Most of us have found ourselves experiencing stomach bloating, which can feel uncomfortable and sometimes painful. A bloated stomach is often first identified by a feeling of fullness and tightness in the belly, sometimes after eating and sometimes without an obvious trigger. For most people, this feeling often goes away after a short while, but for others, it can be a recurring issue that becomes far more irritating.
But what causes it?
There are a number of things that can cause bloating, and some of them we can try and avoid. It is best to seek help from a medical professional if you find yourself experiencing uncomfortable bloating more often than not.
Gas production in the body is natural during digestion, but too much of it suggests something isn’t quite right. Mostly, gas in the intestines is caused by gut bacteria digesting the carbohydrates we eat in a process called fermentation. Too much fermentation is often due to there being too many carbohydrates that fail to be naturally absorbed earlier in the digestive process before reaching the gut bacteria, meaning more gas is being produced, causing us to bloat. This may be caused by eating too quickly, or you may have an intolerance.
Some people have issues digesting some carbohydrates, such as lactose, fructose, and carbohydrates in wheat and beans. These digestive issues or intolerances mean you’re much more likely to bloat, but we suggest speaking to your doctor to see if treatment is available.
Issues such as IBS or IBD occur when the body has difficulty digesting the food we eat. This is often triggered by stress, overconsumption of insoluble fibre, abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines, changes in gut microbes, and more. IBS and IBD can cause bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, nausea, or stomach discomfort. It is best to speak to your doctor if you are worried that you may have a digestive disorder.
Occasional constipation may occur due to a variety of diet and lifestyle habits and factors, or may even be caused by an underlying condition. Constipation is often also accompanied by uncomfortable bloating that may only be remedied once the underlying constipation has eased.
Recent weight gain
Quickly gained weight is often stored on the belly first, which can impact the volume of your abdominal area. This means there may be less space for the normal digestive processes to occur and a seemingly ‘normal’ amount of food for you may make you feel bloated and uncomfortable.
Three-quarters of women experience bloating before and during their period due to changes in progesterone and oestrogen levels in the body, causing high water and salt retention. Bloating may also occur during menopause for the same reason. Female hormone changes can have a huge effect throughout the body, but in particular can affect bloating through fluid, gas, and digestive backup.
As mentioned above, fluctuations in oestrogen levels can cause increased water retention in the body which can cause bloating. Additionally, consuming too much salt can cause you to retain excess water, which often also causes abdominal bloating.
Overeating or eating too fast
Eating too much, especially salt and carbohydrate-rich foods can cause the stomach to stretch and bloat. Make sure you eat your food slowly- it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to realise you’re full, so take your time and stop when you feel full so as not to overeat.
What’s more, fast eating often results in swallowing more air during the eating process. This air often goes straight to the intestines which can make you feel bloated and gassy.
Coeliac disease is when the body negatively reacts to eating gluten by attacking the intestinal lining. This can cause diarrhoea, painful bloating, and gas. Usually, the only real cure for coeliac disease is to cut out gluten, but be sure to speak to your doctor for more in-depth advice and guidance.
How to reduce bloating
- Identify what is making you bloat. It may help to keep a food diary or make links between foods that often make you feel unwell.
- Cut out the foods that make you bloat or that you think you are intolerant to. At The Pure Package, you are able to exclude certain ingredients to ensure your meals are perfect for your specific health needs and don’t trigger bloating. We also offer a completely personalised tailored custom plan so that you can ensure you’re eating the exact foods for your body’s needs and sensitivities.
- Take part in regular light exercise as this can help to relieve gas.
- Try to swallow less air by eating slowly and avoiding carbonated beverages.
- Try peppermint tea- the natural oil found in peppermint relaxes the gut, removes gas from the digestive tract, and relieves intestinal spasms. This can all help to reduce bloating.
- Limit your salt intake- this will lead to less water retention and therefore less bloating. Our Pure Package meals are minimally salted to allow your own personal seasoning, helping to reduce overall salt intake which can help to reduce bloating.
- Try using probiotics for gut health. Probiotics may be able to reduce symptoms of bloating by boosting good bacteria in the gut and reducing inflammation.
- Support regular bowel habits to reduce constipation. Eat high-fibre foods and drink plenty of fluids to reduce constipation and bloating.
- Speak to your doctor for more support and guidance if your bloating is more severe.