Bloating can be described as a feeling of discomfort and fullness in the abdominal area. Sometimes marked by a tightness, swelling, and mild distension of the stomach, bloating can also be accompanied by an excess of stomach gas that can be very embarrassing. Bloating can affect your daily activities and if the condition is chronic, it may require medication and a change in diet and lifestyle to tackle the problem in the long-term.
Bloating makes you feel that your stomach has swollen is size and can be caused by a number of factors that range from overeating, medications, obesity, and other illnesses. In all cases, intestinal gases build up in the stomach causing it to enlarge. Bloating is often accompanied by stomach pain, as relief is not usually achieved through flatulence or belching.
Remedies for Bloating
One of the best cures for bloating is the avoidance of all foods that cause gas and flatulence. Keeping a food diary will help you track what foods cause an aggravation in the digestive system and what foods should thus be avoided. Foods such as legumes, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, fizzy drinks, chewing gum, melons and apples can all lead to gas and stomach distension and should either be cut out from your diet or eaten only in small controlled quantities. Certain high fiber foods can also cause excessive gas to build up in the intestine and should be avoided until the spell of bloating passes. Regular exercise and even some light exercise after a meal can aid digestion. Try not to lie down immediately after eating to avoid belching and gas.
Home remedies for bloating include using herbal supplements such as sweet fennel and Burdock to offer natural relief against bloating. Herbs can be used quite effectively in the treatment of bloating, as follows:
- Natural remedies for bloating include Alfa Alfa which is high in chlorophyll and can reduce gas, or Caraway and Anise seeds that are eaten to relieve flatulence and bloating.
- Cooking herbs such as dill and fennel and spices like ginger and cinnamon can be used as natural remedies for bloating. Cinnamon and ginger in fact stimulate the digestive system and can improve the absorption of food.
- Dill and fennel are used as stomach bloating remedies, but they also reduce other symptoms such as acidity and heartburn and ease flatulence and gas.
- Linden tea and peppermint tea sipped on after a meal or whenever you feel uncomfortable are excellent home remedies for a bloated stomach.
Other bloating relief home remedies include using antacids to minimize gas and flatulence or trying out over-the-counter natural medications to treat acidity, indigestion, and gas. Certain yoga positions or asanas can also help relieve stomach problems such as bloating. An easy exercise to try if you suffer from gas and bloating is to lie on your back and extend both legs out in front of you. Bend one leg at the knee and hug it to your chest while keeping the other leg on the floor. Switch legs and alternate at least five times on each side till you feel some relief.
Symptoms of Bloating
Bloating of the stomach rarely occurs in isolation. Some other symptoms that accompany bloating include:
- A Feeling of tightness of fullness in the stomach area
- Distension of the stomach
- Stomach cramps
- Stomach pain
- Gas and flatulence
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain in the lower back
In case any of the following symptoms are experienced contact your doctor immediately as it may signal an emergency:
- Severe stomach pain
- Acidity and heartburn that worsens over time
- Stools that are bloody or black and tarry looking
- Sudden weight loss
Causes of Bloating
Bloating can be caused by a number of factors. The main reason for bloating is the build of intestinal gas that cannot be eliminated. Some common reasons for bloating include:
- Constipation: If you are constipated, you may also experience bloating of the stomach area. This generally happens when you have a low fiber intake in your diet, or you are not drinking enough liquids to facilitate regular bowel movements. Exercising daily, increasing your intake of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, and drinking a minimum of eight glasses of water a day can help tackle the problem of chronic constipation and relieve bloating as well.
- Food Intolerance: Very often, bloating is caused by an intolerance towards certain types of foods. For example, some people may be intolerant to wheat and eating any products that contain wheat could result in bloating and stomach pain. In such cases, alternatives to wheat such as oats or barley can be substituted into the diet, or gluten-free products may be consumed, as gluten intolerance is a common condition that causes such a response to wheat and many other grains. Lactose intolerance similarly, may cause the same responses and require a change in diet and eating habits to avoid the problem of bloating.
- Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated beverages such as all the popular soda brands available today should be completely avoided if you suffer from bloating. Fizzy drinks especially the diet varieties with artificial sweetener can play havoc with a sensitive digestive system and lead to excessive gas, flatulence and bloating. Try and substitute carbonated drinks with fresh juices, iced teas or best of all water.
- Eating too Fast: Gulping your food down and not chewing food properly can lead to air being swallowed while you eat and subsequently bloating. If your mealtimes last less than twenty minutes, experts say that you are eating too fast and need to slow down. Slowing down youre eating also allows you to enjoy your food better and ultimately eat less resulting in a healthy weight loss. When you sit down for a meal, make sure that there are no other distractions such as TV or a book to shift your concentration from the food in front of your. By being mindful of each spoonful and chewing well, you can decrease bloating effectively.
- Eating Too Much: This one of the main causes of bloating and happens when too much food is eaten at a time. Heavy meals, full of fatty, starchy and sugary foods can overload the digestive system and take a long time to be broken down in the stomach. This causes distension of the stomach, possible stomach cramps, gas, and bloating. It is better to eat several smaller meals over the day than three large meals that render you immobile.
- Too much Salt: Foods that are high in salt such as chips, soda, packaged foods and junk food can encourage bloating. Foods high in sodium cause the body to retain water and lead to bloating. Check nutrition labels to ensure that the sodium content is less than 500mg per serving. The general recommended daily dose of sodium in a balanced diet should not exceed 2,300mg.
- Gassy Foods: Foods such as cabbages, melons, radishes, and onions can cause a build up of gas in the stomach and lead to bloating. In case it is not possible to altogether avoid such foods, try eating small portions and introduce them into your diet slowly. Chewing gum constantly can also cause extra air to collect in the stomach and should be avoided as well.
Other common causes of bloating include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Gastroesophagul Reflux (GERD)
- Bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and stomach
- Certain medications that contain sorbitol, lactulose or acarbose (normally seen in diabetes medication)
- Dumping Syndrome (after weight loss surgery)
- Disorders of the pancreas
- Ovarian cancer
Diet for Bloating
The ideal diet for bloating should avoid all gas-producing foods such as beans, legumes, vegetables such as sprouts, turnips, and cabbages, and fruits such as peaches, pears, and melons. Fizzy drinks should be avoided as well as should all food products made with artificial sweeteners as this can increase gas and bloating. Try and add ginger, peppermint, clove, and cinnamon into your diet as they act as natural remedies against bloating.
Suggestions for Bloating
Some simple suggestions to follow to treat and reduce bloating are:
- Avoid skipping meals or leaving large gaps between meals
- Drink lots of water during the day
- Eat small meals and chew properly
- Do not talk while eating as this increases air being swallowed into the stomach
- Limit food products that contain wheat and milk
- Antibiotics used to treat other ailments could also lead to bloating so try and avoid too much of them
- Avoid heavy meals at night and try not to lie down soon after eating
- Fernando Azpiroz, JuanR. Malagelada, Abdominal Bloating, Gastroenterology, Volume 129, Issue 3, September 2005, Pages 1060-1078, ISSN 0016-5085, 10.1053/j.gastro.2005.06.062.
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