Although it’s common to experience it occasionally, bloating isn’t something you should be okay experiencing more often as it indicates an underlying problem. Bloating is a common condition that causes your stomach to feel tight. It can sometimes result in a distended belly. This fullness and tightness are often due to the gas in your belly.
Bloating can result in a feeling of intense pain or mild discomfort. While it can go away after a while, it can be a recurring problem for some. If your bloated stomach doesn’t go away after a while, it’s wise to visit a doctor to determine the main cause of it. However, most times, it results from hormone fluctuations or digestive issues.
What is a bloated stomach symptom of?
The most common cause of bloating is excessive intestinal gas. If you get bloated after eating, it could be due to food intolerance, eating too fast, or even other conditions that cause gas and digestive contents to build up in the gastrointestinal tract. A bloated stomach can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
3 in 4 women experience bloating around their menstrual cycle. It’s also a common occurrence during perimenopause when experiencing hormone fluctuations. Hormones affect your digestive system, speeding up or slowing your motility.
Excessive gas in the stomach causes bloating. If the gas is a byproduct of digestion, your digestion has gone awry. Most gasses we consume when eating or in fizzy drinks leave the body through belching before reaching your intestines.
Intestinal gas, on the other hand, is due to fermentation. Too much fermentation is often due to an abundance of carbohydrates that weren’t naturally absorbed earlier in the digestive system before reaching those gut bacteria.
Some causes of excessive gas in the digestive tract include:
- Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO): SIBO occurs when the gut bacteria in the colon overflows into the small intestines. The overgrowth of these bacteria tends to overwhelm other bacteria meant to balance them. Some bacteria absorb too much gas produced by different kinds o bacteria. However, the balance is thrown off when one kind of bacteria is not balanced.
- Food intolerance: Many people have a hard time digesting certain foods. For example, lactose intolerance, and gluten intolerance, among others. While some people struggle with tougher carbs, others suffer from food intolerance. Getting an Intolerance Test will help you know foods you must avoid, which will also mean no more bloating.
- Functional digestive disorders: Functional dyspepsia and IBS are diagnosis that means your body struggles more with digestion for unexplained reasons. Symptoms of these often include gas and bloating after eating. When you don’t get diagnosed and help, it often results in severe symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation, nausea, fever, bleeding, anaemia, vomiting, and unintentional weight loss. These symptoms are to look out for and should be a cause for alarm.
- Visceral hypersensitivity: Some people feel excessive gas in their stomachs, even when the volume is normal. This can be a symptom of IBS or other issues involving the gut-to-brain pathways.
Managing a bloated stomach
There are different ways to reduce bloating; these include:
Eating enough fibre
If your diet isnt fibre isn’t rich, you need to step up your game and gradually add more fibre. Gradually adding fibre into your diet will not overwhelm your system but rather ease it.
If you do not eat lots of fibre, it will at first, but once your gut gets used to it, it can help clean out any faecal matter stuck in your system. Fibre also causes you to drink more water, making you feel fuller and preventing you from eating too much.
Besides all those great benefits of fibre, it also acts as a prebiotic, which feeds the good bacteria in your gut, promoting good gut health and preventing conditions like bloating.
Eating less processed foods.
While processed foods are low in fibre, they also contain too much salt and fat. Fat slows digestion since it takes a long to get digested, while salt causes water retention. Combining both can result in bloating and constipation, which isn’t good feelings.
Processed foods also don’t benefit your body in any way, considering they’re low in nutrition and hence will leave you feeling hungry even after consuming them in high calories. When you keep eating these foods, you won’t stop overconsuming, leading to the same problem you’re avoiding bloating and constipation.
Drink lots of water.
Your body needs to be hydrated all the time. Drinking enough water will encourage motility along your digestive tract. Water will also help keep your digesting food from becoming too hard hence difficult to pass. Water also helps fill you up and prevent you from overeating between meals.
Get some movement
Exercise helps prevent water retention and also keeps your bowels moving. Rapid weight gain often results in a lot of tummy fat; getting exercise helps prevent this.
Getting movement is especially necessary for those with desk jobs. Sitting around all day can prevent you from getting any movement in, and this may cause your digestive system to slow down. However, if you can walk around your office or house after every few hours or take a walk later on, it will help.
Practice mindfulness when eating.
Mindful eating means paying attention when eating. Most people prefer eating information on television and watching their favourite shows. However, this makes you less mindful of what you’re eating, how it tastes, how your body responds to it and how you generally feel.
When practising mindful eating, you must remove all distractions and sit with your meal. Take a few deep belly breaths, then chew your food thoroughly before swallowing it. You’ll also learn to stop feeding just before you feel full. Often, feeling full is a delayed reaction because it takes some time for food to reach your stomach.
Often, people stop eating when they feel full. However, at this point, it’s already overeating because you were already full. Mindfulness eating prevents overeating and unhealthy eating because you listen to your body’s needs.
Food intolerance testing
When you have food intolerances and sensitivities, these can cause you to experience gastrointestinal issues like bloating and constipation, among others, like diarrhoea. It is wise to get an Intolerance Test which will help you know which foods cause these reactions in your body.
Once you have your results, you can navigate your diet and cut out foods affecting your digestion. This ensures that you’re taking control of your diet and, therefore, your life. Food intolerances can be a nuisance, and dealing with them helps ensure you’re safer.
Final thoughts on managing a bloated stomach
When the cause of bloating for you is specific, like food intolerance, you can manage it through an elimination diet after your Intolerance Test results. However, if you have perimenopause or suffering from another medical condition, you might need your doctor’s help with diagnosis and treatment.
Since many factors could be causing you to suffer from a bloated stomach, pay more attention to your body, and you may notice exactly what’s causing you the symptom and deal with it if you can, or at least try to manage it with your doctor’s help.