Why Am I Bloated?
Bloating is a common complaint, but do you know what is causing it?
When you get that ‘too-full feeling’ in your belly. you might think it’s from eating too much
But it’s not always from food, it may be you are bloated because your body is holding on to too much water or you are having a specific reaction to something you ate.
It is always possible that there could be a hidden health issue you are not aware of, so let’s see just what might be the cause.
Most people who think they’re bloated because they have gas and are just more sensitive to it. Gas in your stomach is primarily caused by swallowing air when you eat or drink and most is released when you burp.
Gas forms in your large intestine (colon) when bacteria ferment carbohydrates — fibre, some starches and some sugars — that aren’t digested in your small intestine.
This is usually related to a health condition and possible causes include irritable bowel syndrome (when nerves linked to your bowel are too active), acid reflux (which irritates your oesophagus, the tube between your throat and stomach), and haemorrhoids.
If this is happening to you a lot it is worth talking to your doctor to have it investigated.
Your body needs this, but most of us get more than we need. It makes you hold on to — or retain — water and can cause more serious health problems like high blood pressure.
And it’s not just the saltshaker you should avoid: If you’re like many of us, most of your salt comes from prepackaged and fast foods.
Check food labels for salt (sodium) levels and remember: Just because you don’t taste it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Too many carbohydrates
Carbohydrates give your body fuel it can use quickly. But too many at once can make you retain water and the faster they get into your blood, the more likely that is.
Simple carbohydrates — white bread, sweets, pastries, and soft drinks — enter your blood almost instantly. Complex carbohydrates — whole grains, fruit, and vegetables — don’t because they take longer to digest.
Probably the easiest, and quickest, to identify. Your stomach is only about the size of your fist and although it can stretch to accommodate what you are eating, that can make you feel bloated.
This is especially true if you eat lots of salty food and carbohydrates. So check your diet and always stop eating before you feel full.
Those bubbles may make you feel sparkly, whether in soft drinks, wine, beer, an even champagne but champagne, they are filled with gas.
When you drink them, they can fill up your digestive system. You may burp some of it away, but once the gas reaches your intestines, it stays until you pass it.
Also as many/most soft drinks often are full of sugar, which can make you hold on to water and feel bloated.
Eating too fast
The faster you eat, the more air you swallow. And like with bubbly drinks, once that air passes to your intestine, it can make you feel bloated.
It can take 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’re full, so you can eat enough to make yourself bloated and uncomfortable before your brain gets the message.
Most people are a little irregular from time to time, and that can make you feel bloated. Some foods can cause it, along with not drinking enough water, sudden changes in your diet, or stress.
It usually passes on its own, but exercise and a diet which has plenty of water and fibre can help.
Foods like milk and ice cream can cause gas, belly pain, and bloating if your body can’t easily digest a dairy sugar called lactose. It’s not usually serious, but it’s a good idea to avoid milk products and look for lactose-free alternatives.
This is not the same as an allergy to dairy, where your body’s immune system treats it like a dangerous invader. That can be more serious, causing hives, vomiting, and bloody stools.
If you’ve gained 10 or more pounds in the past year, you may feel bloated because that weight often goes on around your belly. That takes up space and leaves less room for your stomach to stretch.
Unfortunately weight gain around the middle is not healthy and often linked to oestrogen dominance as it is one of the indicators.
Check your hormone balance and use a balanced, nutritious diet and supporting supplements to help you lose some weight.
This is a kind of sugar, and as it’s harder for your body to break down than other kinds that can lead to gas, bloating, and pain.
It’s in lots of foods in the form of “high fructose corn syrup,” and it happens naturally in some like fruit (especially dried fruit) as well as honey, onions, and garlic.
A food diary can help you keep track of how you feel after you eat certain foods and figure out if this is a problem for you.
We all need a certain amount as it is essential for our body to make cell walls, nerve tissue (like your brain), and hormones.
But too much can make you bloated because your body takes longer to break it down than other types of food. That means it sticks around longer.
So do check your intake as it is also high in calories and can make you gain weight if you’re not careful — and that can make you feel bloated, too.
We tend to think of this as I need colouring in younger women, but unfortunately in my experience I hear from a considerable number of women who are in Peri/menopause or even later who are still suffering from this.
PMS, can make some women feel tired, achy, and irritable the week or so before their period. It also makes you hold on to water, which can make you feel bloated.
The cause is unclear, but hormones seem to play a part many women to find that balancing with progesterone seems to be very helpful for this condition.
It can also help to exercise and stay away from salt, sugar, and simple carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates are digested near the end of your intestine, where bacteria feed on them. For some people, this can cause gas and fluid buildup, belly pain, and bloating.
FODMAPs are in some fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy — asparagus, garlic, pears, mangoes, peaches, wheat pasta, and rye bread are examples.
Keep a food diary to keep track of foods that affect you, and ask a nutritionist or doctor if FODMAPs might be to blame.
This is when your body responds to gluten — a protein in wheat, barley, rye, and many prepackaged foods — by attacking the lining of your intestine (part of your digestive system).
It can cause diarrhoea, weight loss, pain in the belly area, and lots of gas, which can make you feel bloated. There’s no cure, but you can manage your symptoms if you stay away from foods that have gluten.
When is it serious?
Most of the time, you can manage bloating on your own. But if you also feel weak or lose your appetite, or have diarrhoea, weight loss, fever, belly pain, or blood in your stool, talk to your doctor.
To find out what’s going on, they may take a stool sample or an X-ray of your small intestine, or test you for lactose intolerance or coeliac disease.
Bloating feels uncomfortable, and can be quite stressful as you find clothes too tight and if you are also flushing or sweating that can make it even worse.
Do check your hormone balances oestrogen dominance is a factor, and if trying to lose weight a specific diet that addresses that can also help. Nutritionist Patrick Holford also has some interesting tips in his article below.