5 simple reasons you might be bloating
As a murmur under our breath or with full-throated frustration, we’ve all at least once complained about how bloated we’re feeling. But finding the root cause of why you feel like a balloon isn’t so straightforward when you’re eating well and following a healthy lifestyle. Here, we look beyond the more obvious culprits – fatty foods, lactose or gluten intolerances, indigestion, and high intakes of artificial sugars – for reasons why gas could be irritating your insides.
As they contain raffinose (a carbohydrate made up of a combination of simple sugars, otherwise known as an oligosaccharide), vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family are difficult for our stomachs to digest, especially when they’re raw, as our bodies lack the enzyme needed to break them down. This causes foods including broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and watercress to ferment, leading to an inflated belly when they course through the digestive process.
The solution: To make it easier for these raffinose-rich vegetables to be digested, cook or puree them. A light sauté will go a long way.
If coffee is a frequent indulgence, you might want to try paring back your daily java intake; its acidic properties can have adverse effects in your stomach by over-stimulating or irritating the digestive tract.
The solution: Reduce the number of cups you have to two per day. Alternatively, opt for herbal teas, such as dandelion root, peppermint or ginger, which all help alleviate bloating.
Eating at the wrong time
In the case of abdominal bloating, when you eat can be just as important as what you eat. During a work out, for example, digestion is significantly slowed as blood is diverted to your muscles, which need it at a more urgent rate. Equally, lying down impairs digestion. This makes eating right before you go to sleep as much an enemy to your flat tummy as eating a large meal before working out. In both cases, you can be left feeling full of air because of the excess production of waste gases.
The solution: Stick to eating small or low-fiber bites pre-workout, such as half of a banana or rice cake, and leave at least two hours for your body to digest the day’s final meal.
Drinking through straws
It’s not uncommon to swallow or inhale excess air by drinking through a straw. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to the way you swallow excessive air when you eat quickly.
The solution: Instead of using straws, which are typically single-use and non-recyclable, drink straight from your cup.
While probiotics are a common remedy for bacterial imbalances in the small intestine, taking probiotics for the first time, or changing probiotic strains, can initially cause a spike in good bacteria. In this rise, before balance is restored in your tummy, you may experience an increase of that tight feeling associated with bloating.
The solution: If you don’t have a weak immune system, see how the new probiotics work with your body over the long term. As a safeguard, choose a quality brand with well-researched strains, and check how much bacteria you’re getting per supplement by reading the Colony Forming Units (CFUs) on the product's label – this way you can monitor the amount of bacteria in your system and get the most effective supplement for your needs.
Note: If bloating persists, or other symptoms develop in conjunction with bloating, always consult a medical professional.
How do you combat bloating?