intestinal bacteria, or poor digestion. It can also be due to ingesting gaseous foods.
Another common cause of bloating is constipation. When you can get your bowels working regularly, you will find the belly distention may alleviate.
In summary, the four most common issues causing bloating are:
1. Food sensitivity and poor digestion
2. Imbalance in intestinal bacteria
3. Gas introduction
Read more about studies on the causes of bloating at:
Let’s talk a little more about each of these most common issues.
1. Food Sensitivity and Poor Digestion
Everyone’s digestion works a little differently. This is where it can be complicated to determine the cause of bloating. The reason for bloating can be different from person to person as their digestion is affected differently by foods and environment.
FODMAPs - For some people they have a sensitivity to a certain type of carbohydrate called FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols). When people with this sensitivity eat foods containing FODMAPs they can experience severe bloating and other abdominal issues. One study of people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) found that a diet low in FODMAPs was helpful to reduce bloating.
You can read the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27664186
Food Sensitivities – Due to the world we live in with environmental toxins, stress, and processed foods, more people are experiencing food sensitivities. This can be due to a weakening of the tight junctions between cells in the intestines. This situation creates something called “leaky gut” where food particles can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This can cause you to develop a sensitivity to certain foods resulting in bloating.
The best way to determine if food sensitivities are an issue is through an elimination diet. When I help clients with an elimination diet, we first eliminate all common allergens and then reintroduce foods systematically to understand the effects. After not eating the sensitive foods for a period of time, the gut can sometimes heal and you may be able to eat foods again which were once a problem.
Poor Digestion – Poor digestion can cause excess gas. Many different factors can affect our digestion. What we eat, when we eat, and even stress can affect our digestion. Certain foods are notoriously more difficult to digest and can cause gas. Foods like legumes and cruciferous vegetables create bloating for some people. There are ways to incorporate these healthy foods into your diet in ways that minimize bloating.
2. Inbalance in Intestinal Bacteria
This is a big one. Our digestive tract has over 500 species of microbiota. Some of these bacteria help with carbohydrate fermentation in the intestines. A byproduct of the fermentation is gas production. When you have the optimum balance of “good” and “bad” bugs in your gut, the gas is not a problem. If you start to have too many “bad” bugs, then the gas can become excessive. Breath or urine tests can be done to determine if you have an inbalance in these bugs and possibly conditions like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or Candidiasis, which could be causing your bloating.
3. Gas Introduction
Another route to excess gas is through introduction to body in consumption. Drinking seltzer or other carbonated beverages can cause some people to experience bloating. Chewing gum can cause gas introduction as well as vigorous chewing of other foods. In addition to the mechanical introduction of gas through chewing, many gums contain alcohol sugars as sweeteners, which can create gas problems for some sensitive eople. You can easily test whether these things are a problem by eliminating them and noticing if your bloating is reduced.
Constipation can cause the belly to become distended and feel bloated. There are many health reasons to eliminate constipation and the uncomfortable bloating is just one of them. Some of the most common remedies for constipation are to increase water and fiber in your diet.
The Institute for Medicine recommends between 21-38 grams of fiber per day depending on your age and sex. Leafy greens are my favorite way to get more fiber. 2 cups of spinach has 6 grams of fiber and if you add on a ½ cup of chickpeas, you get another 7 grams of fiber. If you are not used to eating fiber, you just want to increase gradually to allow your digestive system time to get used to the fiber or you could experience more bloating initially.
Try my Make Ahead Salad ideas for easy ways to add more fiber into your diet:
You should aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. This amount of water will help flush toxins from the body and reduce constipation. Even better, you can add in some digestive soothing herbs like peppermint or ginger.
4 Top Tips for Reducing Bloating
In summary, the top tips to help you avoid bloating by supporting a healthy microbiome, optimal digestion, minimizing introduction of gas, and regular elimination are:
1. Determine any food sensitivities
2. Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners
3. Drink plenty of non-carbonated water and herbal teas
4. Eat healthy fermented foods or take a probiotic
If you are suffering from bloating and would like to explore personalized remedies, reach out and book a free strategy call with me to discuss how we can work together to help you.