A bloated stomach causes feelings of discomfort and tightness in the abdomen. While the triggers for bloating are different for everyone depending on your body type, one thing is for sure, there are several ways to instantly start feeling better physically and mentally.
There are a wide variety of reasons why your stomach may be bloated. These can be related to environmental, physiological, and even hormonal triggers. The first step to reducing bloating is determining the root cause.
Here are the four possible causes of a bloated stomach and how to get rid of it.
4 Causes of a Bloated Stomach
1. Gut Dysbiosis
Gut dysbiosis is a term used broadly to describe an imbalance in the gut’s microbiome. The gut contains beneficial bacteria necessary for a broad array of functions. Dysbiosis is the reduction of beneficial bacteria and the growth of pathogenic microbes.
When the gut is out of balance in this way, one major side effect is gas and bloating. This is due to the compounds produced by the bad bacteria and yeast.
How to Get Rid of It: Probiotics
An effective way of getting rid of gut dysbiosis and ultimately stomach bloating is by taking a daily probiotic. Probiotics replenish your gut with good bacteria which can help with a wide range of digestive issues, including bloating.
Look for a time-released probiotic that delivers its bacteria safely past your stomach acid. This will also ensure that you are getting the benefits of those bacteria throughout the day, rather than all at once.
2. Gluten Intolerance (or Allergy)
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in certain grains, namely wheat, barley, and rye. It is commonly found in convenience foods like cereals, bread, and pasta.
Some people can have a sensitivity to gluten, which can cause a host of health concerns from brain fog, gastrointestinal distress, inflammation, and stomach bloating.
Certain individuals are allergic to gluten, a condition known as Celiac disease. This allergy can cause serious health side effects triggered by simply coming in contact with gluten.
Those who have a gluten allergy must take extra precautions as it may be hidden in some foods.
How to Get Rid of It: Elimination Process
Those with an intolerance to gluten will benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet.
They may also benefit from an enzyme supplement in the event that they consume gluten either unknowingly or willingly. These supplements are made with a proprietary blend of enzymes necessary to digest carbohydrates like amylase, protease, glucoamylase, and beta-glucanase to name a few.
If you have Celiac disease, gluten-free foods are a major component of your diet. An allergy to gluten can be life-threatening, and it can also trigger flare-ups that lead to chronic fatigue, significant weight loss, painful gas and bloating, irritability, and even depression.
Certain carbohydrates, known as FODMAPS, are more likely to cause or exacerbate gas and bloating.
When the necessary enzymes are not present for adequate digestion, you’re likely to experience bloating after eating. There are many forms of carbohydrates and a variety of enzymes needed for their digestion.
If one or more of these enzymes are missing or lacking in your gut like any of those needed for digestion, you may experience gas and bloating.
How to Get Rid of It: Experiment With Food
You can experiment to determine which foods may be causing your bloat. Some foods often related to bloating include garlic, artichokes, apples, mango, prunes, cauliflower, and most gluten-containing products. Determining what foods are causing your bloat is one way to prevent it from occurring since you will know which foods to avoid.
Going on a walk after meals can help to reduce your bloat as well. Prolonged bloating that is not relieved with common measures could indicate that something more serious is going on internally.
4. Standard American Diet
The Standard American Diet, ironically known as SAD is just that—sad. This diet pattern, most commonly found in the West, contains lots of refined carbohydrates, an imbalance in omega acids, and high-sodium processed convenience foods.
The end result of regularly eating a diet based on convenience and processed foods is often a bloated stomach. Other, more serious side effects include widespread chronic illnesses from cancer to obesity.
How to Get Rid of It: Integrate More Whole Foods
The fix to this issue is easy and difficult at the same time.
We’ve become accustomed to this diet pattern, and most of our meals are founded on eating this way. However, by integrating more whole foods and produce, you can slowly begin cutting out inflammatory and bloat-inducing foods.
Refined carbohydrates are processed quickly by the body and cause a rapid glucose spike. This can lead to weight gain and imbalances like Candida overgrowth in the long run.
Omega fatty acids are an important part of any diet, but when there is an imbalance between pro-inflammatory omega-6 and anti-inflammatory omega-3, the end result is inflammation and bloating.
When Is Stomach Bloating Serious?
Those who experience chronic and unrelenting bloating may want to contact their healthcare provider to determine if there is a more serious underlying cause.
Monitor your bloating and see if it gets progressively worse or lasts over a week, gets persistently more painful, or is accompanied by other symptoms like fever or vomiting. In these cases, a more serious cause may be at the root of it.
More serious causes include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, a condition where there are not enough digestive enzymes necessary to sufficiently digest certain macronutrients.
Gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach, is another serious condition that could be causing your stomach bloat. This is primarily due to certain bacterial infections like H. pylori, a peptic ulcer, or chronic alcohol consumption.
Ascites can also be responsible for chronic and unrelenting stomach bloat. This is the gradual build-up of fluid into the abdominal cavity as a result of liver, kidney, or heart disease.
Other Ways to Prevent Stomach Bloating
Common bloated stomach causes such as FODMAP consumption, gluten intolerance, or gut dysbiosis, can be addressed in their unique ways. However, there are some other means by which you can treat or prevent your stomach bloat on a case-by-case basis.
Certain herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, or turmeric can help reduce gas and aid in a smoother digestion process. These herbal teas can assist in reducing stomach bloating from overeating or eating too quickly.
Eating an adequate amount of fiber, which is uncommon in today’s diet, can help prevent stomach bloating by feeding the good bacteria in your gut and preventing gut dysbiosis, along with a good probiotic supplement.
Staying hydrated is another major way to prevent common stomach bloat as it encourages adequate motility and digestion. Drinking plenty of water helps your body get rid of excess sodium, which is one of the causes of bloating as discussed in the Standard American Diet.
Lastly, stress is another common factor. It can be addressed through stress reduction such as exercise or other methods that are unique to you and your situation.
Stomach bloating is commonly experienced by many people, but it should not persist for more than a few days. Pay special attention to possible triggers and addressing these causes is the first step.
If your bloating persists and becomes more painful over time, it may be time to seek medical care to determine its cause and undergo the appropriate treatment.
Featured photo credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya via unsplash.com