We’ve all experienced it; that uncomfortable feeling of fullness and pressure in your belly. Suddenly your clothes don’t fit, no position is comfortable, and nothing seems to soothe your tender tum.
Bloating is a common issue many individuals struggle with on occasion. Unfortunately, frequent bloating can be a sign that there’s trouble brewing in your gut.
While it’s tempting to immediately point to dietary choices as the cause of discomfort, there are many reasons you might be experiencing these symptoms, and a lot of them aren’t even related to what we eat.
While uncomfortable, bloating doesn’t just impact our digestion. It can impact virtually all aspects of our life, from sapping our energy levels and plummeting our confidence to stealing sleep and restricting life’s little pleasures.
If you’re troubled with frequent bloating, consider the following potential causes below. Sometimes making a simple change in your lifestyle can make a tremendous impact.
Stress may not be the first thing you think of when you think of reasons why you might be bloating. However, for some, stress can cause a slow down in digestion which can result in bloating and discomfort.
Stress hormones signal the body’s “fight or flight” response. This suppresses digestion and delays emptying of the stomach to allow the body to focus on what is essential for survival.
Unfortunately, this slowdown makes it difficult for food to be broken down and digested properly which can lead to gas. Excess gas then leads to bloating.
Additionally, stress can worsen pre-existing digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD) which is characterized by the trademark symptom of bloating along with other uncomfortable side effects .
If you suffer from anxiety, you may experience panic attacks or hyper-ventillation which can cause uncomfortable bloating as a result of taking in a lot of air in a short period of time.
If you are struggling with chronic stress, consider practicing stress-relief techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga.
Other things that can help reduce stress levels include getting outside and going for a light walk, connecting with friends and family, listening to music, keeping a journal, and finding a new hobby.
While you may not think your sleep routine has anything to do with your bloated belly, It can be a sneaky culprit.
Sleep deprivation causes stress on the body which, as we know from reading the above section, can alter/suppress digestion and lead to bloating. Additionally, our sleep routine can impact our digestion.
For example, eating a large meal or snack and then immediately laying down for bed can create the perfect storm for bloat, especially if the meal or snack was rich in fat or fiber which takes longer for the body to digest.
To avoid this, plan to give yourself at least 2 hours after a meal before hitting the hay. This gives your body enough time to digest the meal so you don’t suffer the uncomfortable consequences.
Inevitably we must discuss dietary implication for bloat as these can be a main contributor in many cases.
Dietary challenges such as trigger foods, allergies and intolerances, inadequate fiber intake, and various eating habits can significantly impact gut health and digestion.
Trigger Foods and Intolerances
Certain high-fiber foods, such as beans, legumes, lentils, cruciferous vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and carbonated beverages are more likely to cause bloating in some individuals.
If you find that these foods seem to be triggering your bloat, it’s best to limit or avoid them all-together in your diet.
Additionally, bloating can be a result of an allergy or intolerance to certain foods. If you aren’t sure if you have any trigger foods, allergies, or intolerances, speak to your healthcare provider about allergy testing.
If you experience frequent bloating, you may consider working with a specialist such as a Gastroenterologist or Registered Dietitian for extra support.
You may also consider an elimination diet to identify any potential food source that may be contributing.
Bloating can also be a result of slowed digestion due to too much or too little fiber. It is recommended that adults get between 25-38 grams of fiber per day from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains .
However, when consuming a lot of fiber, it’s important to make sure you are also getting adequate water as well. Fiber will pull water from your body during digestion and if you don’t consume enough then a high fiber diet can result in constipation and bloating.
If you aren’t sure where you are at with your fiber intake, consider tracking using an app or by simply keeping a journal to see what your ranges are.
While there are some trigger foods that could be causing your bloat, certain eating habits also play a big role. For example, not chewing your food thoroughly, eating too fast, and eating too frequently can also result in bloating.
All of these things impact our body’s ability to breakdown, digest, and absorb foods properly. If you think you may be practicing some of these habits, consider your environment during mealtime.
Avoid eating while distracted and portion your plate before sitting down. Be mindful and in the moment during meals to avoid eating too quickly or eating too much in one sitting.
Natural Remedies to Beat the Bloat
In addition to those mentioned above, other natural ways to beat the bloat include taking a light walk after meals and making sure to sit upright while eating.
Including probiotic and prebiotic supplements may also aid in reducing bloating symptoms and improve gut health. Be mindful when choosing supplements as some may cause bloating as a side effect.
Look for supplements from reputable sources that include gut-friendly ingredients, such as our gut health supplement, which provides prebiotic fibers, probiotics, glutamine, and inulin for optimal gut function.
Always speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before adding a supplement into your routine, especially if you are struggling with chronic bloating and discomfort to rule out any underlying medical concerns.