Bloating is a common problem that leaves sufferers feeling full and uncomfortable, often with a tender stomach. While most people have occasional bloating, particularly after a large meal, some people experience bloating on a regular basis, making it difficult to enjoy food and affecting the quality of life. Here are some common causes of stomach bloating and natural ways to relieve it.
What Causes Bloating
Certain foods lead to extra gas production in the body, causing excess wind, bloating and other digestive problems. Beans, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, apples, pears, peaches, and asparagus can all promote gas production. Fizzy drinks are also responsible for excess gas, particularly those containing caffeine. Some people are more sensitive than others to gas-producing foods, but a simple food elimination diet should help to identify problem foods.
Food sensitivity or intolerance is a common problem, with many people experiencing a reaction to particular foods, most notably wheat, dairy and foods containing gluten. Symptoms of food intolerance are wide and varied, with digestive disturbances, tiredness, and headaches being the most common. The type of food or food group causing a reaction can vary greatly, so it’s important to seek advice from a doctor or nutritionist, as they will be able to help identify problem foods.
Celiac disease is a long-term health condition that is characterized by the inability to digest gluten. Gluten is a protein found in common grains, including wheat, rye, and barley, as well as many processed foods. Sufferers of celiac disease experience bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, and other symptoms after eating foods containing gluten. Celiac disease can only be diagnosed by a doctor.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common health problem that encompasses a wide range of symptoms, including bloating, gas, trapped wind, abdominal pain, constipation, and fatigue. The cause of IBS is unknown, but symptoms are often exacerbated by stress, alcohol and certain foods. As there is no specific medical test for IBS, the condition is usually only diagnosed once other health problems have been ruled out. Treatment is focused on symptomatic relief, with several medicines available to help alleviate excess wind and reduce bloating.
Constipation can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes painful, with bloating and excess wind being common symptoms. Constipation can be the result of nutritional deficiencies, a lack of dietary fiber or even stress. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber is the best way to avoid constipation, but nutritional supplements or medical treatment may be needed for chronic cases. In addition, increasing fluid intake can also help to promote healthy bowel function.
Another common cause of bloating is swallowing air, which can occur while eating, drinking or hyperventilating. People with anxiety disorders often experience bloating, as hyperventilation and irregular breathing patterns can lead to gulping excess air, which causes trapped wind and bloating. Similarly, eating and drinking too quickly or while talking can result in swallowing too much air. Breathing exercises can help to prevent hyperventilation while eating more slowly can prevent swallowing air during a meal.
Bloating is also a common symptom associated with the menstrual cycle, with many women experiencing fluid retention and bloating in the week before their period. Occasionally, bloating may be caused by a serious illness, such as ovarian cancer, so it’s important to see your doctor if the condition gets worse.
Home Remedies to Relieve Bloating
Bloating is uncomfortable and can make you feel unattractive. The good news is there are supplements and dietary changes that can help you to quickly feel better. Consider trying some of these home remedies.
Savory is a herb that is effective for reducing the accumulation of gas in the digestive tract. It is useful for treating indigestion, colic, and diarrhea. Drinking it as a tea is the recommended way to take it to reduce symptoms of bloating.
Peppermint helps digestion and reduces GI inflammation.
Peppermint Essential oil has anti-spasmodic properties. It is effective for relieving stomach pain, distension and flatulence. Simply place 4 drops of oil mixed with a carrier oil onto your abdomen and rub it in.
Peppermint tea can also beneficial for alleviating digestive issues. You can use commercial tea bags or make your own with dried leaves.
Bromelain is an enzyme obtained from the stem and core of a pineapple. It is a natural enzyme that eases digestion by breaking down protein and helps the body to more efficiently absorb nutrients. Studies have shown that it can help reduce inflammation and heal tissues in the digestive tract.
Bromelain is present in all parts of the pineapple but, the highest concentration is in the core. The easiest way to consume a pineapple core is to juice it. You may want to add it to a smoothie. Four ounces per day is the suggested amount to alleviate bloating. It is also available as a commercial supplement.
Cayenne is a powerful and beneficial spice for digestive issues. It is a GI stimulant that enhances the speed and efficiency of digestion. Cayenne can be added to food. I suggest starting with 1/8 tsp and gradually increasing to1/2 tsp per day. You can also consume it as a drink. Add cayenne powder to a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and an optional tablespoon of maple syrup.
Cinnamon is known for its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels, but it is also a great digestive aid. It is capable of relieving symptoms of acid reflux, causes, indigestion, gas, and cramps. 1/2 -1 teaspoon per day is the recommended dose.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot oil comes from the rind of a bergamot orange. It works by calming and relaxing the stomach while reducing the feeling of fullness. This oil can be consumed internally by adding 10 drops to a cup of hot tea. Earl Grey tea tastes great with the addition of Bergamot.
You can also massage 4 drops with a carrier oil externally on your stomach for a relaxing and comforting effect.
Parsley is more than just a decorative plate garnish. It is a GI stimulant and a natural diuretic. Some of its benefits include reducing bloat, water retention, gas, and indigestion. Fresh parsley can easily be added to foods and drinks
Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Your body naturally produces 3 enzymes ( amylase, lipase and protease) that work in cohesion to process protein, fat, and starch. Some peoples do not make enough of these enzymes, resulting in poor absorption of food and digestive ailments.
That individual may want to consider purchasing pancreatic enzyme supplements. Research has shown that these supplements can be helpful in reducing gas, bloat, and distention, after the consumption of a high-fat meal.
Stomach bloating is a common and frustrating problem. It not only causes physical discomfort, but it can also cause embarrassment and low self-esteem. The good news is that a relief can often be found with dietary changes and supplements.
Do you have problems with bloating? What remedies have worked for you?
Let me know in the comments below.