Generally, bloating is noticeable when excess gas builds up in the stomach and intensifies. It is often caused after eating and has the ability to produce a lot of discomfort and pain. Bloating is not the same as water retention, though the two expressions are often used interchangeably.
Sometimes bloating can be brought on by medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially in the evening. The bloating of IBS does not seem to be linked with excess wind. It is, instead, thought to be down to erratic propulsion of contents through the bowel.
More often that not, however, a person’s diet and certain ingredients they are intolerant to are to blame for uncomfortable bloating.
Other factors that cause bloating also include premenstrual syndrome (PMS), constipation and dehydration.
Whatever the cause of bloating, there are quick and easy steps to try and overcome the digestive nuisance. Joanna Dase, fitness expert at Curves, has shared which lifestyle alterations can reduce the amount of gas in someone’s body.
1. Reduce alcohol intake
After alcohol consumption, you can be left in general discomfort the next morning. When our bodies are dehydrated, they retain water to compensate. So, after a night of drinking, you might feel slightly bloated as alcohol is an inflammatory substance, causing swelling in the body. If you drink more than your recommended intake, more than 14 units of alcohol a week, you can cause irritation of the stomach lining. Stick to the recommended unit for your age and keep hydrated in between drinks to flush out toxins and ease your hangover the next day.
2. Reduce salt and increase spices
Spices can play a part in alleviating bloating caused by indigestion. Reducing your salt intake and increasing spice consumption can make a big difference. This is because you’re decreasing sodium which is found in table salt and causes retention. Cayenne pepper eases gas which could help to relive pressure and cramping. You can add spices into your meals or add a sprinkle to a drink of your choice.You can do the same with turmeric, add a teaspoon into tea or a smoothie.
3. Implement daily yoga
Daily yoga sessions can make a difference to your digestive system. Yoga works by stretching your abdominal muscles and encourage movement through your intestines. Integrate a session into your morning routine and you’ll see a reduction of bloating when paired with the right diet.
4. Avoid yeast
Yeast is found in food such as bread, pasties, flour, and biscuits. Experiencing gas after eating bread is common but it could also mean that you have a sensitivity to gluten or a substance in wheat. Try to experiment with eating different types of bread such as wheat-free, if you find your stomach is still inflamed, implement a yeast-free diet.
5. Avoid chewing gum
Chewing gum might seem innocent and is a quick fix for fresh breath, but it causes you to swallow tummy bloating air. Many gums also contain artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, xylitol and sugar alcohols. Since these sugar alcohols are not absorbed by your body it can lead to bloating. As an alternative, choose an organic gum, they are low in calories and do not contain sweeteners.
6. Eat high protein breakfasts
You should start your day by eating protein. A high protein breakfast will reduce mid-morning or afternoon slumps. It will also lessen the chance of you reaching for a sugar snack for a pick me up, these contain bloat inducing ingredients such as excess sodium.
7. Ditch the straws
Similar as eating too quickly can cause you to swallow excess air, sipping drinks through a straw can do the same. Extra air intake will leave you feeling bloated and puffy. If you’re drinking your daily water intake through a straw this could be the reason you’re retaining extra water in your stomach. Ditch the straw and drink slowly through a glass or mug.
Activities as simple as going for a walk can also get the bowels moving more regularly, which, in turn, helps to release excess gas from the body. If constipation is a cause of the bloating, getting the bowels moving is vital.
As well as these quick and easy steps to reduce bloating, medicinal herbs such as herbal bitters have also been key to reducing bloating, according to Charles Passler, founder of Pure Change.
Botanicals such as this, that have been preserved, activate receptors on the tongue that signal the production of more digestive juices in the intestines.
“This will help reduce intestinal inflammation and gas production related to consuming offending foods,” Passler explains.
Other medicinal bitters that may aid with digestion include dandelion, gentian root, burdock, yellow dock and Angelica.
Natural diuretics are also a great way to help draw water out of the body, along with aiding the digestion system.
Foods such as celery, fennel, asparagus and citrus-based fruits are natural diuretics that Amy Shapiro, registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition, says one should consider incorporating into their diet to help reduce bloating.
Shapiro explains: “Fennel contains anethole, fenchone, and estragole which are anti-spasmodic and help decrease discomfort in the GI tract.”
While asparagine (found in asparagus), “is an amino acid that acts as a diuretic and helps reduce water retention. It also contains fibre that acts as a prebiotic and promotes a healthy digestive tract.”