Why you have a bloated stomach (and how to unbloat)
Why you have a bloated stomach (and how to unbloat)
We all have those days, right?
You eat a big meal, or if you’re a woman, you might be on a certain day in your cycle, and your stomach suddenly feels distended and just… yuck.
It affects the way you look and feel, the way your clothes fit, and it can be frustrating for those of us who are trying to live a more healthy life. Bloated stomach can be caused by many things. Most of the time, it’s not serious, but there are some milder medical conditions you may want to look into.
Here are some of the reasons you might puff up, unexpectedly, as well as what to do about them!
Are you getting your eight glasses a day? What about coffee, tea, and soda? Caffeine is a well-known diuretic, and the more you drink, the faster you dry out. Antihistamines are another culprit that can dry you out, costing you the intestinal lubricant that keeps everything moving, and keep your tummy flat. Keep up with your water intake and eat lots of hydrating foods, like watermelon, cucumbers, and celery.
From one end to the other! Sometimes, body fluids will store around the abdomen or pelvis, which can cause swelling, and temporary weight gain. For women, this is really common just before your cycle starts, or at points during ovulation. It can also be a sign of liver disease or abdominal infection. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you experience any jaundice (that’s a yellowish tinge to your skin and the whites of your eyes) or you’ve got indigestion and nausea along with it, check with your doctor!
Nobody likes to talk about it, but everyone’s a little irregular sometimes. Stress, diet changes, even iced coffee season can cause blockages, thanks to taking too much air up in a straw. Having too much gas in your stomach can cause it to bloat up, and can give you chest pains as well.
Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to diagnose a food allergy. Food allergies come and go and can pop up at any time. Dairy products and gluten are two allergies that tend to cause bloating as a symptom. If you’re finding you’re regularly painfully bloated, keep a food diary for a couple days. If you notice any patterns, try to stay away from those foods.
GI and Digestive Disorders
There’s a long list of GI tract and digestive disorders which can cause bloating as a symptom. Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s are all GI disorders that can cause stomach aches, weight loss, and bloating among their symptoms. These symptoms are the kind of thing only a doctor should diagnose, so if you feel like you may have a GI disorder, the bloating is chronic or painful, or you’re noticing any blood when you use the ladies room, that’s when you need to talk to a doctor!
These are just a few reasons for bloating, but they are the most common, and except for in the case of a GI disorder, there’s always something you can do from home.
Diet - Start with the basics: Make sure your water intake is where it should be, at least eight glasses a day, and more if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Stay away from straws whenever possible, and find ways to up your fiber intake, if you find you struggle with constipation. Whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are surprisingly easy to add to your diet, but if you find yourself struggling, fiber pellets are easily available in a grocery store or pharmacy, and you can add them to anything at all to mask the taste.
Check for allergies - Keep a food diary for a week or two and pay attention, especially where wheat and dairy is concerned. If you’re noticing a bloating pattern with specific foods, talk to your doctor about an allergy test to confirm.
Choose natural remedies - Peppermint - Peppermint tea is a delicious way to ease bloating in your stomach. It can interfere with iron absorption, so you shouldn’t take supplements or drink too much tea if you have anemia. But drinking peppermint tea before a meal has been shown to reduce bloating pain. Plus, who doesn’t love peppermint?
Apple Cider Vinegar - Dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your water, or tea. Drink before each meal, and it should help reduce symptoms. For a double whammy for a flat belly and body cleanse, try this 7-day detox water recipe with some ACV added to it.
Probiotics - Probiotics are the bacteria that regulate your stomach’s overall health. The more probiotics you have, the healthier your stomach will be. You can increase your probiotic intake with gut-healthy food, like yoghurt, tempeh, or miso. Or, you can check with your doctor to see if a probiotic supplement is a good idea.
*note:* supplements can be a healthier, natural medicine that causes fewer side effects then regular medication. I personally feel more comfortable with natural remedies than medicine.
But they should still be treated like medication, rather than vitamins. Never prescribe yourself supplements without talking it over with your doctor first. They can counteract medication, or worsen existing conditions.
Massage your tummy
Sometimes, when your stomach is distended, you can actually massage it to keep things moving. Press your fingers near your right hip, slide up toward the ribs, across and down near your colon. You want to press down continually, rubbing in a circular motion. This will help with gas pains, and make your stomach feel a lot better.
Running has been known to relieve gas pains and bloating. Even taking a walk can be helpful. Yoga is a great alternative, to make sure you get enough exercise, and also to ease the pain of a bloated stomach. Breathing, stretching, and twisting, like the triangle pose, or the cobra pose, are really helpful to ease any blockages or problems with your digestive tract.
Everyone gets the bloat sometimes. For women especially, bloating can be really hard to deal with. All of a sudden, your stomach hurts, your favorite jeans won’t fit, and there’s nothing you can do about any of it! Bloating can be caused by a whole list of things, from hormone changes, to diet changes, to serious medical issues or allergies. But hopefully, with the help of this article, you’re able to find the remedy that works for you. Then it's bye-bye bloated tummy, hello happy gut!