We have all been there: the uncomfortable bloat that leaves you distended and feeling pretty bleh following a meal. While the sensation of bloat is usually due to a build-up of intestinal gas, there are many factors that can cause abdominal bloat.
We each have our own unique sensitivities and triggers that may lead to that ballooned feeling in our belly, and luckily, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of the dreaded bloat. And, even better, you may even be able to avoid bloat all together. Here are 4 ways to stop bloating before it even begins.
Read on, and for more healthy eating tips check out 6 Foods That Heal Your Body.
Swallowing excessive amounts of air, a condition called aerophagia, is known to produce uncomfortable digestive symptoms, like bloating and flatulence. While swallowing too much air can be caused by several factors, like intense exercise, smoking, and chewing gum, eating too quickly is a top culprit. There may not be an exact time goal to meet while eating a meal; however, if you are taking another bite of food before your first bite is completely chewed and swallowed, you are likely eating too quickly.
In addition to fully chewing and swallowing each bite before taking the next, also try taking smaller bites, eat with your mouth closed, and limit talking while eating to reduce the likelihood of bloat.
Food sensitivities are a main culprit of digestive upset, including symptoms like bloating. Carbohydrate malabsorption is a cause of bloat and can occur with a wide variety of foods. For example, those with lactose intolerance may experience bloat after eating dairy products, and others that do not digest fructose well may experience abdominal distention after eating certain fruits.
Additionally, many individuals experience bloat after consuming sugar alcohols, which are often found in sugar-free and low-sugar products. It can sometimes be challenging to narrow down the foods that cause bloating and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms, but food sensitivity tests and elimination diets are two options to explore if you commonly experience bloat and other gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms after eating.
Once you have a good understanding of the foods you don’t digest well, simply avoiding them should reduce the amount of bloating your experience.
Water is essential to every system and cell in your body, and is especially important for your digestive tract. Fluid keeps your digestive organs lubricated to allow for smooth passage of materials, and also is essential for digestive regularity.
When you do not drink enough fluid you may notice several symptoms throughout your body, like headaches, dry skin, and lethargy, and in your digestive tract, bloat and constipation may become more apparent. It is especially important to drink enough fluid relative to your fiber intake. While fiber adds bulk to your stool and aids in regularity, too much fiber without enough fluid is a recipe for bloat and potential constipation.
You may have heard recommendations to avoid drinking water during a meal because it can dilute important enzymes necessary for digestion. However, current research suggests drinking water during or after a meal may actually aid in the digestion process.
Fluid recommendations vary from person to person based on many factors, but the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommend adult women consume at least 11.5 cups of fluid daily, while men should drink at least 15.5 cups.
There are so many factors required for normal digestion- the proper functioning of organs, digestive enzymes, the pH of your stomach, and microscopic intestinal bacteria are just some of the factors required for proper digestion. When some of these factors, like the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract, get out of whack, bloating after a meal may become more common.