Most of us have felt bloated at times. But for some people, it’s an everyday occurrence. Although most of the time bloating isn’t serious, it can be a real annoyance if it happens often.
Let’s look at some of the most common causes of bloating and how we can address them.
#1 Eating Too Fast
Eating too fast leads to extra swallowed air, which enters the intestines and is a common cause of bloating.
It takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize the stomach is full, so eating in a shorter amount of time can lead to discomfort. Remedy this by making mealtimes an opportunity to slow down and eat mindfully, enjoying each bite. This can help extend your meal and prevent excess gas.
#2 Eating Too Much
When we eat more than is comfortable, our stomachs will stretch to fit in all the food. This can also lead to feeling bloated and discomfort.
Use the tip from #1 to try and slow down at each meal, paying attention to the time when you start to feel full and satisfied. It also helps to avoid distractions, such as having the TV on or working while eating. Make your meal a separate event that has your full attention or that you can enjoy with others.
#3 Too Much Salt
Salt is crucial for health because it’s an electrolyte that keeps our cells and organs functioning correctly. However, like many things in life, more doesn’t always mean better. Extra salt in foods can lead to not only bloating but also high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease. That’s why American guidelines advise consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day, which amounts to about a teaspoon or less.
The best way to avoid excess sodium is by limiting how much you eat out. Restaurant meals and fast food can contain huge amounts of added salt, so eating at home most days is a far healthier option. Also, avoid over-salting your meals and snacks at home.
#4 Not Enough Water
Not drinking enough water can lead to constipation, which can make us feel bloated. Most people don’t drink enough water, so increasing consumption can go a long way.
Stay hydrated and help “move things along” by reminding yourself to drink water throughout the day. Start with a big glass of water in the morning, too. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice for flavor (also a nice way to support the liver!).
#5 Food Sensitivities
Certain types of foods can contribute to inflammation of the digestive tract and constipation. Dairy especially can lead to bloating, gas, digestive issues and stomach pain. Fried foods, high-fat processed foods and gluten can also cause problems.
Other people may have sensitivities to small carbohydrates and sugar alcohols called FODMAPs found in foods like garlic, onions, wheat, and some fruits and vegetables. Reducing these foods may help with bloating.
If you suspect sensitivities, try eliminating the food(s) for at least two weeks to see if the bloating decreases. It also helps to keep a daily food log of what you eat and how you feel afterwards.
#6 Not Enough Exercise
Another cause of bloating could be a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for too long all day can lead everything else in our body to slow down a little.
Try doing something active every day, even if it starts with 10-15 minutes of walking. This can help stimulate your digestive system and reduce side effects of a slow gut, like bloating!
If you experience bloating often, trying out these tips might be helpful. Keep in mind that although it’s less common, sometimes excess gas and daily bloating can be signs of more serious issues, so speak with your doctor about further concerns.