From children to elderly, female to male -- no matter who you are -- we’ve all, at some point, experienced bloating of the stomach.
Something that can sneak up quickly and result in extreme discomfort, luckily, for most people, bloating is temporary and can be avoided pretty easily. This is true even if bloating has become a more regular occurrence. All it takes is a little understanding of what causes your belly to inflate in the first place.
What Is Bloating?
Before exploring the reasons why it happens, let us first take a look at what stomach bloating is.
An umbrella term used by many people to describe the feeling of being full, puffy, tight, in pain -- we all experience bloating differently -- the fact is, these sensations can be caused by several things including trapped air, gas, liquid, or solids.
Yes, that’s correct! Contrary to popular belief, while bloating is typically related to eating too much or enjoying a not-so-healthy snack that causes gas, those are not always the culprit. Actually, there are many often overlooked reasons why your stomach could be bloated.
10 Reasons Why You Feel Bloated
Eating And/Or Drinking Habits
No, not what you are eating and drinking, but the habits related to how you are eating and drinking.
- Do you drink from a straw?
- Are you eating too fast?
- Are you chewing too much?
- Do you chew a lot of gum?
- Do you chew with your mouth open?
- How much do you talk while consuming?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be experiencing a bloated stomach because you are swallowing too much air. The more you open your mouth and take in air, the more you have in your system. Excess air that is not expelled via a burp will ultimately pass through the digestive and be released as gas. Until it is released, the stomach will hold the air.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Not to sound like your nagging mother or training coach, but, drink your water! From flushing toxins and salts that cause fluid retention to encouraging the digestive system to move quickly and smoothly, water is your best friend when it comes to getting rid of stomach bloat.
DYLN Tip: Having a water bottle on hand will help you remember to sip, sip, and sip some more throughout the day.
Stomach Acid Imbalances
The role of stomach acid is to help break down and digest food. Therefore, if you have too much or too little, food is not being digested properly, which results in symptoms that include belching, burping, bloating, etc.
Food Allergies Or Underlying Health Issues
Celiac, intolerances, IBS, heartburn, acid reflux, hormone changes, infections -- we could go on and on -- but, the point is, food allergies or underlying health issues could be causing your stomach to bloat, swell, and feel uncomfortable.
The inability to process foods and possibly a reaction to what you are consuming is at play here. So, if you suspect this is the reason for your discomfort, be sure to speak with a doctor to identify the exact issue.
Processed Foods And/Or Alcohol
There is no way around it, what you eat and drink has a direct effect on your stomach. With that in mind, if you are eating a lot of sodium-rich, sugar-loaded processed foods or alcohol -- an inflammatory substance that also dehydrates the body -- you are likely to have a bloated belly. The same thing goes for sodas!
DYLN Tip: Read labels and drink as much water as you can throughout the day. Cut processed foods and alcohol out of your diet where possible.
Eating Cruciferous Greens, Raw Veggies, Fruits, And/Or Legumes
- Pinto beans
- Lima Beans
All undoubtedly healthy foods, unfortunately, when it comes to stomach bloat, raw veggies, cruciferous greens, some fruits, and legumes could be to blame. This is because of a few things. First, high carbohydrate and starch levels that are left undigested, then broken down by good gut bacteria which produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen -- or better known as flatulence. Second, high levels of sugars like raffinose or fructose that sit in the gut, ferment and cause gas.
So, if you are enjoying lots of these kinds of foods, it might be time to change your diet!
Backed up, blocked, unable to go, whatever you call it, constipation is a leading reason for bloat. Pretty straightforward, when things aren’t moving, excitement builds up, and the bowels expand.
DYLN Tip: Water, water, and more water is known to help get things moving. Stay hydrated and forget constipation.
One culprit that many people may not at first associate with stomach bloating, the reality is, stress can but make your gut uneasy.
Essentially, the link here's that when stressed the mind goes into an overdrive trying to protect the body. This reaction can work to stop the digestive system’s normal functions. And, when not working properly malabsorption can lead to excess gas.
In that light, are you feeling stressed? If yes, your bloat may be related.
Lack Of Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes are proteins that the body uses to digest foods -- fibers, fats, carbs, scratches, proteins -- into usable molecules. That said, without the right amount of enzymes to break down foods, bloating naturally occurs. If you are lacking digestive enzymes, you are likely to experience bloat more often.
DYLN Tip: Alkaline water helps to balance the body's pH so that the correct enzymes can be produced and triggered. This in turn will aid in reducing the feelings of being full, puffy, sluggish, etc.
Imbalanced Gut Flora
Ever heard of probiotics? If not, this might be exactly what you need to get rid of your bloated stomach.
There is no way around it, a healthy gut -- one that digests properly and is flat -- means a good balance of bacteria. Without gut flora or if it is imbalanced, bloating and gas can become a big issue. An issue that is impossible to get rid of. With good flora, the gut can break down foods easily, go to the bathroom smoothly, and suffer from less bloat.
Take Control Of Your Bloated Stomach
Now that you are aware of the many things that can lead to stomach bloat and discomfort, you can leave here ready to take control.
To start, it may be beneficial to take notes on what you are eating during the day, your consumption habits, as well as how you feel generally. This will help you get a good idea of what is causing the bloat and how to stop it. On top of that, as always, stay hydrated and be patient. Good health comes with persistence.