3 Ways to Decrease Belly Bloat
Many people ask themselves, “why am I so bloated?” When people experience bloating, their abdomen often feels uncomfortable and/or their stomach region swells. Most belly bloating comes directly from what is consumed or how well (or rather not so well) the digestive system is working. Most bloating happens after eating too much at once or consuming foods that don’t agree with the body. These things put stress on the digestive system and therefore it cannot do its job properly. Bloating is also a symptom of fluid retention, which means it sometimes happens to people after eating a lot of carbs. In case you don’t know for every gram of carbohydrate, your body holds on to 3 grams of water. Therefore, a meal high in carbohydrates can induce bloating. Knowing these things, what can you do to minimize your risk of bloating? Here we will explore, in detail, 3 ways to decrease belly bloat.
1. Watch what you eat.
This is probably the biggest piece of the bloating puzzle. Watching your nutrition can decrease the chances of bloating. Be aware of things that seem to cause problems. Keeping a food diary/journal can be very helpful. Write down everything you eat and how you feel throughout the day. This will reveal any patterns in how you feel in correlation to what you eat. Here are some common things that cause bloating issues:
– Food allergies/intolerances –things like wheat and gluten, lactose, or sugars (particularly fructose) cause belly bloating for some individuals. Often people will experience relief if they minimize or eliminate them. For certain people, these foods cause digestive problems, and therefore, removing them alleviates any bloating predicaments.
– Eating too much at once – overeating can mimic the effects of bloating. For many people, eating too much in one sitting will make them uncomfortable. While it may not cause bloating, it often feels like it. To resolve this issue, simply eat smaller meals and watch portion sizes. This happens frequently when dining out as portion sizes are often quite large. Split your meal in half (take some “to go”) or share a meal with your dining company. Eating smaller amounts at a time will help with symptoms of bloating.
– Foods that give you gas – some foods are known to cause indigestion and gas. Beans and whole grains are at the top of the list. For some people, foods high in fiber will also cause this issue. For others, foods with fatty acids can slow digestion and therefore cause bloating. As mentioned above, keep a log of your meals and see if/when you experience feelings of gas and bloating. Make note of when you have digestive issues and look for connections in what you ate.
– Sugar alcohols – avoid these in high quantity. Sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and erythritol. This last one is often tolerated better than the others, but can still cause problems if you consume too much. These are often found in chewing gum and sugar-free foods. As the bacteria digest these sugar alcohols, gas is produced. You can see that having too much to digest would cause your belly to bloat!
There are some supplements that will aid in digestion. Recall that a lot of belly bloat comes from what you eat and how well your body can digest it. For some people certain carbohydrates and lactose are indigestible. This means that the body cannot process these things or break them down. In this case, supplements that improve digestion will likely reduce belly bloat.
– Digestive enzymes – some of the most common enzymes are amylase, protease, lipase and cellulase. Each of these has a role in digestion. Amylase breaks down carbohydrates, starches and sugars. Protease breaks down proteins into peptides and amino acids. Lipase breaks down fats and oils so they can be absorbed into the intestine. Cellulase breaks down fiber to help digest fruits and vegetables. We suggest finding a clean source (look at ingredients!) of digestive enzymes, preferably in a veggie capsule so it breaks down easily in the body and the enzymes can do their job!
– Probiotics – having the right balance of “good” vs. “bad” bacteria is imperative to digestion. Recall that the bacteria take part in digesting what you eat. The balance, or even more likely the imbalance, of bacteria could be a source of bloating and gas. Probiotics will help keep healthy bacteria thriving and not allow the bad bacteria to take over which will lead to less indigestion, gas and bloating.
3. Relief digestive discomfort
Some things “external” things can help relieve abdominal discomfort that comes from problems with the digestive system.
– Go for a walk – moving your body (especially if you are mostly sedentary) will help the digestive system “get moving.” Often people feel better after a meal if they do light physical activity.
– Take a bath – a hot bath can help relieve discomfort in the stomach. Stress levels can go down with relaxation and sometimes helps the function of the gastrointestinal tract which commonly reduces bloating.
– Peppermint – why do restaurants always give out mints when you leave? Because peppermint is powerful in aiding digestion as it relaxes the muscles of the intestines. With that being said, we recommend avoiding those sugar filled mints. Options like tea or supplement grade essential oil are great choices to receive the benefits of peppermint.
You can see from this exploration of 3 ways to decrease belly bloat that a good percentage of the issue stems from digestion. To lower the risk of those uncomfortable feelings and swelling of the abdomen, the number one suggestion is to be mindful of what you’re eating. The bloating is a response to what is happening on the inside. You can stop bloating in its tracks if you are aware of how foods make your body feel. Some people have managed to prevent nearly all their experiences with bloating, just by being aware of foods that trigger it. If you do eat something that causes bloating, we hope that you will try some of the solutions provided here so you can get back to feeling your best!