So you have been working out and eating right and yet you cannot seem to beat the bloat. After a meal, you feel like your tummy is swollen, like your digestive system is at a stand still and you do not know why. You are stuffed, gassy, and retaining water. Not to mention that it is almost bathing suit season and you are saddled with a stomach that makes you feel self conscious. Bloating has a lot to do with your diet and other factors that might surprise you. Here is how to let the air out of your tummy balloon.
Table Of Contents:
What Causes Bloating?:
Bloating is quite common. According to a study published in the journal Gut bloating was considered a psychological symptom resulting from deliberate or unconscious protrusion of the abdomen, but recent studies have concluded that “abdominal distention” is usually a real phenomenon. It occurs in 16-30 percent of the population regularly. Sometimes it is tied to health conditions, but usually it is the result of diet or just the way we eat. Here are some reasons why you might feel bloated:
- Eating too much. Consumption matters when it comes to reducing the bloat.
- Eating too fast. Not chewing your food well enough so it can be broken down and digested.
- Food allergies. Food allergies, especially an allergy to gluten or dairy, have been shown to increase instances of bloating.
- Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory disease that impacts the gastrointestinal tract. It makes it difficult to digest certain foods, especially roughage like certain vegetables.
- Celiac’s disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is caused by an allergy to gluten. When someone with the condition eats gluten, they can have extreme reactions that may include bloating as well as intense stomach pains, cramping, and diarrhea.
- Constipation. This is a common cause of bloating. If you find that your digestive system is not doing the work that it needs to and you are having trouble passing a bowel movement, then you might find that you are regularly bloated.
- Gas. Bloating is often caused by gas, a byproduct after the food you eat is broken down into energy and waste. When foods sit in the gut for too long, they may ferment, which causes them to bubble up and turn into gas.
- Diet. Your diet has a lot to do with beating the bloat. If you are bloated constantly, take a look at the foods that you are eating. Some common culprits may include dairy, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, artificial sweeteners, chewing gum, hard candy, and carbonated beverages.
How To Get Rid Of Bloating?:
Not to worry. There are a number of steps that you can take to beat the bloat. Here is what you need to know:
Probiotics help keep the system moving to avoid bloating. The good bacteria helps to break down the undigested foods that are causing your tummy to bloat. A study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that probiotics reduced gas though no difference in bloating was found. Another study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found “probiotics reduce pain and symptom severity scores. The results demonstrate the beneficial effects of probiotics in IBS patients in comparison with placebo.”
Exercise helps to give your digestive system a boost and if constipation is causing you to feel bloated then it may be worth breaking a sweat. A study published in the journal Immunology And Cell Biology found a link between physical exercise and gut health. “Emerging data from our laboratory show that different forms of exercise training differentially impact the severity of intestinal inflammation during an inflammatory insult (for example, ulcerative colitis).”
Read More: The Many Benefits of Resistance Training
3. Avoid Constipation
Constipation is a leading cause of bloating because when you are all stopped up, it is hard to beat the bloat. Avoid it by exercising often, drinking 8-12 cups of filtered water daily, eating fermented foods (like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt), adding in coffee, trying castor oil, and drinking dandelion tea. Also try and kick the habit of eating junk foods which have no nutritional value, too much salt, not enough fiber, and just leave you feeling like a hot air balloon.
4. Add In Digestive Enzymes
Often, the main reason why you are having trouble breaking down certain foods is because you do not have the digestive enzymes to get it done. Add in these enzymes to get the digestive party started in your gut and kiss bloating goodbye.
- Lactase. Lactase is an enzyme that you can take before eating foods with dairy that contain a sugar called lactose. You can also skip all the other forms of dairy and stick to the healthiest choice, yogurt. It often contains many of the probiotics that can serve as enzymes when your stomach does not have enough of them.
- Alpha-galactosidase. This is an enzyme needed to digest a number of hearty fibrous foods like legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains. It is great to take before a meal that you know might make your stomach churn.
5. Turn Upside Down
For Christmas, my husband got me a headstand bench and let me tell you, it is a miracle worker. Not only is it a fabulous addition to my yoga routine, it is also great for reducing bloating. If you do not have a headstand bench, you can also do a handstand against the wall for 20 seconds. Or consider practicing yoga inversion poses like headstand, handstand, shoulderstand, and even legs up the wall pose. All of them will help get digestion moving in the right direction.
I mentioned yoga above, but many poses beyond inversions are also helpful for reducing bloating. Twists are particularly helpful because they compress the digestive organs and bring blood and nutrients to this part of the body. Supine Stag Twist and Revolved Low Lunge are a good place to start. Adding twists to your yoga routine is a great way to keep your system moving effectively and beat the bloat.
After a big meal, walking can be the best medicine. It might be a little embarrassing because you have got a little extra gas in your step but the downward movement is like letting the air out of a balloon. By the end of a good long walk, you will feel better than ever. A study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases found that most after meal walking “accelerated gastric emptying of the meal” without any harmful side effects. Taking a long, slow, and relaxing walk after a meal can help to move digestion along.
8. Avoid Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are artificial sweeteners that are added to a number of foods. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol have been proven to be undigestible. They are found in diet drinks, chewing gum, toothpaste, hard candies, and other foods that are considered sugar-free. It is best to avoid chewing gum because it is a double whammy. It contains artificial sweeteners which are often bloating, and at the same time, chewing causes you to inhale more air which then gets stuck in your gut and causes a distended stomach. A study published in the journal Gastroenterology found that “most subjects experienced mild gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating) after 10 grams of sugar alcohols and severe symptoms (cramps, diarrhea) after 20 grams. The data suggests that the evaluation of patients with “functional” gastrointestinal complaints should include careful inquiry into the use of products containing sorbitol.
9. Avoid Becoming Overfull
“Hara hachi bu” is the Japanese term for avoiding overeating. It is about eating until you are 80 percent full and it is part of the reason that there are 68 centenarians in Okinawa, Japan alone. According to Harvard Health, “research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating.” The best idea is to take your time so your brain can receive the signals from your stomach.
It is easy to overeat. You know that you have eaten too much but you do it anyway. If you tend to make this mistake, know your trigger foods or the foods that you often overeat. For me, that is Tex Mex food. I cannot help it with the chips and the huge portions. I know I have to be extra vigilant when I go in and not be so hungry that I cannot resist. Another tip: at the beginning of each day, I brainstorm what I am going to eat so that I do not end up eating my way through the refrigerator before I have even figured out lunch.
10. Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
There are so many reasons why this is a bad thing. But for the purposes of this article, it is about overeating. A study published in the journal Current Obesity Reports found that “limiting alcohol intake is an obvious means to reduce total energy intake for those who wish to lose weight.” It makes sense. Alcohol is associated with feasts and celebration but it also makes you want to eat more. Another study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that “the effects of wine on appetite are immediate, and stimulate food intake early in the meal.” If you are going to drink, know that it may be a trigger for overeating and try to stay mindful as you eat. Also avoid drinking too much without food which can make you extra hungry or cause you to binge eat.
11. Practice Mindful Eating
Culturally, we tend to overeat because we are not mindful while we are eating. Whether we are in front of the television, eating while driving, eating while working, etc. we are hardly ever aware of what we are enjoying. In many European cultures, they mindfully prepare meals, sit as a family, and even spend much of the conversation chatting about the quality of the food that they are eating. These are all tools for practicing mindful eating. A review published in the journal Obesity Reviews found that 18 studies “support the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions for changing obesity-related eating behaviors, specifically binge eating and emotional eating.” The bottom line: start making a big deal out of meals. Take time to chew, taste, smell, and enjoy the textures of the foods that you are eating. When you feel 80 percent full, put your fork down and take a few minutes to allow your brain to register that you are completely full. You will be glad you did.