5 Most common reasons for feeling bloated

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5 Most common reasons for feeling bloated

Very few if any of us have not felt the feeling of being bloated.  This fairly common condition is often due to overindulging in too much food at any given meal.  But what if you are experiencing belly bloat a lot?  One in 10 Americans state they suffer from bloating regularly, even if they haven’t eaten a large meal.  Descriptions of belly bloat can range from distention to a perceptible swelling of the abdomen.

Whatever the cause is from, very few of us want a perpetually extended belly and would rather know how to get rid of bloating once and for all.  Granted, bloating and gas that often goes along with it, are usually tied to what and how you eat, so often a few simple changes can make a huge difference going from belly bloat to a flatter belly.

There are five common causes of bloating that tend to be the main reason for this to occur:

1.  Overeating – this would be the most common cause and would make the most sense. If you find yourself always eating more than you need at a meal to the point of feeling stuffed, this could be your issue.  The solution is to simply eat smaller portions by eating off a smaller plate, slowing way down when eating, or to stop eating when you feel comfortable full but not overly stuffed.

2.  Eating too many rich and fatty foods – Not only do these foods contain far more calories than plant-based foods, their high fat content takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates so it keeps the stomach extended and full longer.  Cut out desserts, high fat meats, and rich pastas with sauce and choose instead at least five servings daily of fruits and vegetables.

3.  Eating too fast – When you eat, remember it’s not a race. The remedy here is simple – slow down when eating.  Satiety signals take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain telling it you are full.  Practice by putting your fork down every time you take a bite.  Chew each bite at least 10 times before swallowing.  Become a more mindful eater by having no electronic devices present when eating (no cell phones, laptops, TVs) and learn to savor the flavor, texture, and smell of your food as you eat – it’ll slow you down and you’ll enjoy your eating experience much better.

4.  Too much gas – Excessive gassiness can be a problem for many people.  About half of gas in the digestive system is swallowed air.  The rest is produced by bacteria in the gut that helps digest food.  Gas can build up in the intestines if the gastrointestinal tract does not move efficiently leading to bloating and discomfort.  Tips on reducing gas primarily rely on avoiding things you may be doing introducing too much air into your system:

·      Avoid drinking through a straw

·      Reduce the frequency of chewing gum

·      Avoid guzzling carbonated beverages quickly

·      Avoid sucking on hard candy

5.  Difficult to digest foods – There are certain foods known for causing belly bloat even though many of them are healthy for us.  Here is a list of familiar culprits:

·      Beans – Even though quite healthy for us as good sources of protein and fiber, beans also contain an indigestible sugar called oligosaccharides.  The human body is not able to fully break down this sugar which leads to gassiness.  Since you shouldn’t give up eating beans, to reduce gas from them, try lentils, split peas and canned beans as they tend to be less gas-producing.

·      Certain fruits and vegetables – Again, our bodies benefit greatly from eating produce but Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, prunes, and apricots can be gas producers.  Once again blame the specific sugars and starches they contain that can lead to gas and bloating.  However, don’t forego eating these very healthy foods.  Start by eating very small amounts of these foods every day gradually increasing your tolerance for them.  Or try eating more yogurt, kefir or buttermilk to boost friendly bacteria in your colon.  Taking probiotic supplements, like lactobacillus GG might be an even better way to do this.  Another suggestion is lemon juice with meals or take Beano before eating these gas producing foods. 

·      Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners – These items are commonly found in foods with reduced or no sugar added to provide sweetness with little to no calories.  Sorbitol is an example of a sugar alcohol which can’t be digested.  Fructose, is a natural sugar added to many products but is difficult for many people to digest.  Be aware of these sweeteners in food and limit the amount you consume.

·      Dairy foods – Lactose intolerance is a condition in which a person is unable to fully digest the sugar in milk called lactose.  This can be a source of intestinal distress leading to bloating if you have this condition.  Since dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium, you can buy lactose-free milk, or choose hard cheese or yogurt with bacteria added in which lactose is already broken down.

·      Whole grains – These foods are very beneficial for us but can sometimes cause gas and bloating.  One reason why is whole grains have a high fiber content.  Since fiber is indigestible, anytime you increase the amount of fiber you eat can cause gas, bloating and constipation.  It is recommended to slowly increase fiber allowing your body to adjust and to drink plenty of water with high fiber foods.  Increased water intake helps fiber move through the digestive system and prevents bloating and constipation.