Here are some reasons why you may bloat on occasion or more often—and how to feel better.
Find yourself reaching for stretchy pants these days? Feeling uncomfortable after you eat—or just about any time? If so, your discomfort may be a result of bloating.
Bloating is a common occurrence and may happen only occasionally or on a more regular basis. There are many factors that may contribute to the pain and discomfort.
What are common causes of bloating?
Some of the most common causes of occasional bloating include:
- Eating too much at one time
- Eating too quickly
- Eating fatty or high-fiber foods
- Swallowing air from drinking through a straw or chewing gum
If your bloating is related to one of these causes, it will usually resolve itself within a few hours.
If I feel bloated, can there be something else going on?
“One very common reason people experience bloating is due to constipation. As waste backs up in the digestive tract, it creates gas, leading to a “balloon” feeling in your stomach. If you’re not having regular bowel movements or are finding it hard to pass a stool, constipation may be the reason, says Divya Mallam MD, PIH Health Gastroenterology.
Constipation may be caused by:
- Not drinking enough water (dehydration)
- Not getting enough exercise
- Changes in routine, such as traveling or changing sleeping/eating habits
Some home remedies that may help relieve constipation include:
- Drinking more water (aim for at least eight glasses per day)
- Minimize intake of alcohol, which can cause dehydration
- Eating more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains (increase fiber intake slowly because it may lead to more bloating)
- Eating less high-fat foods, such as meat, eggs and cheese
- Adding more exercise to your daily routine, such as taking a walk after a meal
Certain foods and drinks may also provide digestive relief, including peppermint tea, chamomile tea, pumpkin and ginger.
Can a particular food be causing my bloating?
Some people find that one particular food or drink in their diet is to blame. If bloating occurs often or you notice that it occurs when you eat certain types of food, identifying the culprit—and reducing or eliminating it from your diet—may help you find relief.
Foods that tend to cause intestinal distress include:
- Raw cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, lettuce and onions
- Some fruits, like apricots, apples, peaches, pears and prunes
- Beans and lentils
- Whole grains
- Artificial sweeteners
- Carbonated beverages
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream)
- Foods high in sodium, such as processed foods, canned soups and frozen entrees
Can my bloating be due to something more serious?
Bloating that occurs often may also be a sign of a medical condition. You may have a food allergy or intolerance to things like gluten or lactose. Or you may have a chronic condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). If you suspect your bloating could be related to one of these conditions, speak to your doctor to find the best course of action for relief.
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