How to Get Rid of a Bloated Belly
We all suffer from a swollen belly after eating.
It becomes a lot more worrisome if your stomach remains swollen for a long time and may even feel pain.
A swollen belly can be a symptom of an underlying problem that can even be dangerous in some cases.
A stuffed belly can affect your social life in a negative way, because with a bloated feeling you just do not feel like doing something.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to remedy a bloated stomach.
In this article you will learn:
- What are the possible causes of a bloated stomach
- In which cases, a bloated stomach is a danger to your health
- Which foods you can better avoid if you want to prevent gassing and bloating
- Healthy tips to reduce bloating
An inflated abdomen occurs when an abnormal swelling has occurred in the abdominal area. Your stomach can then be swollen, hard and painful.
When people talk about bloating, they usually mean gassing or swelling in their stomach. Usually, your stomach feels swollen after eating, but there may also be more going on.
A bloated stomach is often the symptom of yet another health problem. If you regularly suffer from a swollen belly, it may be wise to find this underlying cause and try to solve it.
What are the causes of a bloated stomach?
Because so many different factors can contribute to bloating in the stomach, such as food allergies or stress, it is sometimes unclear where the abdominal complaints come from.
Since bloating and/or abdominal distention is not a disease, but a symptom, there can be several causes.
|Gluten Intolerance||Irritable Bowel Syndrome (PDS)||Chronic Stress and Tension||Pregnancy|
|FODMAPs||Crohn's Disease||Fungal infection (candida)||Carbonated Drinks|
|Inflammation and Hyperpermeable Colon||Chewing Badly||Constipation (constipation)||Alcoholic Beverages|
|Food Allergy||Intestinal Parasites||in the Menopause||Overconsumption|
These are the most common causes of a bloated stomach.
These are explained below.
Food allergies or intolerances (such as gluten or lactose intolerance) are very common reasons for gastric gassing and thus bloating (source).
The foods that often cause gas are dairy products and foods that contain gluten (bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, etc.)
Gluten is proteins in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. More and more people can not tolerate this gluten and therefore eat gluten-free.
A small percentage of the population has celiac disease. In people with celiac disease, the lining of the small intestinal wall damages the eating of gluten. This gives a whole range of (abdominal) complaints.
Inflammation and Hyperpermeable Colon
Maybe this counter sounds intuitive, but inflammation can sometimes be a good thing. After all, it is a sign that your body is trying to fend off an infection (source). However, it is worrying when the inflammation is constant or frequent. Small inflammations can provide a stuffed belly.
In a hyperpermeable gut (also called the Leaky Bowel Syndrome), the intestinal wall is damaged causing tiny cavities (source).
If you hear the name that way you can think that only the digestive system is affected by a ‘leaking intestine’.
In reality, a hyperpermeable gut can lead to many other health problems because toxins, microbes and undigested food particles get into your bloodstream.
FODMAPs are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that occur naturally in foodstuffs or are added as food additives (source).
They can provide flatulence and bloating.
The types of carbohydrates that fall under FODMAPs are:
- Oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans)
- Disaccharides (lactose)
- Monosaccharides (fructose)
FODMAPs can be difficult to exclude because there are so many different species and everyone is unique when it comes to enduring food.
By removing certain foods from your diet you can eventually determine which food causes bloating, because they are not properly broken down and digested.
During the meal, you will unintentionally get a lot of false air inside. Especially if you eat quickly and chew badly.
This will be a bit worse if you suffer from nervous behavior and stress. Because you swallow air while eating, you suffer from bloating and a swollen belly.
So to avoid bloating and to optimize your digestion, it is important to chew well and also to eat in peace.
The inevitable menopause in women can cause many small and large discomforts. One of those discomforts has to do with a bloated feeling in your stomach. During the transition, the level of estrogen in the body decreases (source).
The result is a significantly lower production of bile, which causes the intestines to work more slowly. And it is this slower action of the intestines which can be the cause of gas formation and accumulation of air. During menopause low estrogen levels also promote the storage of fat in the abdominal area, which can cause a bloated stomach (source).
For women, bloating can also occur in early pregnancy.
As your body produces more progesterone (female sex hormone) to support your pregnancy, progesterone relaxes the muscles in your body. That also means your intestinal muscles.
Slower moving intestinal muscles cause your digestion to slow down. This allows gas to accumulate, which in turn leads to bloating and regurgitation.
This can also cause clogging. Constipation can also increase the feeling of bloating in the abdomen.
Do not be alarmed, but intestinal parasites can also be the cause of a bloated stomach and bloating.
The Latin names for these unwanted guests are: Blastocystis Hominis and Dientamoeba Fragilis. The latter is the most common parasite in most western countries.
Research has shown that 20% of western people who experience discomfort from abdominal distension suffer from this single cell parasite.
You can solve this with the help of antibiotic treatment, but if you are not a fan of this, there are also more natural solutions to limit the nuisance of these single-celled organisms.
Constipation, or clogging, is that you have trouble losing your stool (source). After eating, it takes a few hours to transport and process everything.
During this journey through your intestines, all necessary nutrients are removed from the food and the remainder is transformed into the stool that the body can leave naturally.
The longer the stool stays in the intestines, the drier the stool becomes. The water is extracted from the stool, making the stool dry and hard. The bowel movement will then become increasingly difficult. In addition, this causes a bloated stomach and bloating.
Severe abdominal pain and diarrhea are the two main symptoms of Crohn’s disease (source).
Crohn’s disease is a chronic bowel disorder that causes severe inflammation of your digestive tract and significantly affects the quality of your life.
It is associated with abdominal pain and diarrhea and is characterized by acute onset and inflammations that suddenly appear and years of the time when people experience few complaints.
The cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Heredity does play a role in the development of the autoimmune disease.
Chronic Stress and Tension
If you suffer from chronic stress, this usually manifests itself in intestinal and stomach complaints. And that has a lot of impacts, more than you think!
The organs responsible for digestion get less blood, which can make you feel nauseous. This then goes together with a bloated feeling and a swollen belly (source).
In addition, the stress, and the associated nervous behavior causes the unintentional swallowing of air, which further strengthens the effect.
If you think of bloating and alcohol, then it is probably the famous beer belly and the notorious alcohol farts that come to mind.
Especially a combination of carbonated drinks and alcohol are a disaster for your stomach. Because in many types of beer wheat or barley is present – containing gluten – this can cause a stuffed belly.
With the last form, more water is added to the stool, increasing the risk of diarrhea and the intestines feeling much fuller than normal.
As a result, you may experience a nausea feeling, in combination with a swollen belly and cramps.
Is a bloated stomach only annoying or something serious?
In most cases, a bloated stomach is nothing to worry about. Often it can be solved by making some simple changes to your diet or routine.
Occasionally, a bloated stomach can be a sign of a serious condition. For example, it can be one of the first symptoms of ovarian cancer in women.
A survey by a British charity found that only 34% of the women surveyed would contact a doctor if they regularly suffered from a bloated stomach (source). That is worrisome, because only 20% of the same group knew that bloating can be a symptom of ovarian cancer.
However, a bloated stomach is not enough to immediately start from the worst. There are other symptoms to look for that can help you distinguish between an ‘innocent’ bloating or abdominal distention that requires medical attention.
Below are symptoms you never want to ignore:
With long-term pain, it is wise to contact the doctor. An accumulation of fluid in your stomach can be accompanied by pain. Also, a painful bloating in the abdomen can be a blockage in the small or large intestine that ensures that food cannot pass.
A bloated stomach of several hours is often less severe than expected. It only becomes worrying when it lasts for several days or weeks. If a bloated stomach does not disappear after adjusting your eating habits or bowel movements, it is a good idea to contact your doctor.
Changes in Appetite
A bloated stomach and a change in appetite can be a sign of cancer. A tumor that takes up a lot of space in the abdominal area can make you feel full or do not want to eat more quickly. Some people with a bloated stomach due to cancer also experience nausea and vomiting (source).
Liver disease can also lead to a bloated stomach and fluid accumulation (source). Normally this is a slow process where it starts in the lower abdomen. As the disease progresses, your stomach starts to swell more and more. You will also feel tired faster and easily bruised.
Bloating often occurs simultaneously with other symptoms in the body (source). These other symptoms can give us an idea what causes the problem of a swollen belly. If bloating in combination with other symptoms persist or even get worse than it is wise to contact the doctor.
Tips to Reduce a Bloated Belly
Tip # 1: Do not eat too fast
A disadvantage of this is that you swallow a lot of air with it, which can lead to bloating.
Try to eat more slowly and enjoy your food more.
To eat slowly, you have to chew your food several times before you swallow it.
Did you know that the average calorie intake of a meal drops by 9.5% when you chew 1.5 times more than normal? And almost 15% when you chew twice as often as usual? (source).
Maybe you do not think about it, but digestion actually starts when you put food in your mouth, and that you can reduce a swollen belly by chewing your food.
There is another advantage to eat more slowly and to chew better: when you take the time to chew, your meal becomes more satisfying and the risk of overeating is also reduced.
People who quickly eat their meals are 115% more likely to be obese than slower eaters (source). Eating too fast often leads to overeating, because your brain has not been given the time to receive the ‘fullness signals’.
In a Japanese study from 2006, more than 4,000 men and women of middle age were examined with the question of how quickly they ate their food. The participants who indicated that they ate very quickly were usually heavier and had the most body weight since their twentieth (source).
In short, do you experience bloating after eating? A smaller meal and better chewing can be the solution.
It is the most normal thing in the world: Defecate. But some people sometimes suffer from constipation.
Constipation is a common digestive problem and can have various causes.
If the stool remains in the colon for too long, it can become hard and dry.
The most common causes of constipation include eating foods that are low in fiber, drinking too little water or emotional stress.
What is the solution for constipation? Eat more fiber. Eating more fiber ensures that you have to go to the toilet more often (source). Insoluble dietary fibers are important for proper bowel movements and prevent diarrhea and constipation (source).
- Adults should consume 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day to reduce the risk of constipation.
Tip # 3: Reduce Stress and Anxiety
One of the lesser known causes of a bloated stomach is stress and anxiety (source).
Stress is a strange thing and has a direct and indirect impact on your body. So also on your digestive system.
If you experience chronic stress, the body puts the emphasis on your stomach and stomach and disturbs the hormone balance. This can lead to a process in which food is badly digested, leading to gas accumulation and bloating.
To reduce that bloated stomach it is important that you do something about that stress and the nervous behavior that comes with it.
You need to tackle the causes of the stress, and you also have to deal with stressful situations that you can not ignore.
You can do this by, for example, doing relaxation exercises. In addition, breathing exercises can be of great importance. Breathing exercises give mental peace and with a control of your breathing, you swallow less unintentional bites of air.
Vibrant drinks can cause gas in your stomach to get ‘locked up’.
By drinking fewer carbonated drinks or reducing the number of carbonated drinks in a day, you can make sure that the bloating in your stomach is less (source).
Staying hydrated is essential to prevent bloating, but when it comes to drinking choices, choose wisely.
The best thing is to simply drink water, possibly with some lemon. Or green tea.
Tip # 5: Eat Fermented Food
Fermentation is a process in which food is exposed to bacteria, yeasts and fungi in order to make it longer-lasting.
It can be added to food products or take place naturally because it comes into contact with oxygen.
Fermented food is in most cases healthy for you, as long as it is not cooked (cooking kills the beneficial bacteria).
Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir all contain healthy bacteria, mainly Lactobacillus, and can reduce the number of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
This promotes the health of the intestines and contributes to a reduction of abdominal complaints (source).
Here are 5 fermented foods that you can eat more often:
Tip # 6: Follow the FODMAP Diet
Certain carbohydrates, called FODMAPs, can cause bloating and other digestive complaints.
This is especially true in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
If you suffer a lot from bloating, with or without digestive problems, then the FODMAP diet can be a possible solution for you.
I must mention that the diet is quite restrictive and is difficult for some to follow.
It is about avoiding foods, especially fruit sugars, dairy products and wheat products.
You can best follow this diet for 2 to 6 weeks under the strict supervision of a dietitian.
Tip # 7: Check for Food Allergies and Intolerances
Eating foods that you can not tolerate can lead to excessive gas production, bloating and other symptoms.
Foods that relatively often cause allergic reaction or intolerance are:
- Lactose: lactose intolerance is associated with many digestive problems, including a bloated stomach. Lactose is in most dairy products (source).
- Fructose: fructose intolerance can lead to bloating (Source).
- Eggs: gassing in the stomach and bloating are common symptoms of an egg allergy.
- Wheat and gluten: a large group of people are allergic to wheat or intolerant to gluten (this is a protein in wheat, spelled, barley and some other cereals). This can lead to digestive problems (including stomach and stomach) if you continue to eat them (source).
Food allergies and intolerances can cause gassing and bloating. If you suspect that you are allergic or intolerant to something, consult your doctor or a dietician for examination.
Tip # 8: Take Enzyme Supplements
I’m talking about digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes help the body to absorb more nutrients and improve gut health.
They help to break down larger molecules into easier to absorb particles that the body can use to survive
Digestive enzymes can eliminate stress from the stomach and intestines by breaking down difficult proteins, starches and fats.
Known enzymes that can be useful:
- Lactase: an enzyme that breaks down lactose, especially useful for people with lactose intolerance.
- Beano: contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down non-digestible carbohydrates.
What better way to eat if you want to prevent a Bloated Stomach?
Now let’s look at the foods that you would not be able to eat if you want to avoid or reduce a bloated stomach.
The following food products can be the cause of painful and unwanted pressure on your stomach (source):
- Added sugars and refined carbohydrates can contribute to candida overgrowth and promote inflammation (source, source).
- Most dairy products: think of flavored yogurt drinks with sugar and artificial ingredients.
- Processed or refined grains and grain products: gluten is difficult for many people to digest, and that includes corn, wheat, oats and other grains.
- Beans and legumes (can cause gas and disturb a romantic evening abruptly)
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onion and even garlic. These contain sulfur and certain types of FODMAP carbohydrates (source, source).
- Carbonated drinks
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols (think of aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol)
- Chewing gum
A bloated stomach can eventually become chronic if you do not do anything about it. And that is of course what you want to prevent.
How do you find out which food creates an inflated stomach? Keep a food diary! This way you can finally find out which food is exactly the culprit.
Get started with the tips above to remedy or reduce your abdominal complaints.
Did you know that research shows that 1 in 3 just gains from a diet instead of losing weight? (source)
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