Abdominal bloating is when the abdomen feels full and tight. It commonly occurs due to a buildup of gas somewhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, states Medical News Today. Bloating causes the belly to look larger than usual, and it may also feel tender or painful.
Too many carbs
Carbohydrates gives your body fuel that can be used quickly, according to Web Md. But too many at once can make you retain water. And the faster the carbs get into your blood, the more likely that is. Simple carbs such as white bread, candy, pastries, and soft drinks enter your blood almost instantly. Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables don’t because they take longer to digest.
Most people are a little irregular from time to time, and that can make you feel bloated, states WebMD. Some foods can cause it, along with not drinking enough water, sudden changes in your diet, or stress.
A reaction to diet
Sometimes bloating results when your body has a hard time digesting sugars in certain foods, according to Harvard Medical School. The key culprits are in a group known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). Examples include wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), honey, pistachios, cashews, asparagus, and artichokes. Foods or drinks with fructose or artificial sweeteners are also on the FODMAP list. We all have an increased amount of gas in the body after eating them, but some of us react to them more severely than others.
A misperception of gas
Most bloaters actually struggle with a more abstract cause: the body’s perception of gas and overreaction to it, states Harvard Medical School. New evidence suggests that the majority of people with bloating have an abnormal response to a normal amount of gas. The response is triggered by an extremely sensitive nervous system. When the nerves in the gut overreact to gas, your level of discomfort increases. Normally if you eat something that causes gas, the abdominal wall tightens, and the diaphragm, which divides the chest and abdomen, rises into the chest so the contents of the gut can spread out more. But the data suggest that bloaters do the opposite: their diaphragm pushes down, and the abdomen bulges out.
There are days after eating salty foods or drinking alcohol that you become dehydrated and bloated as a result, states Dr. Axe. It might seem counterintuitive, but the more water you drink (or consume in water-heavy foods) and better you stay hydrated, the less bloating you’re likely to deal with. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances both halt digestion and make it hard to “stay regular.” When your body tries to recover from dehydration, it holds on to excess water to prevent the situation from happening again.
How to beat it
Don’t eat too much at a time
Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much, according to the medical website Healthline. If you’re eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterward, then try smaller portions. Add another daily meal if necessary to help your appetite, if necessary.
A subset of people who experience bloating don’t really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory. A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated. For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.
Be aware of food allergies and intolerances
When you eat foods that you are intolerant to, it can cause excess gas production, bloating and other symptoms, states Health Line. Some common foods and ingredients to consider:
- Lactose: Lactose intolerance is associated with many digestive symptoms, including bloating. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk.
- Fructose: Fructose intolerance can lead to bloating.
- Eggs: Gas and bloating are common symptoms of egg allergy.
- Wheat and gluten: Many people are intolerant to gluten, a protein in wheat, spelt, barley and some other grains. This can lead to various adverse effects on digestion, including bloating.
Go for a walk
Physical activity can get the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool, states Medical News Today. Getting the bowels to move is especially important if a person is feeling constipated. A walk around the block can provide fast relief from gas pressure.
Try yoga poses
Certain yoga poses can position the muscles in the abdomen in a way that encourages the release of excess gas from the GI tract, says Medical News Today. This can reduce bloating.