It is an uncomfortable feeling, but there are ways to reduce bloating.
Eating habits, lifestyle, exercise…they all can help improve swollen belly and therefore the look of our profile in the mirror.
Bloating is a typical symptom of many disorders of the digestive system.
It is an unpleasant feeling of excessive abdominal tension, the expression of gas accumulation in the stomach and in the intestine.
Most Frequent Causes and Symptoms
Bloating is basically what we often call swollen belly. Is it usually accompanied by alterations in stool frequency (constipation or diarrhea), abdominal cramps, flatulence, and belching.
Often, the swollen belly is just a temporary symptom, caused for example by a large meal or weight gain.
But it could also be a symptom of menopause or premenstrual syndrome.
Less frequently, though, bloating can mask more important diseases such as appendicitis, colon and ovarian cancer, gallstones, cystic fibrosis, food intolerance (gluten, lactose etc.), viral/bacterial gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome.
But don’t worry, usually that’s not the case. As always, even a low fever could hide deadly diseases…and the internet is scary because it always sounds like the worst case scenario applies to you.
Basic Guideline to Reduce Bloating
- When the cause is lactose, the only way to reduce bloating is to avoid foods that contain lactose.
- Eat gluten free foods is gluten is the cause (of course your doctor will have to find that out).
- Lose weight. When you gain weight one of the side effects is the swollen belly look.
- Eat slowly and in moderation.
- Eat yogurt with live lactic acid bacteria, or probiotics in case of antibiotic therapy (when bloating is caused by bacterial gastroenteritis).
- Take enough fibers in your diet and maintain a discrete level of hydration (recommended 8 cups of water per day).
- Decrease stress. It sounds obvious but reducing the tension caused by everyday life is an excellent way to reduce bloating (take yoga courses, or learn relaxation techniques).
- Exercise regularly to reduce swollen belly.
- Contact your doctor immediately if, along with bloating, you experience high fever, severe diarrhea, loss of appetite or increased abdominal tenderness to palpation.
- Don’t talk while eating…weird? Maybe, but it works! Less air gets introduced into your stomach.
- Do this simple exercise: twist the upper body, left and right, with a bar on your shoulders.
- Avoid big meals, they are the worst enemies of bloating.
- Don’t eat junk food, but rather follow a balanced diet.
- Don’t abuse laxatives (fiber based). These products swell at the gastrointestinal level promoting swollen belly.
- Don’t lie down immediately after a meal.
- Don’t drink carbonated soft drinks (gas promotes bloating).
- Don’t have chewing gums and too many candies. Chewing gums and sucking candies can promote swollen belly.
- Don’t drink with a straw or sip the surface of hot drinks. Ingesting air can cause bloating as well.
- Don’t eat too many different types of foods altogether (pasta, meat, fish, desserts).
- Avoid sedentary lifestyle.
- Don’t smoke during meals.
You have a great meal for dinner, then you go out with friends, and want to wear your favorite dress, or t-shirt and jeans…BUT…
But there is a problem: after eating you always notice that you don’t fit anymore in those clothes, for at least the first few hours!
You must hate that…so here is another advice: watch your diet to reduce bloating!
What to Eat
- Fruits and vegetables, as rich in antioxidants.
- Whole grains rather than white bread and pasta, and foods rich in fiber.
- Have protein with veggies (but not fried).
- Fennel, as it facilitates the release of gas.
- Mint, as it decreases the fermentation and the swelling.
- Apple, as it regulates intestinal fermentation.
- Blueberry, again it has anti-fermentation properties.
- Chamomile, melissa, peppermint drinks.
What to Avoid
- Spicy, fried and high in fat foods, that are difficult to digest.
- Avoid foods that can cause flatulence, such as legumes: lentils, peas, beans etc.
- Cabbage, onions, eggplant, yeast, carrots.
- Milk and milk products: especially in a subject with lactose intolerance, limiting the consumption of milk and dairy products can help reduce bloating.
- Soft drinks, carbonated drinks, sweets, and artificial sweeteners (they ferment in the stomach, increasing the feeling of a swollen belly).
- Milk + eggs are not recommended in case of a swollen belly.
- Whipped cream, milkshakes, smoothies, mayonnaise and pastry (they contain air and can aggravate bloating).
- Soft bread (contains air).
Preventing is better than having to reduce bloating. In absence of swollen belly, you can prevent it from happening by following a healthy and balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Also, try to keep stress and depression away as far as possible.
Now, let me ask you: how do you reduce bloating?