While talking about bloating may not sound super exciting, most of us have experienced a sore or distended abdomen at some point in our lives, whether it be mild or extreme. Watch, or read as registered dietitian Beth Nanson, breaks down the causes of bloating, and what you can do to relieve it.
What is bloating?
Bloating refers to the sensation of abdominal swelling. If you’ve ever said things like “I feel like I have a balloon in my stomach”, or “I feel like I am 6 months pregnant”, you’ve likely experienced bloating.
What causes bloating?
Bloating can have many triggers, including, but not limited to:
- Swallowing air due to eating too fast, chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, or drinking through straws
- Stress (gut-brain connection!)
- Dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut
- Slow moving bowels (constipation)
- Certain diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or celiac disease
- Abdominal compression caused by sitting for long periods of time, or wearing tight pants
- Certain foods, although nutritious, can be harder for the body to digest. Examples of these foods include onions, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables. These foods contain carbohydrates that cannot be fully digested, and make their way to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. A byproduct of this fermentation process is gas, which can contribute to bloating, especially in individuals who have a more sensitive gut
How to relieve bloating
Luckily, there are lots of ways that we can reduce bloating! Keep in mind that bloating is a natural process, and happens to everyone. If you’re finding yourself more bloated than usual, here are some ways you can treat bloating:
- Try eating slower! Sometimes when we are really hungry, we overeat, or swallow too much air! Refer to this article on eating mindfully to help you slow down your eating
- Limit gum chewing
- Drink flavoured water instead of carbonated beverages. Try infusing your water with some cucumber and lemon!
- Limit drinking from straws, if your smoothie is making you bloated, try making a smoothie bowl and eating your smoothie with a spoon!
- Try meditating or other mindfulness techniques to deal with stress. Here’s a yoga sequence specifically for digestion
- If your bloating is due to constipation, increase your fibre intake, specifically soluble fiber. Some sources of soluble fibre are avocado, black beans, brussels sprouts, psyllium, and ground flaxseed. Refer to this article to learn more about the differences between soluble and insoluble fibre
- If you have a desk job or find yourself sitting for long periods of time, try and get moving! By getting up and simply walking around you will get your gut moving as well and help to stop abdominal compression
- Eating or drinking ginger, peppermint tea, or a few fennel seeds can also help relieve bloating
- Talk to your doctor or dietitian about using a probiotic to relieve bloating
- Refer to this article for more ways to help manage digestive discomfort
If you’re using any of the above tips to help banish your bloat, it’s important to try just one of the things listed above, rather than multiplying everything at once. By only trying one at a time, you will be able to tell which treatment works to help with your bloating.
Remember to always check with your physician or dietitian before adding a supplement to your diet. If you have any questions about bloating, contact us to book an appointment with one of our registered dietitians.