Always Feeling Bloated? Here's Why
Feeling bloated can be highly uncomfortable and even unavoidable in a large portion of the population. In fact, one in 10 Americans claim to suffer from a bloated stomach regularly. But if you are always feeling bloated, there may be some sort of light shining on its cause and solutions on how to minimize the discomfort.
Bloat is characterized by feelings of discomfort in the abdominal area, generally with the presence of gas. Stomach bloat may produce visible distention, or an increase in the width of the abdomen, and may very well be painful and cause clothes to feel a little snug. Origins of bloat are extensive and include several of the following:
Too Much Air
This may seem like an unusual concept considering lungs require sufficient air for continuous breathing. However, too much can cause upper intestinal gas and lead to bloat while carbonation can further cause unpleasant gas.
Solution: You may be swallowing excess air for a number of reasons. Reduce "too much air" by limiting gum chewing and carbonated beverages, chewing with the mouth closed, and slowing down during mealtimes. Cutting back on straw utilization can further reduce the risk of inhaling too much air that may end up causing bloat.
Feeling bloated following a large meal is fairly common. Additionally, overeating on fat may further trigger and accelerate bloat, as fat digestion is a relatively slow process compared to both carb and protein.
Solution: You do not need to necessarily need to "undereat" per se, but try to stick to suggested serving sizes. You can further reduce overeating by slowing down eating times (win-win as indicated above!), staying hydrated, increasing fiber intake, and exclusively eating based on hunger cues rather than impulses and temptations.
Most commonly, constipation is when bowel movements occur less often than normal. Despite variations in individuals' versions of "normal" bowel patterns, going longer than three days without a bowel movement is generally recognized as too long. While constipation tends to not be a too serious, dealing with it can be quite uncomfortable and cause bloating.
Solution: While constipation has numerous causes, simple steps can be taken to lessen constipation risk. Increasing fiber (most commonly found in whole grains and fresh produce), water intake, and physical activity have shown to assist in digestive regulation. Probiotics may also ease constipation by restoring bacteria housed in the gut.
Also known as water retention, retaining fluid can be extremely uncomfortable and raise feelings of bloat. Fluid retention refers to excessive fluid build-up within the body, largely in the circulatory system, body tissues and cavities. Retaining the fluid may occur related to cardiovascular disease, changes in the lymphatic system, kidney insufficiency, pregnancy, physical inactivity, medications, salt, and hormones.
Solution: As noticed, fluid retention has multiple etiologies and is rather complex. The solution lies largely in targeting its direct cause, including limiting salt intake, increasing exercise, altering medications if capable, managing the conditions related to the heart or kidneys, etc.
Food Intolerance and Sensitivity
Whether it be an intolerance to milk or sensitivity to gluten, the gastrointestinal tract has trouble digesting specific foods and its related products. For example, lactose intolerance is when the body is unable to breakdown lactose, a naturally-occurring sugar found in milk and dairy products.
Solution: The solution to eliminating food intolerance-related bloat is by removing the primary trigger food. For instance, if intolerant to lactose, remove milk and associated dairy products and if diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten sensitive, eliminate gluten with these 12 tips that will change your life.
Digestive problems are numerous, though common disorders that may trigger a bloated stomach include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroparesis, and a bowel obstruction.
Solution: The solution lies in managing the specific disorder itself, though treatment across the board includes both lifestyle changes and medications. For instance, a well-balanced diet limiting concentrated sugars and sugar substitutes may be beneficial in IBS while a low-fiber diet may manage IBD.