Pants feeling too tight? Tummy looking a bit distended? Feeling uncomfortable and full? All of these may be symptoms of belly bloat. Some of you may experience that bloated feeling more than others, but virtually everyone knows what it feels and looks like. Bloating is caused by many things, ranging from overeating to a serious medical condition, but what are the top reasons for a bloated belly? Let’s take a look.
Eating to the point of being uncomfortable generally happens during holiday time, but it can happen any day of the week. Overeating is the most common cause of bloat. When you eat, you invariably swallow air, which mixes with the gases in your stomach that are created when food is digested. The faster you eat, the more air you swallow, and the greater the tendency to experience bloat. In this case, the best way to help alleviate bloat is to eat smaller meals, and eat them slowly. Chew your food and take your time.
Drinking Carbonated Beverages
Drinking sodas and other carbonated beverages are other common causes of bloating. The “sparkling” part of your favorite flavored water is full of gas, which can get trapped, mostly in your esophagus, but also a little in your stomach. Too much of that gas can cause stomach distention and a bloated appearance. Although an ice-cold soda or sparkling water can be refreshing on a hot summer day, a distended tummy on the beach or at the pool is not a “fun” look. Stick to “still” water and drinks to avoid the bloat.
Too Much Sodium and Water Retention
Many things cause water retention, and some of these things are also causes of bloating on their own. However, consuming too much sodium is a primary cause of retained fluid in the body. Not only will eating salty foods make you feel thirsty, it also causes you to feel overfull and uncomfortable. The body wants to maintain a balance between water and sodium, so the body actually holds onto water. Drinking water is the best way to counteract this issue. Keeping hydrated flushes the additional sodium out of the system.
A food intolerance occurs when the body is unable to properly digest a food, such as dairy products, wheat, or sugar. Sometimes it is because the body lacks the correct enzyme to breakdown the food, which is the case with lactose, the sugar found in dairy products, and sucrose, which is table sugar. The undigested food travels through the digestive tract and can cause gas, abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, and occasionally constipation. In some cases, a supplement or medical therapy can be used to aid in the digestion of the food while in other cases, the food needs to be avoided altogether.
Chronic Gastrointestinal Conditions
Sometimes the situation is far more severe than eating too much. This is the case with chronic gut conditions such as gastroparesis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Each of these conditions share bloating and gas as a symptom of the illness. But other, far more serious symptoms, generally accompany these diseases. If gas and bloating persist over a long period of time along with symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, or frequent and urgent bowel movements, it is important to see your doctor right away.
These various causes represent only a handful of the many reasons that bloating can occur. Of course there are many others, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women and consuming too much caffeine. One thing that can be agreed on is that regardless of why tummy bloat occurs, it never feels good.
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