There’s a certain joy in taking a big bite of something delicious. But the food baby you get after that can be pretty unpleasant, leading to stomach bloating (and often gas). Thankfully, there are ways you can naturally reduce stomach bloating — and we’re about to share some of them with you.
What Is Stomach Bloating?
It’s no secret that Americans love to eat. Eating is an integral part of our culture. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we’re eating at all times of the day. And unless you’re someone who fasts like a monk between meals, chances are good that you’ll have some stomach bloating from your daily meals.
Stomach bloating occurs when an excessive amount of gas in the GI tract causes pressure on the walls of your stomach or intestines, causing them to expand. This can be caused by overeating or eating certain foods that cause excess gas production in the gut.
A bloated stomach feels tight, full, and sometimes painful. You may notice that your clothes fit differently than usual because of how swollen your belly looks and feels.
What Causes Stomach Bloating?
Stomach bloating is one of the most common symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Your gut is your body’s second brain. It houses more than 100 million neurons capable of sending signals to the brain and the rest of the body. Your gut also contains more than 100 trillion bacteria that help you digest food and absorb nutrients at a cellular level.
When these bacteria are out of balance or disrupted, they may release gases into the digestive tract that cause bloating. But what causes this imbalance?
There are several possible causes of bloating, including:
SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It’s common in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders, but anyone can get it. The condition may cause gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, and belching or passing gas from the upper GI tract.
To diagnose SIBO, your doctor will probably perform a hydrogen breath test (HBT). HBT measures the amount of hydrogen in your breath, indicating bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
SIFO (small intestinal fungal overgrowth)
Small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) is a digestive disorder caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the small intestine, which leads to the malabsorption of nutrients and chronic diarrhea.
People with SIFO tend to experience excessive gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and abdominal pain.
Antibiotics are a wonder drug, but they can also be a double-edged sword. These prescription drugs kill bacteria (good and bad), so when you take them, your body is left with fewer beneficial bacteria than before. And if you’re taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection, there’s a good chance that the good bacteria in your gut have been wiped out.
Antacids/ Acid-blocking Drugs
Antacids are designed to reduce the amount of stomach acid produced by your body. They are commonly used to treat heartburn, indigestion, and other conditions where excess acid production is thought to be the problem.
However, taking antacids also depletes your body with beneficial bacteria. Antacids work by lowering the pH levels in your stomach, which helps reduce acidity and prevent damage to the lining of your digestive tract. So, while you may not have heartburn, you end up getting irritable bowel and bloating.
H. pylori is the most common cause of stomach ulcers and the leading cause of stomach cancer. It’s also a major contributor to bloating and belching.
When you have H. pylori, your immune system produces antibodies to fight the bacteria. These antibodies attack your stomach cells, causing inflammation in the gut and damage that can lead to ulcers.
If you have H. pylori, you’re more likely to get indigestion or heartburn after eating, especially if you eat spicy foods or fatty meals. You may also experience bloating and stomach pain after eating these foods.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It’s different from a milk allergy, which causes symptoms such as hives and gastrointestinal upset.
Lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine doesn’t have enough of an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme breaks down lactose into simpler forms that the body can absorb. When sugars are not digested properly, they can cause discomfort in the stomach and bloating.
Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that’s often used as a sweetener in foods and drinks. They have fewer calories than sugar but more calories than starch or protein.
Because of this, some people use them to reduce the calorie content of their food. But sugar alcohols can also cause digestive problems like bloating, cramping, and diarrhea if you eat too much of them. Moreover, many people report that eating too much sugar alcohol makes it harder for them to lose weight.
How to Get Rid of Stomach Bloating
It’s important to figure out what’s causing the bloating so you can determine the best course of action. Do you think it’s caused by SIBO? Or maybe you eat too much in one sitting? Maybe it’s a side effect of taking antacid? Or could it be something else altogether?
Once you’ve pinpointed the cause, it’s time to work on getting rid of stomach bloating. There are a few different things you can do to reduce bloating, including:
Bloating can be caused by a variety of factors, but one of the first things we always start with is dietary changes. And one of the most effective ways to switch up your diet is with a low-FODMAPs diet.
The low-FODMAPs diet has been around for a while now and is one of the most effective ways to reduce bloating and improve gut health. This diet restricts the intake of certain types of carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs.
FODMAPs are short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that are found in many common foods. These foods include garlic, onions, apples, pears, watermelon, mushrooms, dairy products (especially milk), beans and legumes, wheat, and rye.
But not to worry! There are plenty of healthy options out there that you can enjoy on this diet—like vegetables like carrots or zucchini (yum). You can also eat small portions of some fruits like strawberries or blueberries and gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice if you don’t have celiac disease or another type of gluten sensitivity.
This diet isn’t meant to be a weight loss plan. Instead, it’s designed as a way to help people with IBS manage their symptoms and feel better overall. It’s important to find the right balance of foods that work for you and your body.
If you’re still feeling symptoms after trying the low-FODMAP diet for a few weeks, talk with your doctor about what could be causing them or if another type of diet may be helpful.
Repair The Gut
It’s not just about diet —it’s also about the state of your gut. In fact, the health of your GI tract can have a huge impact on how bloated you feel and even how much weight you gain or lose.
That’s why it’s important to focus on repairing your gut before trying to lose weight or fix other health issues. But if we are talking about a microbiome issue, it’s a little trickier.
The first thing you need to know is that probiotics aren’t always work for everyone. In fact, they can make things worse if they’re not right for your body chemistry (yes, there is such a thing). So please be aware that repairing the gut is not as simple as just taking a probiotic.
So, you’ll want to repair the gut with supplements and meds if needed. That way, you can start to get rid of all the toxins in your body that might be causing bloating.
Once you’ve done that, ensure you’re eating healthy foods that will help keep your digestion working properly. You can also start taking probiotics once you feel like your digestion is back to normal. This is going to take some time, so don’t expect things to change overnight.
At the end of the day, the absolute best way to get rid of stomach bloating is to have a healthy gut. While the process may not be instantaneous, you’ll be much better off if you take steps to improve your overall digestive health.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting rid of stomach bloating, make an appointment with us. We can help you figure out the root cause of your stomach bloating and discuss strategies for managing it. Book an appointment here.