Wondering why you feel bloated most of the time? Here are 10 reasons for bloating and quick remedies to consider.
Generally, bloating is one of the most common symptoms that people suffering from gastrointestinal disorders experience. Among these, the most serious digestive complaints are IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. Other symptoms of these conditions include gas and distension.
Reports confirm that 23 to 96 percent of IBS patients, 50 percent of people suffering from functional dyspepsia and 56 percent of those with chronic constipation experience stomach bloating.
Fluid Retention (or Ascites)
In some cases bodily fluids are stored in different tissues around the body, including the pelvic area, which leads to excessive bloating and temporary weight gain. As an effect of that, jewelry or clothing become tighter, swelling and may even feel pain around joints or scleroderma (skin tightness). This may be due to liver diseases in some cases or even cancer. Medical tests usually show other signs of liver failure or hepatitis, such as jaundice (yellow skin), yellowing of the white of your eyes, and abdominal pain.
Eating salty foods and drinking alcohol may cause dehydration. Counterintuitive as it may seem, drinking more water and consuming more foods with a high water content, the better hydrated you are and the less bloating you will experience. Electrolyte imbalances and dehydration are both known to slow down digestion.
Water stimulates bowel movement and facilitates the journey of food through the digestive tract. Trying to beat dehydration, the body tends to retain excess water, which in turn causes constipation. Hence, when your fluid intake increases, chances are high that you store it around the midsection and feel more puffy.
In general, constipation is the main reason for bloating. Causing the stool to remain in the intestines for extended time, it gives you a hard-feeling tummy, gas, discomfort, and pain. The main reason for constipation is a fiber low diet, drinking too little water, sedentarism, and last but not least, stress.
Very often, sensitivities, intolerances or allergies to certain foods (i.e. lactose intolerance) are also among the causative factors for bloating and gas. Generally gas causing foods include dairy products, gluten high foods like bread, pasta, rolls, cereals and FODMAPs (a kind of carbohydrates among which count fructans, polyols (sorbitol and mannitol), glucose, fructose, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose).
Other forms of food allergies include hypersensitivity to eggs, shellfish, nuts, however, you can pinpoint whether or not those foods trigger allergic reactions, as the symptoms are usually more obvious. FODMAP intolerance is hard to rule out, since there is such a wide variety and every individual is unique in terms of tolerability. If you do have intolerance for certain foods, you can try eliminating foods like apples or avocado (known for their potentially bloating effect) from your diet, to determine exactly which foods make you bloated.
Abnormal accumulation of bacteria in the digestive tract causes SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Usually after antibiotic treatment or due to inflammation or digestive disorders, bacteria thrive in your bowel, leading to dysbacteriosis. Certain strains of good bacteria naturally live in the colon and support the absorption of nutrients, however, when bad bacteria take control and invade the gastrointestinal tract, they cause damage to the stomach lining and often other symptoms occur. Some foods may also induce SIBO symptoms (i.e.: nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, acne, weight loss, rashes, joint pain, fatigue, eczema, malnutrition, asthma, depression, rosacea). FODMAPs sometimes can ferment during digestion and give rise to similar problems.
When we suffer from an infection we may become bloated, as generally infection causes inflammation levels to jump due to elevated counts of white blood cells in the pelvic area, around the urinary and the gut. Fever, pain, redness, swollen lymph nodes are usually infection markers.
Bowel obstruction can also induce bloating, along with nausea, vomiting, and constipation. This condition is triggered by scar tissue or tumor. When the tumor grows, it presses against the bowel walls, causing it to block and hold fluid and stool inside. If you’re unfortunate enough to experience bowel obstruction, you will immediately know since it’s very painful and prevents you from going to the toilet normally.
Changes in Hormonal Levels
PMS is another cause of bloated stomach and digestive disorders, since it increases chances of constipation and fluid retention. However, experts say this is not really a major issue unless period, fibrosis, and/or severe cramping accompany it. Varying on a case-by-case basis and strictly dependant on every woman’s cycle, with some women experiencing severe water retention for as long as two weeks.
Wondering why you feel bloated before, during and after your period? During the first few days of the menstrual cycle, also known as the follicular stage, estrogen levels increase, the uterine lining thickens, bloating amplifies, while ovulation takes place and an increasing amount of fluid and blood accumulates. The excess fluid, blood and tissue are shed through the period, which eliminates bloating.
While bloating is not always a sign of colon or uterine cancer, it does count among the symptoms of these types of cancer. If you have tried everything to reduce bloating and nothing seems to work, it is best to seek medical advice and see what is the real cause.
Increase Potassium Intake
Add salt to your food (with moderation) and include potassium high foods in your diet (i.e.: asparagus, citrus fruit, melon, tomatoes).
Get off that couch and hit the gym (or the pavement)! Regular exercise improves digestion, regulates stool and eliminates bloating.
Down at least 8 glasses of liquids daily. Fluids help your body flush out toxins and decrease the risk of water retention.
Peppermint tea is known to have anti-bloating effects due to its ability to relax the digestive tract and support normal peristalsis (bowel movements). Research also shows that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules alleviate stomach pain.
Consuming fiber and probiotic-rich foods is highly beneficial against bloating. The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25-30g. This being said, if you eat foods like whole foods, vegetables, nuts/seeds, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, you can be sure to have the best remedy against bloating in your hands.
Remember, you are what you eat! A healthy and balanced diet should be rich in greens, fiber and protein. Now that you know all the main causes of bloating and how to fix it, try out our tips and start feeling awesome!