Bloating is an uncomfortable feeling that wind is trapped inside your stomach. It is invariably a feeling of ‘fullness’ and can be accompanied by quite notable abdominal pain, belching, nausea, and flatulence.
The causes of bloating are relatively straightforward. The most common cause is eating too rapidly, or excessively. It is also sometimes caused by particular foods that fill the body very quickly, and even fluids, consumed too rapidly, can make you feel bloated.
More rarely, some medication can have a side effect that causes a feeling of bloatedness, and it can also be linked to hormonal changes, especially in women during periods of menstruation.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also sometimes a cause of bloating. This can be a serious condition for some, though it remains rare.
Symptoms of bloating
Abdominal discomfort is the most common and obvious sign you are bloated. Characterized by tightness, this can be a symptom that ranges from mild to severe.
Other symptoms include feeling overly full after eating and a weightiness across the stomach. The feeling you need to burp often is also a symptom.
Though bloating can sometimes feel like trapped wind, excessive flatulence is also a symptom, though this usually means the bloating is in the process of subsiding.
Nausea is also something to be aware of, and though most bloating does not involve nausea or vomiting, it can happen.
In addition, an overall feeling of tightness in your clothing and waist expansion is a clear symptom of bloating. Constipation and diarrhea may also be present as your body lives through the episode of bloating.
It is very rare that bloating lasts unduly long.
Dietary Changes to Get Rid of Bloating
Reduce sodium intake
Sodium intake is often linked to bloating. High sodium intake can be a clear cause.
To reduce your sodium intake, eat fewer processed foods. They are often packed with sodium to artificially enhance flavors.
This requires vigilance when shopping, so make sure you check labels and ingredients lists. You may be shocked at how high a percentage of the recommended daily intake (RDA) some foods have.
As far as possible, opt for fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits rather than canned varieties, as they often contain salts – and sugars – that can lead to bloating.
Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are also to be avoided or reduced as a proportion of your daily intake. These ‘diet’ alternatives can be culprits in making your stomach feel uncomfortable.
These sweetener products interfere with our bodies’ ability to break down food, leading to liquid build-up and extra gas in the gut. If you need a sweetener you are better using natural alternatives like maple syrup or honeys. These natural sugars are much better for you. Honeys in particular have many antioxidant properties that enhance overall bodily wellbeing.
Limit carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks are implicitly gassy. They are among the most frequent causes of bloating in the western world.
To limit their presence in your diet, swap soda waters for mineral water when you eat out, and make sure that any sparkling or carbonated drinks you enjoy are naturally flavored. Avoid those with added sugars.
Alcoholic drinks can also cause bloating, so be careful to lower your intake of wine and beers too, especially beers.
Eat probiotic-rich foods
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help to keep your gut healthy and reduce symptoms such as bloating. They are essential when it comes to maintaining gut health and warding off illness.
You can find probiotics in many natural foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso. Most supermarkets now carry vast ranges of kefir, and these can be a terrific addition to a diet if used in moderation. You can also take supplements or look for probiotics that are included in other foods such as granola bars or cereals.
Home Remedies for Bloating
Bloating is a form of inflammation, ultimately. It therefore makes sense to ingest liquids that are anti-inflammatory.
Ginger tea is among the finest anti-inflammatory drinks you can have. Ginger is widely known for its excellent all-round health-restoring properties, so make sure to have it at home. It is able to help shift excess gas from your gut, which will limit any bloating that may be on the way after a heavy meal. .
It’s also an energy enhancing drink, so try it in the morning to start your day with some zip!
Like ginger tea, peppermint tea is an excellent dietary staple.
Peppermint has relaxant properties and peppermint tea helps to relax the muscles of the digestive tract, which can help reduce the pressure inside your abdomen that causes that bloated feeling. Plus, it can also speed up the whole digestion process, thus reducing the amount of gas that could be causing the swelling in the first place.
To make it, add a few peppermint leaves to a cup of hot water, and let it steep for a few minutes. You can keep the leaves in there until you have finished drinking it, to deepen the flavor. It, too, is a herb with a centuries long reputation as a restorative and healing natural aid to health.
Lemons, and to a lesser degree other citrus fruits like limes, oranges and apples, have levels of citric acid that have been found to stimulate our digestive juices which can consequently reduce gas and bloating.
In addition, their excellent levels of Vitamin C are a boon to the immune system. Just one lemon can create a large amount of lemon juice or lemon tea, so you can make a jug in the morning and sip at it all day.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may sound grim and acidic, but it is actually a reasonably tasty drink. Not only is it packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s also known for aiding digestion and reducing wind and bloating. Add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water and drink it twice a day.
If you find it too sharp a taste, sweeten it with a high quality honey, ideally manuka honey. Nowadays there are many orchards across Europe that have branched out into apple cider vinegar production, as it has become a much more widespread drink in recent years.
Exercise is unequivocally one of the best things you can do to reduce bloating.
In reality, almost any exercise will help you, and even a gentle walk for twenty minutes or so can be an aid to digestion and the reduction of bloating.
Interval training (or HIIT) is particularly effective for getting rid of serious bouts of bloating, but be careful you feel ready for it, as bloating can be a disincentive to any exercise at all! But the important thing is that you get outdoors or go to the gym and do something.
At its core, yoga is focused on building a connection between your body, mind, and spirit. So, when you practice specific poses, the idea is for your body to harmonize internally. A positive effect of this is to reduce the uncomfortable pressure and swelling that can be associated with bloating.
Yoga can also aid in digestion, as it works to make your body more focused on bodily control and the body’s regular rhythms.
Medical Treatments for Bloating
Medications such as antacids, fiber supplements, and probiotics can all be effective for treating bloating. However, occasionally these treatments can cause unwanted side effects like constipation or diarrhea.
Critically, remember to drink sufficient amounts of water when taking these medicines. Staying hydrated is of great importance to ensure that your gut and digestive system functions smoothly.
There are a number of prescription drugs that can help with bloating.
Antispasmodic drugs like dicyclomine and hyoscyamine relax the intestines and can help reduce digestive discomfort and bloating. Additionally, some antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, which can also lead to bloating and other symptoms.
Essential, however, is that you discuss the optimum medication for you with your doctor.
This is an extremely rare option, so please do not worry unduly that this is where your bloating will lead.
Surgery is often invasive and expensive, and the healing process can take months. Also, there’s no guarantee that the procedure will actually help with your bloating, and there is some evidence it may make a situation worse.
It may, however, be worth looking into if you have an obstruction in the digestive tract. Ultimately, it is a personal choice.