How common is it to feel bloated?
Short answer: quite common. Long answer: up to 75% of women report feeling bloated before and during their period. Between 10% and 25% of otherwise healthy people complain about occasional bloating and gas. Fortunately, bloating is usually a short-term issue that resolves on its own. However, as many as 75% describe their bloating as moderate to severe, and for some, bloating is a chronic problem. The stats are stacked: bloating is a common complaint with a myriad of dietary, lifestyle, and health factors.
What causes bloating?
With so many people feeling bloated, you’d think the cause would be clear. And in some ways it is. Bloating is simply when the gastrointestinal tract becomes distended with excess gas, but why that gas is stuck in the intestines is less clear. Here are the most common reasons (though not a conclusive list):
Eating too quickly
Food intolerances such as lactose or fructose
Gut sensitivity, such as people with IBS
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Gastroparesis, a.k.a. delayed stomach emptying
An imbalanced gut microbiome, also called dysbiosis
As with most everything, if your bloating doesn’t resolve with dietary and lifestyle changes, and if it causes chronic moderate to severe pain, we recommend talking to your doctor about what might be causing it.
Can you get rid of bloating?
If you’re already bloated, there are luckily a few simple things you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
First of all: get moving. Going for a walk can get your bowels moving which helps release excess gas. And certain yoga poses, such as Child’s Pose and Happy Baby Pose, help relieve gas buildup.
Drinking herbal teas can also help debloat your belly. Look for peppermint tea, chamomile, or any tea blend that contains ginger, turmeric, or fennel. These can all aid digestion and help process gas. Of course, drinking water also helps, and tea is water, so…win/win.
Eat fiber-filled foods. ‘Nuff said. You need to get those bowels moving.
Lastly, there are probiotics that help alleviate occasional bloating and gas. Clostridium butyricum is a beneficial bacteria that is naturally found in the gut microbiome. Studies have shown that it targets multiple pathways in the gut that are linked with gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating. Try Butyricum, as it contains Clostridium butyricum, a daily probiotic that helps relieve occasional gas and bloating.
Can you prevent bloating?
As with most things, prevention is key. Typically, the first line of treatment to prevent bloating is to change your diet. Research has shown that a low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diet can reduce bloating as well as other gastrointestinal issues. A low FODMAP diet avoids fermentable, gas-producing food ingredients, such as wheat, onions, garlic, milk, dairy, fructose, and sugar alcohols. It’s important to note that this is a highly restrictive diet that is temporary. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting any diet, and especially one as restrictive as FODMAP since it eliminates so many foods.
There are other, less restrictive changes you can make to prevent bloating long term, such as:
Drink enough water. Keeping your body hydrated encourages motility along your entire digestive tract so you don’t get constipated.
Eat enough fiber. Fiber is a prebiotic that helps support the beneficial bacteria in your gut. It also helps your digestive system clear itself with regular bowel movements.
Get moving. Exercise keeps your bowels moving which in turn releases excess gas from your intestines.
Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are low in fiber and high in salt and fat which causes water retention and constipation.
Lastly, eat a diet rich in polyphenols to create a thriving gut microbiome. Introduce good gut bacteria with food and probiotics. Do your best to stress less and move more (easier said than done, we know). Think of bloating as your guts way of telling you it’s not totally happy. And a happy gut is what we all want.