Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips | Medtalks

Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips | Medtalks

Everything You Need To Know About Bloating

You've definitely experienced bloating at some point, which is the unpleasant sensation of trapped gas or increased pressure in your belly. This digestive ailment may be accompanied with abdominal distension, which is an expansion of the belly.

Bloating is quite widespread, affecting 16–31% of the general population. Fortunately, it's usually only a temporary issue that goes away on its own, sometimes caused by a huge meal or a gas-producing food item. On the other hand, bloating is a chronic condition for some people that produces mild to severe symptoms and has a significant impact on their quality of life.

When the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is loaded with air or gas, abdominal bloating ensues. Bloating is commonly described as a sense of being full, tight, or stuffed in the abdomen. It's possible that your abdomen is bloated (distended), firm, and uncomfortable. Bloating is frequently accompanied with the following symptoms:

  • Excessive gas discomfort (flatulence)

  • Belly rumbling

  • Gurgles, often burping or belching

Bloating in the abdomen can make it difficult to work and participate in social or recreational activities. Both adults and toddlers suffer from bloating.

Causes of Bloating

Air and gas is the most common source of bloating.

Bloating is most commonly caused by gas, especially after eating. When undigested food is broken down or air is swallowed, gas builds up in the digestive system. When you eat or drink, you swallow air. However, some persons have a greater capacity for swallowing than others, particularly if they are:

  • consuming food or liquids too quickly

  • chewing gum

  • smoking while wearing dentures that are loose.

Swallowed air is expelled as burping and farts. Bloating and abdominal distension can be caused by delayed stomach emptying (slow gas transit) as well as gas buildup.

Medical Reasons causing Bloating

Bloating can also be caused by medical issues. These are some of them:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects the gut

  • Functional gastrointestinal diseases (FGIDs)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease

  • Heartburn

  • Sensitivity to certain foods

  • Obesity

  • Hormonal shift (especially for women)

  • Giardiasis (intestinal parasite infection), a parasitic ailment that affects humans

  • Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, examples of eating disorders

  • Stress, anxiety, sadness, and other mental health issues

  • Certain drugs

Factors that lead to gas and bloating are caused by certain situations, including:

  • Bacterial overgrowth

  • Deficiency in the GI tract gas buildup 

  • Changed gut motility 

  • Reduced gas production 

  • Aberrant abdominal reflexes

  • Hypersensitivity of the viscera

  • Constipation caused by food 

  • Carbohydrate malabsorption

How to Decrease or Treat Bloating

1. Determine the Cause of Bloating

Many individuals believe that bloating is caused by too much gas in their stomachs. Swallowing air and the fermentation of meals in your large intestine introduce gases including oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane into your gut.

Increased gas in the intestines can induce bloating and discomfort. This might be due to the following factors:

  • Substances that are fermented in the colon

    • Fibre

    • Sugar alcohols

    • FODMAPs

  • A dietary intolerance, such as lactose or fructose sensitivity

  • Your gut microbiome - the bacterial environment that lives in your stomach

However, studies demonstrate that the quantity of gas in the intestines of persons who feel bloating and those who don't show no difference.

As a result, bloating may be induced by visceral hypersensitivity, which is a heightened awareness of typical levels of gases and tension in the stomach. Bloating is also connected to stress, anxiety, high-fat meals, weight gain, and changes in the menstrual cycle. Muscle reflexes in the abdominal wall and diaphragm might also cause this problem in certain persons.Bloating can be a sign of a variety of medical issues, including infections, malabsorption disorders, intestinal blockage, liver illness, and cancer. If you're experiencing chronic, unresolved bloating, you should seek medical help to address the underlying reason.

2. Foods that Cause Bloating should be Avoided

Many people get bloated after consuming meals that have a lot of nondigestible or poorly digestible chemicals in them. Insoluble and soluble fibre, sugar alcohols, and the sugars raffinose and fructose are among these molecules.When you consume meals that contain these chemicals, the undigested fibre and sugars wind up in your large intestine, where bacteria ferment them, producing gas.

Bloating may be caused by a variety of meals, including:

  • Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage

  • Fruits like prunes, apples, pears, and peaches

  • Whole grains like wheat, oats, wheat germ, and wheat bran

  • Legumes like beans, lentils, peas, and baked beans.

  • Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, present in sugar-free chewing gum and artificial sweeteners.

  • Drinks like soda and other carbonated beverages.

3. Determine if you have a Lactose Intolerance

Lactose must be broken down by an enzyme called lactase. However, after you reach adulthood, most individuals don't create enough of this enzyme to break down lactose. Lactose intolerance is the outcome of this process. Lactose passes through your stomach, absorbing more water until it reaches your colon, where it is fermented by microorganisms and released as gas. Bloating, stomach discomfort, increased flatulence, and belching are all possible side effects. 

Reduce your dairy intake if you suspect you have lactose intolerance. This may help you get rid of your bloating symptoms.However, before making any large dietary changes, see your doctor to rule out other possible reasons, as dairy is a vital source of critical minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and protein.Fortunately, certain dairy meals have less lactose and may be tolerated better. Greek yoghurt and aged cheeses are among them. Furthermore, many lactose-free dairy products allow you to enjoy the advantages of dairy without experiencing lactose intolerance symptoms.

4. Encourage Regular Bowel Habits to help with Constipation Relief

Infrequent bowel motions, heavy straining, firm stools, and bloating are all indications of constipation, which affects roughly 14% of individuals globally.As the nondigestible components of food stay longer in your colon, and are thus prone to increased fermentation by bacteria, it can cause bloating.

Constipation symptoms can often be alleviated by:

  • Increasing the amount of fibre you consume. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds should provide 18–30 grams of soluble and insoluble fibre per day.

  • Getting enough fluids in your system. Water and other fluids should be consumed in the amounts of 6–8.5 cups (1.5–2 litres) each day.

  • Exercising on a regular basis. Walking, running, swimming, or bicycling for 30 minutes a day can help you stay in shape.

Keep in mind that increasing your soluble fibre consumption should be done with caution, since this type of fibre gets fermented in your colon and can cause bloating.Additionally, adding fibre to your diet too quickly might aggravate constipation, so gradually increase your consumption. For women, a daily dose of 25 grams is recommended, while for males, a daily intake of 38 grams is recommended.While medicine can help with constipation, some types, such as bulk and osmotic laxatives, can make bloating worse, so discuss your symptoms with your doctor to see what's best for you.

5. Make an Effort to Eat a Low-FODMAP Diet

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that causes symptoms such as stomach pain, discomfort, diarrhoea, and constipation. Bloating affects around 66–90 percent of patients with IBS. In persons with IBS, reducing specific carbohydrates known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) has been shown to improve bloating and other symptoms. FODMAPs are not only poorly digested and fermented by bacteria in the colon, but they also cause your intestines to retain extra water.

FODMAP-rich foods include:

  • Grains like wheat and rye.

  • Dairy products like milk, custard, yoghurt, and soft cheeses.

  • Fruits like watermelon, apples, stone fruits, grapefruit, pears, mangoes, fruit juice, and dried fruits.

  • Vegetables like onions, garlic, leeks, artichokes, asparagus, peas, lentils, mushrooms, cauliflower, and sugar snap peas.

6. Consider taking Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics are live bacteria or other microbes that provide health advantages when consumed. They can be taken as supplements or in specific preparations, but they can also be found naturally in foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and tempeh.Probiotics may help with digestive problems like bloating by increasing the amount and varieties of bacteria in your stomach, according to some research. As a result, inflammation and your perception of tension and gases in your stomach may be reduced.However, the evidence is contradictory. When compared to nutritional therapies, several studies demonstrate little effect on bloating. The type of probiotic strains employed, as well as the individual, may influence success.

7. Limit Salty & Fatty foods and Eat Smaller Portions

Bloating may be caused by eating a lot of food in two ways. Large servings, for starters, may stretch your stomach and cause gas and sediments to collect throughout your intestines, generating sensations of fullness and bloating.Second, if the meals you eat include nondigestible or poorly digestible carbohydrates, the more of them you have in your colon, the more gases your body produces. Furthermore, a high salt diet has been linked to water retention in the stomach and bloating symptoms. Finally, a high fat content in your gut might cause you to hold gas and feel bloated. This might explain why individuals often feel bloated after eating rich foods.

8.Try Peppermint Oil

Peppermint has a long history of being used to help with digestion. It has been reported to help persons with IBS with bloating and distension when taken as a supplement.Taking 180 mg of peppermint oil capsules three times a day, formulated for prolonged release in the gut, resulted in substantial improvements in these symptoms in 72 persons with IBS in a four-week research.However, there is relatively little study on peppermint oil for bloating. More research is needed, and favourable outcomes may be contingent on certain preparations.

9. Avoid Swallowing too much Air

Aerophagia, or swallowing too much air, is a possible cause of bloating, especially in people with gut disorders like IBS.Swallowing too much air, on the other hand, is more likely to result in belching than bloating, because ingested gas is quickly purged or absorbed.Nonetheless, you may reduce the amount of extra air in your stomach by eliminating certain foods like carbonated beverages.As it is advised to refrain from consuming carbonated beverages, even if you are consuming it, care must be taken not to drink it too quickly.

The Bottom Line

Bloating is a frequent symptom brought on by a variety of dietary, lifestyle, and health-related causes.Maintaining a healthy weight and diet, as well as encouraging excellent bowel habits and obtaining regular exercise, can all assist to alleviate symptoms. If certain items in your diet cause bloating, avoiding or eliminating them in meals might help.If you have IBS, a low FODMAP diet — as well as supplements such as probiotics or peppermint oil — may be beneficial.When making large dietary changes, it's advisable to consult with a registered dietitian (RD), gastroenterologist, or other healthcare expert to verify that your nutrient needs are fulfilled and to rule out any other possible causes and remedies.


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