Imagine you are with a group of friends you met after a long time, enjoying a hearty meal with them and suddenly a feeling of uneasiness overpowers your senses and you notice your otherwise flat belly bloating to twice its size. Ever found yourself in this uncomfortable situation, unsure of what to do next? Worry not for we got your back and this time belly too. Read on to know more about belly bloating, what causes it, and consuming what foods helps better manage the situation.
What Is Belly Bloating
Bloating of the stomach is a common occurrence many people experience throughout their lives. It can happen to the young and old regardless of gender. When we speak, eat, and talk; small amounts of air enter our body which then travels to our gut. Gum chewing, smoking, stress as well as drinking aerated drinks also causes an involuntary intake of air into our esophagus. Our digestive system naturally also carries a little amount of gas. When combined, a larger amount of gas gets accumulated than normal inside our abdomen. This excess gas sometimes becomes a difficult task for the body to get rid of which leads to discomfort often termed as bloating. Scientifically put, bloating can be termed as gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract or GI. Some people experience bloating as a mild discomfort showing no visible signs of abdominal expansion whereas for some people the discomfort leads to unbearable pain where the stomach conspicuously balloons out. Our body instantly functions to get rid of this excess air through frequent burps and as gas but at times this is deemed impossible leading to increased discomfort.
Signs And Symptoms
Some common symptoms of belly-bloating are as follows:
- The stomach tends to feel overly full.
- Tightening of the stomach.
- Frequent and excessive burping that causes utter discomfort.
- The clothes you otherwise wear feel tighter and uncomfortable.
- Conspicuous ballooning out of the stomach.
- Frequent rumbling sounds erupting from the stomach.
- Pain, that may or may not increase with time.
- Complete loss of appetite and aversity to food.
- Frequent flatulence
- Unable to stand erect in extreme cases.
Apart from gas accumulation, bloating can be caused due to several other reasons. Some of them are as follows:
- Certain kinds of food intolerance lead to bloating in some people.
- Sudden weight gain can cause bloating.
- Hormonal changes can sometimes lead to bloating especially in women.
- Certain types of medication cause bloating as a side effect.
- Diseases of the digestive system like irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, certain types of gastrointestinal disorders can lead to bloating.
- Intestinal parasites can cause bloating.
- Anxiety, stress and depression can also lead to bloating.
- Food malabsorption and constipation is another cause for bloating.
- Slight internal bodily changes can cause bloating and related discomforts in some people.
Foods That Help To Reduce Belly Bloating
Certain foods, when consumed, are said to counter the effects of belly-bloating and helps reduce it. They are:
- Banana – banana is said to reduce bloating by 50% and it should be consumed before meals. This claim is backed by researches conducted on the same. Ripe banana serves this purpose the best. The potassium present in bananas is the contributing factor, which works towards reducing abdominal bloating. Banana is also known to improve digestion as it is considered a great prebiotic-fiber source, increasing the good bacteria content in the gut.
- Kiwi – kiwi is generally known as the gut-friendly, superfood as it does wonders for gastrointestinal health. Kiwi reduces constipation and consequently decreases gas and bloating. Kiwi acts as a laxative and promotes gastric motility thereby contributing to reduced bloating.
- Ginger – ginger, when consumed, naturally provides stimulation to the gastrointestinal tract which acts in favor of the digestive system in ways more than one. As compared to many other foods, the positive effects of ginger on those suffering from bloating are much quicker and hence it provides better relief as a result. The digestive enzyme called Zingibain present in ginger effectively helps to break down the protein in food. As a result, it quickens the process of digestion providing overall gastrointestinal comfort. Doctors often recommend drinking a cup of ginger tea after each meal to enhance the process of digestion not only to those suffering from bloating but to everyone in general.
- Sprouted grains – wheat and barley, when sprouted are superfoods for those suffering from bloating and related health issues. This works especially in favor of those who have an intolerance towards dietary fiber. Sprouted grains can be added to salads loaded with fresh veggies of your choice (preferably green) along with your favorite dressing and you are good to go.
Foods To Avoid
In some people, food intolerance could be the leading cause of belly-bloating. Such people need to practice caution as to what they eat to avoid further and repeated discomfort. Some foods to look out for are:
- Beans – if you often suffer from a bloated belly, then it is best that you stay away from beans. Beans contain alpha-galactosides, a type of sugar belonging to the FODMAPs group of carbs that are often not digested properly. These are then fermented by the bacteria in the gut, in the colon and an unpleasant after-effect of this process is gas formation. This subsequently leads to flatulence, bloating, cramps, etc. Doctors often suggest sprouting beans to reduce this effect in beans.
- Lentils – just as in the case with beans, lentils also contain FODMAPs and are high in fiber content. Both these factors contribute to bloating in those with a sensitive gut. However, doctors do advise the consumption of light-colored lentils as they are comparatively more tolerable than the darker ones.
- Cruciferous vegetables – some people show intolerance to vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and the likes, as they contain FODMAPs. In such people, bloating occurs upon the consumption of these veggies so doctors recommend alternate nutrition sources like spinach, lettuce, zucchini, etc.
- Milk – Some people are intolerant to the lactose in milk. In such people, bloating, cramps, diarrhea and flatulence occurs if they consume milk. So, doctors advise alternate sources like cream, butter, and yogurt to suffice the nutritional requirement. Coconut-milk, soy-milk, almond milk, etc are also other preferred choices to counter the bloating effects of cow’s milk.
Sometimes all it takes to alter an uncomfortable health condition like bloating is to make simple changes in our daily routine. Certain aspects to look into in this regard are:
- Reduce weight as being overweight is a major cause of bloating in some people.
- Avoid or reduce habits like chewing gum, drinking aerated drinks, smoking, etc as they contribute to unwanted gas inside the abdomen.
- Enjoy your meal by eating slowly and chewing properly. Often indigestion is a leading cause of bloating.
- Make it a habit to consume probiotics as they promote healthy-bacteria growth in the gut which aids in digestion.
- Consume healthy, wholesome foods cutting down on junk and processed food.
- Increase water intake as this helps to improve our overall health.
It is evident that abdominal bloating isn’t confined to someone who has food intolerance alone but even a perfectly healthy individual can develop signs of bloating at any stage in life. The sooner one identifies it and makes necessary lifestyle changes the better. It can unanimously be agreed upon that diseases cannot be completely kept out of our lives but how we manage them can pave way for us to enjoy an improved quality of life in the long run.