Stomach bloating is very common these days it’s been calling an epidemic. People’s poor diet, high levels of stress, daily intake of various medications, and exposure to environmental pollutants, it’s no wonder that the number of people suffering from this uncomfortable situation is raising every day.
Having a bloated stomach is different from gaining actual fat mass around your stomach since bloating is temporary and mostly caused by air becoming stuck around your abdomen, making it distend outward.
Fortunately, in some cases, stomach bloating isn’t anything to be alarmed about. It can usually be cleared up by making some simple changes to your diet and routine, although not always. Along with feeling full, gassy and having pain in your abdomen, you should check if your bloated stomach occurs simultaneously with other symptoms throughout the body.
This can clue you in on what’s causing the problem and whether it might be serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. When you’re feeling bloated, check for other symptoms, including:
- A fever
- Skin rashes or hives
- Watery eyes, itchy throat and other signs of allergic reactions
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vomiting or nausea
- Blood in your urine or stool
- Unintentional weight loss
- Trouble going to the bathroom
- Pain around your lymph nodes, including in your groin, throat or armpits
- Brain fog and trouble concentrating
- Irregular periods
What causes a bloated stomach?
In most of the cases, the causes of a bloated stomach include:
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Hormonal imbalances
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Intolerance to certain foods and nutrients like lactose intolerance
- Inadequate protein digestion
- Inability to break down sugar and carbohydrates fully
- Imbalances in gut bacteria
However, chronic bloating can indicate more serious health problems. Therefore, it is essential to be familiar with some of the warning signs and symptoms, associated with chronic bloating.
Here are 10 possible causes of a bloated stomach:
1. Digestive disorders
Gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, have symptoms like gas, bloating, distension and other symptoms. Some reports show that bloating is experienced, by 26 and 93 percent of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), 50 percent with dyspepsia, and 56 percent with chronic constipation.
2. Fluid retention (also known as edema)
Sometimes bodily fluids can be stored, around the body, including around the abdomen or pelvis area, which can cause weight gain and excess bloating. This can be due to a liver disease in some cases or rarely even from cancer. Check for other signs of liver failure or hepatitis, including yellowing of the skin (jaundice), changes in the white color of your eyes or pain in the abdomen.
It might seem counterintuitive, but the more water you drink and better you stay hydrated, the less bloated you’re likely to deal with. When your body tries to recover from dehydration, it holds on to excess water to prevent the situation from happening again.
Constipation might be the most obvious reason you have a bloated stomach. It can cause stool to remain in the intestines, leaving you with a hard-feeling stomach, pain, discomfort, and gas. The biggest reasons for constipation include eating too little fiber, not drinking enough water, avoiding physical activity and stress.
5. Food allergies
Food allergies are common reasons for gas and bloating. The foods that cause gas include dairy products and gluten-containing foods. There are also dozens of other possible food allergies (like nuts and eggs), but you’re likely to know if this is what you’re reacting to since symptoms are usually more noticeable.
SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is caused by high levels of abnormal bacteria living in the digestive tract, usually in the bowel, where they can accumulate after taking antibiotics or due to inflammation and poor digestion. When this happens, it causes numerous symptoms including bloating.
You can become bloated and swollen, or develop ascites if you’re dealing with an infection because this triggers inflammation levels to rise, caused by an elevated white blood cell count around the pelvic, urinary and gastrointestinal organs. Check for signs of a fever, redness and pain, and swollen lymph nodes, which usually accompany a serious infection.
8. Bowel obstruction
Sometimes a severely bloated stomach (along with constipation, nausea, and vomiting) is due to a bowel obstruction, which can be caused by scar tissue or a tumor in either the small intestine or the colon. When these grow and press against the bowel, the bowels become blocked and hold in fluid and stool. This condition is usually very painful and stops you from going to the bathroom normally.
9. Hormonal changes
PMS is known to cause a bloated abdomen and digestive issues since it makes you prone to constipation and fluid retention. This is common and not too much of a concern unless you notice other serious symptoms like an irregular menstrual cycle, fibroids or severe cramping.
While it’s not the cause of most people’s bloating, one sign of cancer in the colon or uterus is bloating. This is why it’s important to talk to a doctor if you’ve tried all other ways of reducing bloating and digestive issues but still can’t seem to pinpoint what’s causing your symptoms.
The best foods for bloating
Some of the best foods for helping to battle stomach bloating include:
1. Probiotics: Probiotics act like friendly gut bugs in your digestive tract, killing off bad bacteria that can trigger digestive issues and reactions. You can take probiotic supplements, but acquiring them from natural probiotic foods like kimchi, saurerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.
2. Raw dairy: Choose consuming raw dairy as opposed to the conventional kind sold in supermarkets, which has been pasteurized/homogenized. Manufacturing processes can kill enzymes that are needed for proper digestion, even to the point that some people who think they have symptoms of lactose intolerance can consume raw dairy products without having negative reactions.
3. Water-rich fruits and vegetables: They provide water, key electrolytes and beneficial enzymes are your best friend when it comes to relieving stomach bloating naturally. Try eating more raw or cooked leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fennel, artichoke, melon, berries, steamed veggies and cultured/fermented vegetables.
4. Herbs, spices, and teas: You can use natural digestion-soothing herbs like ginger, dandelion, aloe vera and fennel to soothe an uncomfortable belly. Don’t forget that bone broth and green tea are also anti-inflammatory and great choices for promoting gut health.
The worst foods for bloating
Now that you know what you should be eating, let’s look at some of the foods that might be making your bloating even worse:
- Sugar and sweetened snacks
- Most dairy products
- Refined grains and grain products
- Difficult-to-digest vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion and even garlic.
- Beans and legumes-
- Carbonated drinks
- Chewing gum
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols