Millions of people are bloated right now. Maybe you have trouble closing that zipper after a meal. Or maybe you just feel so filled up with air. You may even notice that food baby only comes around after eating a specific food. Either way, bloating comes in many forms and happens for many reasons. A good chunk of it is due to digestion. We do know, however, how hard it is to change your eating habits especially in a world with so much conflicting food advice. Regardless, I’m sure we can all agree that bloating drags you down and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
- Bloating is more common in women due to the female anatomy believe it or not. Women have multiple organs in the pelvic region that men don’t, which as a result, have less space and must make more twists and turns to fit properly. This makes women more susceptible to constipation, which can then cause bloating!
- Gas. This one might seem obvious, but there are 2 sources of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. One is from the bacteria that inhabits the intestines and the second is simply swallowed air as one eats or drinks.
- Diet. A common dietary restriction that causes bloating is lactose. Drinking a lot of soda or carbonated drinks will lead to a lot of extra gas and air in the body. Salt, while our bodies need this, most of us get more than we need. It makes you hold on to- or retain- water.
- In women, bloating is very common during pregnancy and menstruation.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Regular exercise can do wonders for the digestive flow! Just by simply walking, you are encouraging movement of the bowels, gas relief, and constipation relief. Some yoga poses, such as Child’s Pose, Happy Baby Pose, and squats can be very beneficial for the release of excess gas.
- Integrating probiotics, or probiotic foods into your diet can also make a positive difference.
- Consider prebiotics, digestive enzymes, or an inflammation reducing shake to aid in preventing these symptoms.
- Whether it be peppermint oil or chewing peppermint gum, the peppermint works by relaxing the intestinal muscles, which allows gas and stool to move along more effectively.
- Eat at regular intervals. Many people experience bloating directly after a big deal. It is possible to avoid this by eating several small meals each day, rather than in one sitting.
- Look at your supplements and medications. Some supplements, such as iron, can cause constipation and other symptoms of indigestion. This can increase bloating. Potassium, on the other hand, may reduce bloating by helping to balance the body’s sodium levels.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Bloating is extremely common and will inevitably happen to just about everyone at some point in their lives. Consult your doctor if bloating is accompanied by any of the following:
- Severe or prolonged abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- High fevers
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Worsening heartburn
- Unexplained weight loss