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“Congrats, are you pregnant?!” is not necessarily so much fun to hear if it is only stomach gases you are pregnant with… Bloated stomach is a common inconvenience. It is not a dangerous disease, but it may feel difficult and have a negative effect on one’s body vision and quality of life. The term ‘bloating’ describes a condition characterized by an excessive gas synthesis at the gastrointestinal tract, accompanied by an abnormal emission of the same gases from the rectum. The causes of the phenomenon can be multiple. Often bloating is caused by an increase in fermentative or putrefactory processes, resulting in qualitative and quantitative food failures. Other times it is the fault of drugs, stress and excessive tension.
Introducing the problem: bloated stomach
It is easy to feel uncomfortable over the huge bloated stomach in social situations and may require a new wardrobe a size larger. Tight pants or jeans can often feel uncomfortable being pressed against the stomach that claims more space. It can help to have soft pants with elastic band that can adapt to the stomach size.
There distinguish different types of bloated stomach:
- Visually enlarged stomach
- Feeling that the stomach is swollen or uncomfortably full without actually getting bigger. The feeling that the stomach is swollen with or without expansion has been shown to affect up to 96% of people with functional gastrointestinal diseases.
Bloating is manifested in a number of different symptoms: visibly expanded stomach, the feeling of being extremely full to the point of it being uncomfortable or even painful. Additional consequential effects of bloated stomach include being acutely conscious about a big stomach or a belly button that sticks out. And we haven’t even started to speak about gases that as often as not accompany bloating.
What are the causes of bloating?
The stomach gets inflated and enlarged has two main causes.
- More gases in the intestine that make it expand
- The abdominal muscles lose muscle tone so that they do not hold the stomach as much.
Why are there extra gases in the intestine and why do the abdominal muscles lose their normal tension? Some air gets into us when we talk and swallow food. It’s not unnatural to form about 2 liters of gas every day. But when the stomach generates more than twice as much gas. it can cause trouble.
Gases are formed when the bacteria in our intestine get unbroken food particles, such as fibers, to ferment. The amount of gas thus depends on the amount and type of bacteria found in the small intestine and colon. But it also depends on how much unmasticated food the bacteria can use as fuel and fermentation with subsequent gas formation.
Although intestinal fermentation is an absolutely physiological phenomenon, excessive gas production that characterizes bloating often accompanies an annoying or painful abdominal distension (meteorism), especially when, for physiological or social reasons, these gases cannot find the way out.
Some people are able to control the sphincter that normally closes that orifice and, by lowering the abdominal pressure, aspirates air into the rectum through the anus. This is the case of the famous Joseph Pujol, who more than a century ago animated the Parisian Belle Epoque’s nightlife with a perennial music show. This peculiar ability earned him the title of ‘Le Petomane’.
Aerophagia: excessive swallowing of air, generally followed by noisy eruptions. It may have a pathological basis (gastroesophageal reflux, hysterectomy, angina pectoris, dyspepsia, peptic ulcer) or behavioral (smoking and bad dietary habits, such as hasty food or drink ingestion, especially gassed).
Excessive bacterial fermentation: in these cases, bloating is linked to the ingestion of foods rich in oligosaccharides, which are not completely digested, reach the colon where they form the energy substrate of the local microflora. These microorganisms synthesize gaseous waste products, consisting mainly of: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and cannabis, sulfur, indole and butyric acid deodorants. Excess fibers can cause bloating and abdominal tension.
If bloating is not associated with pathologies or frequent eruptions, it is most likely due to excessive bacterial fermentation. We speak of these cases as of pure hyperflation.
Pathologies: gastritis, peptic ulcer (gastric or duodenal), hysterectomy, colitis, irritable colon syndrome, small intestinal bacterial contamination syndrome and food allergies, but also disorders of emotion and psychic sphere (anxiety, depression and excessive stress).
Both bacterial balance and unbroken food, in turn, are due to several other factors.
In addition to the main reasons above, there are several contributing reasons for ballooning.
- Dysbiosis: imbalance of bacteria in the large intestine;
- SIBO: Too much bacteria in the small intestine;
- Poor digestion: more unbroken food particles and risk of infection by bacteria;
- Stress: disturbed digestion and intestinal motility;
- Diet: Too much carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and hard food;
- Inflammation of the intestine: may affect the muscular tachycardia;
- Constipation: Food is collected and starts to ferment or distort.
There are several different things in the diet that can cause a swollen stomach. Raw vegetables such as cabbage, onion and beans can cause swelling or gases. The same applies to syrup-like fruits like oranges and apples as well as carbonated drinks and alcohol. Sometimes it may also be about lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance. A good tip about self-treatment is to try to exclude different types of food from the diet and evaluate the effect.
It may also be helpful to rethink the way you eat. It is important to chew properly to avoid getting gases, which may cause bloating. The same goes for how fast you eat. If you eat quickly and in connection with stress, more air is swallowed while you are less likely to cope with chewing.
Bloating due to constipation
Swelling is a common symptom of constipation. Constipation occurs, like swollen stomachs, often due to improper diet, lack of exercise or lack of fluid intake. If you are tired of exercising and drinking enough fluid, you can probably alleviate or prevent both problems. If you suffer from constipation, it can be relieved with a prescription drug such as Lunelax. Lunelax sucks fluid and swells in the gastrointestinal tract. This increases the volume of the intestine and this causes the colon in the large intestine to work better. The feces also become softer in consistency.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Swollen stomach can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is also called functional bowel disease, which means that you have had pain or discomfort for at least three days a month in the last three months. The complaints must also have begun at least six months ago.
Typical IBS symptoms are:
- Stomach ache before toilet visits.
- Constipation or diarrhea, in some cases switching between both.
- A feeling that you did not empty your intestine properly even though you have just been in the toilet.
- If you suspect IBS, consult a physician.
Quick tips for bloated abdomen
Swollen stomach, or bloated abdomen, is a common symptom that can occur as a result of many different causes. The feeling of being inflated may be an inconvenience, some may also feel that it’s hard on their body image. A swollen stomach is often associated with other symptoms, such as constipation and gases. In most cases it is a harmless symptom that disappears without treatment. But what to do if it becomes reoccurring and clearly impacts the quality of life?
Here are some simple tips and advice that can often reduce the inconvenience.
- Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Avoid chewing gum as it makes you to swallow more air.
- Eat slowly, chew well and talk less during meals. Then you also swallow less air.
- Avoid tight pants. Use soft pants with elastic.
- Avoid whipped food containing a lot of air, such as whipped cream.
- Avoid sugar and be careful with too much fiber.
- Move around, walk, jump, strength train, do yoga. Massage the intestines with gentle movements, it helps to push out air.
Bloated stomach symptoms: what do they reveal about your health?
As anticipated, bloating is generally related to diet composition, and is rarely accompanied by major pathologies. For this reason, diagnostic tests are generally useless and the problem fades with simple diet therapy.
When bloating creates major discomforts in the social context or severe pain caused by excessive gas accumulation, it may still be helpful to conduct a thorough diagnostic investigation.
First, an accurate anamnesis of the patient is needed, examining for example whether bloating:
- It is associated with the consumption of particular foods or certain psychological conditions
- If accompanied by other symptoms such as dyspepsia (constipation, diarrhea), abdominal pain or faecal mucus and blood loss
- Whether it is associated with the taking of particular medicines, illnesses in progress or whether it is familiar with certain pathologies
Thanks to a careful history of the patient, the physician can at this point hypothesize the origin of bloating, for example:
- If it is associated with the consumption of particular foods, it is possibly food intolerance
- If it is associated with particular eating habits (abuse of sugary drinks, confectionery, flour, poor diet of fruit and vegetables, hyper-alimentation, sedentaryity), it can entail possible loss of optimal absorption capacity of the intestinal mucosa (leaky gut syndrome or hyper-intestinal permeability).
- If it is associated with alterations of the liver and nervous states, anxiety, stress, depression, hypochondria, it is possibly irritable bowel syndrome.
- If it is associated with fever, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, the symptoms point to possible intestinal infection in progress.
- If it is associated with diseases with a major autoimmune component (e.g. psoriasis, arthritis), blood in the stools, abundant presence of mucus in excretions, periods of constipation and others of diarrhea with alternation of remission and recurrences, doctor will suspect possible presence of inflammatory bowel disease.
- If it is associated with tapeworm stools, age over 50 years, abdominal pain, anemia and blood in the stool, it may be a sign of colon cancer (malignant or benign).
To confirm or deny such hypotheses, the physician may submit the patient to one or more diagnostic examinations.
The traditional test is to collect the expelled gas through a rectal tube inserted into the anus and connected to a syringe. The chemical analysis of such gases can then determine the origin of bloating: if the major constituent is the nitrogen at the base of the disorder there is probably aerophage; if, instead, the pet is rich in hydrogen and carbon dioxide it is malabsorption of carbohydrates, resulting in bacterial hyper-fermentation, as is the case with lactose-intolerant subjects. In any case, in order to be able to talk about bloating, the number of daily expulsions must be greater than 25; the gas emitted must also exceed 100 ml / h. Instead, they are normally 10-20 steps a day, for a total volume of about one liter of air.
When your doctor presumes that the origin of bloating is related to a food intolerance, a bacterial contamination of the soft tissue, or intestinal malabsorption, you can perform so-called breath tests, which are certainly more practical and used than the previous test. To deepen the subject, we suggest reading articles on the Breath Test for Lactose Intolerance Diagnosis and Breath Test with Sorbitol.
Alternatively, or with the breath test, your doctor may prescribe facial examinations (e.g. faecal pH measurement) and blood (e.g., research on specific antibodies, for celiac disease)
When symptoms are a sign of a possible severe pathology, gastrointestinal tract examinations and possibly endoscopic examination (gastroscopy and / or colonoscopy) with biopsy are indicated.
Bloating, weight gain and cortisol
All living organisms respond to the destabilizing action of the most diverse environmental stimuli with the main purpose of maintaining the biological balance necessary for survival, seeking to ensure the continuity of human life and in particular to safeguard its psycho-physics. Keeping in a state of well-being mental health, the individual conscious of their abilities, will be able to cope with the normal stress of daily life.
Mind is the most important motor that coordinates and also determines a physical state. It is by no means a matter of balance between body and mind. Stress, and a high level of stress in particular, both physical and mental, inevitably leads to physical repercussions, and bloating is one of them. This is explained by the fact that an excessive production of cortisol has a hormone antagonist to testosterone.
Hypercortisolemia can lead to increased body fat, loss of muscle mass, resulting in lowering metabolism, hypertension, capillary brittleness, osteoporosis, immunodepression, etc., in short, a catastrophe for those who want to train and stay in shape, often in this specific case, becomes a further stress because the physical response is not what we expect.
In a normal situation we underline that isotonic training should not exceed 50/60 minutes to avoid excessive production of cortisol, in a situation with hypercortisolemia, this training time is greatly reduced. It is clear that to remedy this type of state we should eliminate all the negative factors that affect our mood and maybe leave for a wonderful Caribbean vacation. But unfortunately sometimes it is not an option. You have to learn to accept these negative periods of life, or to extrapolate feelings, to perceive them, to be able to use them as an experience in our living space.
However, there are supplements that help limit cortisol production, phosphatildylserine based supplements, L-carnitine acetyl, etc. There are also natural remedies and pharmacological drugs. The latter are not neessarily the best solution, as the cause of this excessive stress is not eliminated.
Cortisol production should be interpreted as a defense of the body, for something that does not go, that it is mental or physical, the best treatment would be to overcome the problem by eliminating the cause of excessive stress. Additional constraints from an extremely rigid diet or exhausting workouts would only burden the organism and aggravate the problem.
A study of lifestyle, nutrition, workout, current body composition, and related specific anamnesis may help to understand how to alleviate this condition and improve a state of fitness that would surely also benefit the mind.
Bloating in women: how to get a flatter stomach
If you already excluded the above factors, try these 6 things to help you avoid bloating:
- Skip carbonated beverages
Carbonated drinks, such as soda, beer and mineral water, contain small air bubbles that can make your belly swell up. Put on plain water as a meal-accompanying drink if you want to keep your stomach flat.
- Eat slower
If you throw the food quickly, without chewing it properly, it can complicate digestion – with a swollen, bubbly stomach as a result. In addition, the risk is high that you eat too much, because the brain needs some extra time to perceive the body’s saturation signals.
- Stop chewing gum
Chewing gum causes you to swallow air, which can cause ballooning. Use a mint paste or mouth spray instead, if you want to freshen up your breath.
- Put down the salt dispenser
Salt binds fluid into the body, which may make you feel swollen. Excessive salt consumption is also not good for your health, so try to salt well and look up with semi-manufactured foods that often contain unnecessarily much salt.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol and xylitol, are difficult for the body to digest and can cause irritation in the bowel and bloating. In addition, many sweeteners have a laxative effect that can give you diarrhea.
- Test yourself for hypersensitivity
A variety of hypersensitivity and food allergies can cause swollen abdomen and stomach pain, such as intolerance to gluten, lactose and fructose. Go to your doctor or purchase a test at the pharmacy to find out if you need to exclude any of these foods.
After menopause we burn fewer calories and we pack on fat more easily as the result. This also makes females more susceptible to the problem of bloating.
A lot happens with the female body during menopause. Among other things, the metabolism is slightly lower because our muscle mass decreases slightly. We burn about 100 calories less than before, which corresponds to a banana a day. Does not sound so much, but if you continue to eat as usual and do increase physical activity, small indulgencies translate into extra pounds regretfully easily. Fat deposits around the stomach have to do a lot with bloating. After menopause, women who gain weight gain a more male obesity – we go from pearly shape to the hips to apple shape with stomach pains. And it’s bad for health because fat then gets closer to our internal organs.
The problem is that the fat after menopause ends up in the abdomen. And this is something that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, say doctors and researchers.
With the help of the diet, it is possible to reduce the risk of dangerous excesses on the stomach of women after menopause. The participants in the study were allowed to eat according to paleo, or stone age food as it is also called. It’s about clean unprocessed foods. The focus is on quality food and does not deal very much with proportions.
Stone age meals are probably good for all. However, the study focused on whether it is possible to reduce the bad fat, which lies around the waist, and address the problem of bloating in menopausal women.
An alternative to that is a diet free of gluten, since gluten sensitivity is what causes IBS symptoms and abdominal swelling in many people. Gluten, found in wheat, rye and grains, is increasingly associated with stomach problems and various disease states. In addition to bread and pasta, there is often gluten in semi-finished products and in more unexpected products like candy and ketchup.
Gluten appears to cause leakage in the intestine and causes minor inflammations. Many respond negatively to gluten, says Kristina Andersson, dietary advisor and nutritionist. Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disease and should not be confused with gluten sensitivity which can give more diffuse gastric problems. Test and exclude all gluten for two weeks and see if you feel better.
Most people feel better but not instantaneously, and it may take up to a week before the stomach behaves normally again. It does not have to be difficult to eat gluten free and you do not need to buy any special products if you do not want to. Eat something that is naturally gluten-free like potatoes, rice, buckwheat and vegetables. They are also usually cheaper than gluten-free products and contain more nutrients.
FODMAP diet to alleviate your stomach problems
Another solution for bloating is FODMAP diet. This approach allows foods with gluten content, which is good news if you can’t possibly live without pasta and pastries.
Instead of replacing milk or bread, you should review your lifestyle. Get more active and invest your money on fruits and vegetables. And do not eat the whole candy bag in one sitting.
If stomach problems still prevail, consult a physician and dietician before you go all gluten-free as a means of reducing the problem with bloating. Chances are that the solution spelled FODMAP (see list of foods to avoid below).
Researchers at Kings College in London and Melbournes Monash University now believe that certain types of carbohydrates, called FODMAP, are likely to cause chronic stomach pains and other symptoms often attributed to gluten intolerance.
FODMAP is a certain type of carbohydrates that are not absorbed as well in the small intestine. Researchers now mean that they cause stomach aches, bloating, gases and other symptoms that suffer from symptoms of IBS.
FODMAP is found in many foods, from dried fruit to milk, they are also found in some foods that contain gluten. So while bread, pasta and cereals based on wheat can give bowel symptoms, it is probably FODMAP – not gluten – which is the likely offender, believe the researchers.
Researchers in Britain and Australia say they manage to treat many (70%) with the symptoms of IBS and similar intestinal problems with just the FODMAP diet. Although FODMAP diet is a relatively new concept, chances are you will learn more about it in the future. But experts warn that you should not jump on FODMAP as a new trend diet. Although it is usually called a diet, experts stress that it is not a long-term way of eating but should be considered a diagnostic tool for dieticians.
Here is the FODMAP list:
Fruits (fruit sugar)
Avoid: Dried fruits, apples, pears, watermelon, honey
Choose instead: strawberries, banana, orange, pineapple
Lactose (milk sugar)
Avoid: cow’s milk and goat’s milk products
Choose instead: Lactose-free products and hard cheese
Oligosaccharides (dietary fiber)
Avoid: Cabbage, cashew nuts peas, asparagus, beans, lentils, onions, wheat and rye
Choose instead: oat-based products, rice, potato, tomato, carrot, zucchini
Sugar alcohols (sweeteners)
Avoid: candy, halibut and chewing gum sweetened with xylitol or sorbitol
Choose instead: Products sweetened with a small amount of common sugar or other sweeteners.
Bloating and carbohydrates
The phenomenon of bloated abdomen, which is actually due to dietary fiber sensitivity, affects many. This is how you recognize that your bloated belly is due to carbohydrates:
Bloating after eating vegetable soup is a classic. Cabbage, onion, garlic, peas, beans, fruit and whole grain products are rich in dietary fiber that the intestinal bacteria love to attach themselves to. What happens when we eat dietary fiber is the formation of gases and fatty acids that disturb the intestines. Our stomachs are not made for as many amounts of dietary fiber as the nutritional authorities recommend. Some of us simply tolerate more dietary fiber, which count into carbohydrates, others less.
Nutritionists usually recommend excluding whole grain products, fruits and all vegetables - except green leafy vegetables and peeled cucumbers – for a couple of weeks. If it works well, then you can add one food at a time, preferably in boiled or woked form, and try out what you can stand and how much of it is OK with your intestine.
IBS being a functional gastrointestinal disease that affects 20% of the world’s population, it is a fat chance (no pun indented) that you might be a sufferer for that. IBS basically means that you cannot find any problems in the stomach or intestines, they just do not work properly as they should. Common symptoms include swollen stomach, irregular gastrointestinal function with diarrhea, constipation or varying between them. The disease is harmless but can be really difficult to live with.
Here are 10 foods it may be worth taking care of:
Onions contain water-soluble fibers that can emit sensitive stomachs. In onion and garlic are also oligosaccharides, compound sugars, which ferment the gut and can cause gases.
- Beans, lentils and chickpeas
Legumes can really make it a sensitive stomach. However, many stomachs may get used to handling legumes if you eat a little and then stairs up. It may be worth testing tanned beans as they contain less amount of fiber and are considerably less comfortable for the stomach.
Cabbage contains so-called sugar alcohols that are both laxative and gas-forming. Even cauliflower and broccoli can cause trouble. In general, raw vegetables can produce more gases than cooked. If you cook vegetables, it may sometimes help if you pour the first boiling water out of boiling. Then pour water again and allow to boil until everything is ready.
Both pears and apples contain sugar alcohols that are gas-forming and laxative. Try to scale and tear the apple – it may make your stomach less bloated.
- Carbonated drinks
High intake of carbonated beverages (including mineral water) can cause problems with gases and bloating. Drink usually water instead.
Lactose may irritate the intestine and cause problems, especially if you are lactose intolerant. Choose milk and concentrate on calcium sources in the form of hard cheese, feta cheese, halloumi and mozzarella. Many also manage to eat natural yogurt.
- Rough bread
Really rough bread with whole grains and lots of fiber can make it for the sensitive stomach. Try sourdough bread, it works better for many.
Even the avocado contains sugar alcohols that are gas-forming and laxative.
Sweeteners have a laxative effect for the vast majority of people in excessive consumption, but if you have a sensitive stomach you can react to a very small amount. Avoid chewing gum and pills. By chewing chewing gum, you also swallow a lot of air, which can cause swollen stomach.
- Fried food
Fried food is very fat and difficult to melt and stays in the stomach for a long time.
The list of carbohydrates that give you swollen belly
Your upset stomach and bloating may be due to fragile carbohydrates. Here is the complete warning list!
Think about your eating habits, your stomach may protest against any of the following:
Most milk products contain some form of lactose. Many may be sensitive to lactose in periods, for example after a stressful period or a stomach ache. Try replacing milk, butter and yoghurt against lactose-free options.
Some fruits contain more fructose than others, apples and pears for example. Replace them with grapes, berries and citrus fruits, they get their sweetness from both fructose and glucose, making them easier to break down for the body.
Cereals such as wheat, rye and grains can sometimes upset the stomach. Then starch from rice, corn and oats can be a better option.
Sorbitol and xylitol are sugar alcohols that sweeten sugar-free candy, soda and chewing gum. If you want to avoid sugar, try out products sweetened with, for example, stevia instead.
Vegetables rich in galactan, for example beans, lentils, cabbage and chickpeas, can be a real concern for sensitive stomachs. Limit your intake if you suspect they are behind the problem and try to buy dried beans as you soak them at home. By replacing the water a couple of times, you make them more comfortable for your stomach.
How to get rid of bloating – and lose weight
Most of us work about the days, making the evenings the time of day when we can do everything else; Make food, work out, hang out with friends and family or just lie on the couch and stretch out with your favorite TV show.
BUT: the evening is also the time when problems with bloated and swollen stomachs can make a difference. The same goes for those who want to go down those stubborn pounds. Below we will list six small changes in the evening routines to help you along the way.
- Cook a moderately salted dinner
Pass on when you have a swollen stomach. When you eat a salty meal, the salt remains in the body and also binds fluid. Persons with normal salt intake may have up to 1.3 kg of extra body weight because of this. Place your bets with fresh vegetables and a protein sources instead.
- Exercise in the evening
Working out in the evening is definitely better than not working out at all. A common perception is that sleep may be disturbed if you exercise too close to bedtime, but a study by the National Sleep Foundation 2013 shows that people who are active also sleep better – no matter what time of day the exercise takes place. The training can also help against several of the negative effects of stress, which rather helps than stifles you with sleep.
- Fix the lunch box
Bringing your food box is not only economical – it’s also smarter if you want to lose weight. A regular outdoor lunch contains twice as much calories as you need at a seat, and more than if you want to lose weight, a study of JAMA Internal Medicine shows. So to save yourself the time and the stress of fixing the lunchbox before you go to work – prepare it the night before.
- Drink water
Removing literary water with water just before bedtime is not what we recommend to do (if you do not enjoy sleeping in the toilet). But water is vital to us, and boosts both brain, skin, immune system – and not least the stomach! By drinking more water, you get the body to release the fluid it stores. But stop drinking an hour before bedtime.
- Make it darker in the bedroom
Melatonin is our sleep hormone, but it also helps us to produce the calorie-burning, brown fat. Melatonin is formed in the body when it is dark around us, so it may be a good idea to make sure your bedroom is darkened as you lay down. Sleep scientists have discovered that the smallest light source can cause the body to produce up to 50 percent less of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Pull down the thermostat
The calories we burn when we sleep are perhaps less than in a vigilant state – but do not underestimate those burned in the sleep mde. And by lowering the temperature in the bedroom, you can burn even more, according to a study from the National Institute of Health Clinical Center. The results show that by sleeping in a 19-degree room instead of in a 24-degree you can increase your metabolism by about 7 percent.
If everything fails, do not put off that visit to a doctor. And whatever you do, do not give up fighting for a flatter stomach – it is just around the corner once you find the core of the problem, whether you do it at home following our elaborate guide or with the help of a healthcare specialist. Here’s to a better quality of life, bloating-free!