belly bloat

Belly Bloat

Let’s talk bloating.  Belly bloat is something most of us suffer from at some point in our lives.  For most, it’s the occasional bloat, usually caused by overeating or eating too quickly. However, many suffer from daily bloat and that can be pretty annoying.  

Occasional bloat is perfectly normal.  Daily bloat is not normal.  Let’s chat about why bloating occurs, what you can do to overcome bloating short term, and things you need to think about in order to overcome bloat long-term. 

What causes bloating?

Let’s talk quickly about what bloating is.  Bloating is where you’ve eaten any amount of food, small or large, or perhaps haven’t eaten at all but you still feel like you’ve stuffed yourself at a holiday meal. It’s usually accompanied by abdominal distention (typical puffing of the belly during bloat), excessive gas, pressure in the belly, and the belly is usually hard to the touch.  Go ahead and add discomfort to this list because being bloated does not feel good.

It’s important to know that chronic bloat is not normal.  I’ve had several individuals reach out to me for weight loss and didn’t give their bloating a second thought because they thought it was normal.  It is not.  If you have chronic bloating, reach out to me so we can get you set up for an appointment.  

Now…moving on.

There are a variety of reasons that we get a bloated belly.  If it’s the occasional bloat, it’s likely due to eating too quickly or eating a food we know we shouldn’t consume, such as milk if we are lactose intolerant. The chronic or long-term bloating is what is concerning.

Chronic bloat happens for a few reasons.  Some we will chat about and some we won’t (surgeries, periods, etc).  Here are the common reasons for bloating I see in my office:

  • Continual intake of foods your body doesn’t agree with (food sensitivities)
  • Delayed emptying of the stomach (gastroparesis) 
  • Intestinal disorders (IBS, IBD, etc)
  • Displaced or inadequate microbes (dysbiosis, SIBO, etc)

Finding the cause of the bloat is important to ensuring we can get it under control. It’s important to know that you don’t have to live with it!

Top 3 immediate remedies

There are a variety of remedies floating around the internet today that help reduce bloat.  Here are my top 3 that I like to employ with clients. 

1. Peppermint

Sometimes bloating occurs due to cramping and spasm within the digestive tract. This can create unwanted gas, abdominal pain, and bloat. This is where peppermint can be helpful.

Peppermint can be relaxing to the stomach and intestines because it contains antispasmodic properties. Drinking peppermint tea before or after meals can be helpful.  Some find it helpful to rub peppermint essential oil on their abdomen. I’ve not found this to be very effective.  

Another option is enteric coated peppermint capsules 3-4x daily before meals.  The enteric coating is important.  This allows for the capsule to not break down and open inside the stomach.  We want the cap to reach the small intestine before disintegrating.  Many find relief from both acute and chronic bloating by adding this in to their daily regimen.  

2. Ginger Lemon Tea

I talked extensively about inflammation in my last blog titled Ginger, Turmeric, and Inflammation.  Ginger or lemon are great for reducing bloat.  Ginger helps to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes in the mouth, which trigger a waterfall effect for the other digestive enzymes in the body.  

I myself suffer from chronic bloat due to IBS and gastroparesis.  Sometimes, I’ll suck on a small piece of ginger as I’m cooking and find that really helps reduce post meal bloat.  I also find that sipping warm lemon water after a meal helps as well. My favorite is to pair the two in a tea after meals. You can find my recipe in my previous blog here!

3. Coconut Water

Sometimes we bloat due to a high intake of sodium.  If you tend to consume boxed, packaged, or processed foods, you likely have a higher sodium intake than you think.  When we take in high amounts of sodium, our body tends to retain water.  Potassium helps to trigger the kidneys to remove the sodium from the body.  

Coconut water is high in potassium.  This trick doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth a shot.  Drink 4-6 oz of unsweetened coconut water in between meals. 

Things to consider to overcome bloating long-term

Finding the source of your bloating is going to be key to overcoming it.  As we found, bloating usually occurs due to dietary habits. Sometimes it’s the way we eat but usually it’s the things that we eat.  The bloat will never get better if you don’t address the root cause.  Adopting a specialized diet will allow the digestive tract to calm down so the body can repair and renew itself.  

The important thing to remember is that a bloated belly can be fixed!  It’s not something you’re sentenced to dealing with for the rest of your life.  Some come in and we can get their bloat under control in a matter of weeks.  Others with more complex cases can take longer.

Is bloating an issue for you?  If so, what’s your favorite remedy or what have you found to be the source of your bloat? Comment below…you never know when you may be able to help someone else out.

Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS

I'm Sunny! I'm a board-certified clinical nutritionist with an MS in Clinical Nutrition. I help individuals reduce fatigue, eliminate bloat, and lose weight by healing the digestive tract and balancing hormones. I provide individual and group nutrition consultations nationwide. Join my closed Facebook group today! https://www.facebook.com/groups/140571826548289/

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