What the heck is causing all this bloating????
I guess I’m assuming that everyone else is having the same issues that I am having…..
If bloating is not a problem for you, then Bless your little Heart…
If it is, then read on…………
Symptoms of a Bloated Stomach
Simply put, being “bloated” is the feeling of having built-up gas in your digestive system that makes your stomach protrude out uncomfortably. Having a bloated stomach is different from gaining actual fat mass around your stomach, since bloating is temporary and mostly caused by air becoming stuck around your abdomen, making it distend outward.
Luckily, in some cases stomach bloating isn’t anything to be alarmed about. It can usually be cleared up by making some simple changes to your diet and routine, although not always. Along with feeling full, gassy and having pain in your abdomen, you should check if your bloated stomach occurs simultaneously with other symptoms throughout the body. This can clue you in on what’s causing the problem and whether it might be serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit.
What Causes a Bloated Stomach?
You might be wondering what causes stomach bloating.
Bloating itself is usually a problem with digestion. Making it more confusing, many different things can affect gut health, the ability to metabolize food properly and our body’s way of naturally eliminating waste. Because so many different factors can contribute to stomach bloating — including some that seem totally unrelated, like sleep or stress — it’s possible to become bloated any time of the day or month.
Contrary to what most people think, bloating is not the same as carrying around extra fat mass or even “water weight.” Fluids can’t actually accumulate in your stomach, although you might be bloated and have water retention in other parts of your body (like your ankles, face and feet) at the same time as having stomach bloating if you have a condition that’s causing both.
For many people, the cause of excessive gas in the intestines boils down to: inadequate protein digestion (causing some foods to ferment), inability to break down sugar and carbohydrates fully (certain complex sugar compounds need the presence of enzymes to be digested fully, yet people can be lacking these), and imbalances in gut bacteria. In the digestive tract, there are trillions of healthy and unhealthy bacteria that compete, and when “bad bacteria” outweigh the good for one reason or another, an imbalance can lead to a bloated stomach and excessive gas.
This is an awesome video about what causes bloating and how to overcome it….
(However, most of the information is found in the post below…)
The Best and Worst Foods for Bloating
Your diet plays a huge part in regulating how much air and poop is trapped inside your digestive tract. To keep things “flowing” smoothly, you want to make sure to eat a high-fiber diet, aiming for about 25–30 grams every day or even more. This isn’t too difficult when you eat plenty of whole foods, including veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds, and some ancient grains or legumes. It can certainly help you to track your symptoms after eating certain foods known to cause bloating, but remember that bloating is caused by your entire lifestyle, not just the food on your plate.
Some of the best foods for helping to battle stomach bloating include:
- Probiotics: “Good bacteria” called probiotics act like friendly gut bugs in your digestive tract, killing off bad bacteria that can trigger digestive issues and reactions. You can take probiotics supplements, but acquiring them from natural probiotic foods like kimchi, saurerkraut, yogurt, kefir and kombucha is also beneficial.
- Raw dairy: In the case of dairy, I always recommend consuming raw dairy as opposed to the conventional kind sold in supermarkets, which has been pasteurized/homogenized. Manufacturing processes can kill enzymes that are needed for proper digestion, even to the point that some people who think they have symptoms of lactose intolerance can consume raw dairy products without having negative reactions. It also helps to avoid flavored yogurts with have artificial ingredients, to have aged/raw cheeses over soft cheese, and to consume kefir/yogurt instead of milk, which are lower in lactose.
- Water-rich fruits and veggies: Veggies and fruits that provide water, key electrolytes and beneficial enzymes are your best friend when it comes to relieving stomach bloating naturally. Try eating more raw or cooked leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fennel, artichoke, melon, berries, steamed veggies and cultured/fermented vegetables.
- Herbs, spices and teas: Natural digestion-soothing herbs like ginger, dandelion, aloe vera and fennel have been used for thousands of years to soothe an uncomfortable belly. Many herbs act act like diuretics and help the body release extra fluid, while some, like ginger, can also help the stomach release its contents and relax the muscles in the digestive tract, which relieves constipation. Try eating fresh-ground herbs of all kinds (parsley, oregano, rosemary, etc.), fresh peeled ginger root, aloe vera juice, herbal teas or using essential oils. Don’t forget that bone broth and green tea are also anti-inflammatory and great choices for promoting gut health.
Some of the foods that might be making your bloating even worse:
(Each person’s reaction to foods differs, and this isn’t an inclusive list)
- Sugar & sweetened foods: sugar easily ferments in the gut, can contribute to candida overgrowth and promotes inflammation
- Most dairy products: including flavored yogurts with sugar and artificial ingredients, but also other kinds since modern-day manufacturing processes can remove important enzymes in dairy
- Refined grains and grain products: gluten is difficult to digest for many people, and so are corn, oats and other grains in some cases
- Difficult-to-digest (cruciferous) veggies (in some cases) like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion and even garlic: which contain sulfer and certain types of FODMAP carbohydrates
- Beans/legumes which can promote gas
- Carbonated drinks
- Chewing gum
- Certain types of fermentable fruit (in some cases) including apples, peaches/other stone fruit and avocado
- Artiificial sweetners and sugar alcohols: including aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Going for a walk
- Staying hydrated
A Health News Perspective
Here are ten common (and surprising) causes of an bloated midsection…
1. Fiber-Rich Overload
We’re always being told to eat more fiber; it’s known to help regulate your appetite, promote weight loss, help you stay regular and assist in good overall digestive health. However, many of us make the mistake of taking in too much fiber too soon when we change our dietary habits.
When your body isn’t used to fiber and you suddenly switch to a diet of salads, whole grains, high-fiber cereals and fresh fruit, you are likely to experience painful bloating. A good way to avoid this is to swap out foods in your diet one by one instead of making all the changes at the same time.
2. Carbohydrate Intolerance
Many cases of belly bloat are triggered by eating slow-digesting carbohydrates, particularly those which are high in dietary fiber or known to cause gas. Nuts, beans and legumes are all associated with increased levels of intestinal gas, and if you consume a large amount of any of these foods, you’re likely to notice a bloating effect in your stomach within the hour. One way to determine which foods might be causing your gastrointestinal discomfort is to keep a food diary.
3. Chugging Liquids
Sure, hydration is important, but it’s much better for your body if you’re thirsty to take small sips of water over an extended period of time (an hour or more) instead of gulping down a massive amount.i Another effect of drinking too much water too quickly is that it can actually cause you to lose hydration rather than gain it. Ingesting a large quantity of fluid will have a diuretic effect on your body; in other words, it will trigger urination and clear your body of stored fluids.
4. Vitamins & Supplements
Many supplements and vitamins contain lactose and gluten additives, which can lead to buildups of excess gas in your abdomen.
Dietary experts believe it’s always better to get vitamins, minerals and nutrients from natural sources rather than synthetic alternatives. Instead of taking supplements, research foods which are high in the kinds of nutrients you’re getting from pills and add more of them to your diet. Introduce multiple new foods slowly to ensure your body doesn’t produce excess gas as part of a sudden transition to a dramatically different diet.
If you’re constipated, bloat will be centered in your lower abdomen. As embarrassing as it is to talk about, constipation is an extreme symptom of painful belly bloat. You can tell the difference between a gassy tummy and a constipated body by the tautness of your Buddha belly. If it’s rock-solid, chances are that impacted bowel movements and constipation are the chief culprits. Relieving constipation can be done naturally, by increasing your water intake and eating foods high in insoluble fiber: bran, seeds (fennel), fresh fruits and vegetables with the skins intact
6. Sports Bars & Powders
Most store-bought health bars & drinks are high in two compounds that can cause belly blat: fructose (or maltodextrin) and carbohydrates. In essence, these compounds are present because of the concentrated fruit in many of these supplements. It can be super hard to digest those processed fruity ingredients, so they often cause gas and bloating…and that’s not what you need before your spin class.
As an alternative, try consuming a high-protein, low-fructose snack that won’t add a lot of bulk to your belly before a workout. An excellent combination is a handful of nuts and a small piece of fresh fruit. These foods will deliver the energy you need without the processed chemicals in many commercially prepared workout supplements.
7. Acid Reflux
If the bloating is affecting your upper belly just below your rib cage, it means you might be suffering from acid reflux. This is particularly likely if your symptoms intensify fairly soon after eating. Acid reflux is the result of stomach acid pushing its way into your upper abdomen and esophagus, causing nausea and burning in the throat.
To control acid reflux: you should avoid eating roughage (such as salad leaves or raw vegetables) on an empty stomach. You can also stop it by not laying down immediately after eating. Eating a spoonful of sauercraut (probiotic) can be ease the symptoms as well.
8. Excess Weight Around Midsection
Excess tummy fat places more pressure on the midsection, particularly when sitting and eating. This can stifle digestion and cause bellies to bloat uncomfortably. If you happen to be what people informally refer to as “pear shaped” or “round around the middle,” you are more prone to bloating than people with other body types.
Head out for a leisurely walk around the block after eating to help kick start the digestive process. Also, avoid lying down after eating. This will make your bloated belly more intense and possibly more painful.
9. Milk Intolerance
If dairy products, such as cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream, are among your favorite foods, you may experience a lot of belly bloat after eating them. In such cases, the actual root cause may be dairy intolerance.
It can be remedied by taking a lactase enzyme or consuming raw dairy.
10. Avoid Sugar Substitutes
Many of us consume artificial sweeteners to avoid unnecessary calorie intake or promote weight loss. Examples include sucralose, aspartame, stevia, and sugar alcohol (or “mannitol”), which are found in a long list of diet snack foods, diet soft drinks, and sugar-free foods. However, these artificial sweeteners are known to cause painful belly bloat, as they contain chemical compounds that the digestive tract has difficulty breaking down. As a result, traces of these chemicals linger in your stomach, causing gas buildups and bloating that can take hours for your body to clear up.
Recent studies suggest that many artificial sweeteners actually increase your appetite, thus prompting you to overeat even though you think you’re doing yourself a favor by cutting down your sugar intake. They also may be linked to other dietary and health issues, and a growing number of diet experts recommend that you cut them out of your diet altogether.
More from Dr. Axe:
Start by determining if you might be dealing with an underlying health issue that can cause bloating.
10 Possible Causes of a Bloated Stomach
1. Digestive Disorders
Most people dealing with various functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease have bloating, gas, distension and other symptoms. Some reports show that stomach bloating is experienced by 23 percent to 96 percent of people with IBS, 50 percent with functional dyspepsia and 56 percent with chronic constipation.
2. Fluid Retention (Called Edema or Ascites)
Sometimes bodily fluids can be stored around the body, including near the abdomen or pelvis area, which causes excess bloating and temporary weight gain. You might also notice jewelry and clothes becoming tighter, extra swelling, and pain around joints or tightness in the skin. This can be due to a liver disease in some cases or rarely even from cancer. (6) Check for other signs of liver failure or hepatitis, including yellowing of the skin (jaundice), changes in the white color of your eyes or pain in the abdomen.
Ever notice the day after you’ve been eating salty foods or drinking alcohol that you become dehydrated and bloated as a result? It might seem counterintuitive, but the more water you drink (or consume in water-heavy foods) and better you stay hydrated, the less bloating you’re likely to deal with. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances both halt digestion and make it hard to “stay regular.”
When your body tries to recover from you being dehydrated, it holds on to excess water to prevent the situation from happening again — plus you might find yourself becoming constipated. This means when you do finally drink more fluids, you’re likely to store them around your midsection and feel extra puffy.
This might be the most obvious reason you have a bloated stomach — you need to go to the bathroom! Constipation can cause stool to remain in the intestines, leaving you with a hard-feeling stomach, pain, discomfort and gas. The biggest reasons for constipation include eating too little fiber, not drinking enough water, being too sedentary/avoiding physical activity and stress.
5. Food Allergies or Sensitivities
Often, food allergies, sensitives or intolerances (like lactose intolerance) are common reasons for gas and bloating. The foods that cause gas include dairy products, gluten-containing foods (most bread, pasta, rolls, cereals, etc.) and certain kinds of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. (7)
There are dozens of other possible food allergies (like shellfish, nuts, eggs), but you’re likely to know if this is what you’re reacting to since symptoms are usually more noticeable. FODMAPs can be tricky to rule out, since there are so many different kinds and everyone is unique in terms of tolerability. An elimination diet can help you pinpoint which foods might cause bloating (like apples or avocados, for example) because they’re not being properly broken down and digested.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is caused by high levels of abnormal bacteria living in the digestive tract, usually in the bowel (dysbacteriosis), where they can accumulate after taking antibiotics or due to inflammation and poor digestion. Normally, different strains of bacteria are in proper balance in the colon, which helps with absorption of essential nutrients, but when harmful bacteria invade and take over, damage of the stomach lining can occur along with numerous symptoms. Some foods are capable of causing SIBO symptoms and related sensitivities in the digestive tract, including FODMAPS in the some cases that can ferment abnormally during digestion.
You can become bloated and swollen if you’re dealing with an infection because this triggers inflammation levels to rise, caused by an elevated white blood cell count around the pelvic, urinary and gastrointestinal organs. Check for signs of a fever, redness and pain, and swollen lymph nodes, which usually accompany a serious infection.
8. Bowel obstruction
Sometimes a severely bloated stomach — along with constipation, nausea and vomiting — is due to a bowel obstruction, which is caused by scar tissue or a tumor. When these grow and press against the bowel, the bowels become blocked and hold in fluid and stool. You’ll likely know this is what you’re dealing with since it’s usually very painful and stops you from going to the bathroom normally.
9. Hormonal changes
PMS is known to cause a bloated stomach and digestive issues, since it makes you prone to constipation and fluid retention. This is common and not too much of a concern unless you notice other serious symptoms like an irregular menstrual cycle, fibroids or severe cramping. Having a bloated stomach before or during your period can differ depending on your cycle, and some women experience severe water retention for up to two weeks.
Why do women experience bloating before, during and after their menstrual cycles? During the early days of a women’s cycle, sometimes called the follicular stage, estrogen levels rise while the uterine lining thickens, plus bloating can also become stronger as ovulation occurs and more fluids and blood build up. Normally when when a woman has her period, she experiences shedding of the excess fluid, tissue and blood, which usually results in the bloating going away.
While it’s not the cause of most people’s bloating, one sign of cancer in the colon or uterine is bloating. This is why it’s important to talk to a doctor if you’ve tried all other ways of reducing bloating and digestive issues but still can’t seem to pinpoint what’s causing your symptoms.