We’ve all had our fair share of almost comfortable bloating – when your stomach is full, tight, and painfully swollen. Because let’s be honest, it is difficult to eat well all the time despite our best efforts. Drinking enough water, consuming less salt, and adding vegetables to your diet are all good in theory until a binge eating occurs and you hit fast food. And even if you were to go through all of the above, you can still feel bloated. Factors like stress, constipation, and food allergies are all major players when it comes to bloating.

If you feel bloated more often than not, here are some things you need to know about it:

What is bloating?

Bloating is a condition that is the result of large amounts of air and gas in your digestive system, which can lead to swelling in the abdomen. Gas is common after eating when undigested food breaks down or when you swallow too much air. The latter happens if you eat quickly or drink through a straw.

More often than not, you can limit an average case of belly bloat to what you eat and what ingredients you are intolerant of. But bloating can also be a sign of gas buildup, ingestion, overeating, and external factors like stress, among others.

Some of the common causes of bloating are:

  • Eat too much
  • Sensitivity to ingredients
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Indigestion
  • Food intolerance
  • Accumulation of gas
  • Hormonal fluctuation
  • Constipation
  • Malabsorption of food and carbohydrates

Mental health factors like anxiety, stress, and depression – they can slow down your digestion and lead to bloating. If you’ve had a bloated belly despite your best efforts, here are some ways to reduce or eliminate it.

Ways to reduce and eliminate bloating

1. Avoid overeating

Large meals and overeating can often cause discomfort. Stick to small portions and slowly chew your food. This will help with better digestion and you will swallow less air during the process. The best part? Chewing at a slower pace will help you consume smaller portions.

2. Avoid ingredients that you are intolerant of

Foods and ingredients that you are intolerant of can cause gas due to indigestion and bloating. Some common culprits are eggs, fructose, gluten, lactose, and wheat. If you suspect you have an allergy to the ingredients, see your doctor so you can make the necessary dietary changes.

3. Make changes to your lifestyle

Swallowing sparkling sodas, drinking through a straw, eating too fast, chewing gum, smoking – these are some of the common offenders that can lead to an increase in the amount of swallowed air. You should try to get enough sleep and do activities to reduce stress and anxiety.

4. Eat a low FODMAP diet

FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates that opposes digestion. Found in certain foods, it can lead to gas, bloating, constipation, and upset stomach when consumed. Eating a low FODMAP diet benefits people with digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

Also Read: Basics Of Digestive Health

Here are some foods high in FODMAP and fiber that you should avoid if you are prone to bloating – beans, lentils, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, artichoke, alcohol, barley, beer, garlic, onions, rye, wheat, among others. Instead, eat foods high in potassium, like bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes. These help regulate water retention, which removes sodium and water from your body to minimize bloating.

5. Take probiotics for your gut

Certain probiotic strains, essentially the good bacteria found in your gut, are known to relieve bloating. Have a healthy dose of plain Greek yogurt filled with probiotics to aid digestion and reduce bloating.

6. Have digestive enzymes

Digestive supplements containing enzymes will help your body digest food better by helping to break it down to prevent indigestion. This, in turn, will minimize bloating and gas. Take supplements with digestive enzymes before large meals to tell the difference.

7. Drink lukewarm water

Fluid retention causes bloating, which normally happens when you’re dehydrated – your body is holding onto water that it can. Drinking lots of water can flush out stored water as well as excess sodium which holds water. Substitute lukewarm water for ice-cold water, sipping it slowly.

8. Eat more fermented foods

Add more fermented foods with probiotics to aid digestion – sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha. Probiotics also help to make your skin glow – win win.

9. Practice yoga

Yoga is an effective way to stretch your abdominal muscles and improve bowel movements. A session of a few minutes a day can really help your digestive system.

10. Exercise regularly

Exercise, even if it’s just dancing, stretching, or walking, will help, especially if you’re prone to water retention. Movement prevents water retention and helps blood flow efficiently through your body – sitting too long can prevent movement and lead to bloating. Take these shoes and get moving – 20 minutes a day is enough.

Here are some exercises that can target this problem:

RUSSIAN TWISTS

Sit on your mat with your knees bent. Lean back until you feel your abdomen is engaged. Rotate your torso from side to side as you touch the mat on either side. Repeat this movement – you can do it with or without a dumbbell.

Russian Twists

X MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

Get into a plank position and pull your knee to the opposite elbow. Continue and repeat on both sides while keeping your core engaged and your legs strong.

X Mountain Climbers

X PLANK

Get into a plank position to start. Elevate your hips as you step into the pike position and pull your right hand towards your left toe. Lower yourself into a plank position and repeat on the other side.

X Plank