7 Ways to Alleviate Bloating
Everyone experiences bloating. While bloating can be normal, for some people bloating can be painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. Bloating is also highly individual - one person’s experience of bloating might be very different from someone else’s. For example
- Some people experience bloating with gas (both belching or flatulence);
- Some people have painful bloating. For people with visceral hypersensitivity, nerve endings in the gut are sensitive and have a lower threshold, triggering pain;
- Some people wake up bloated;
- Some people experience bloating that is relieved when they have a bowel movement;
- Some people find that their bloating builds as the day progresses.
Bloating is not a medical condition itself, rather a symptom of something else. It can relate to slow gut motility, food intolerances, stress/anxiety, disturbance in microbial balance in the gut, and chronic gastrointestinal conditions.
It’s important to first visit with your doctor who can provide assessment and diagnose any underlying conditions related to bloating (e.g. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Celiac Disease, chronic constipation, and many others).
Here are 7 strategies that may help to alleviate bloating:
1) Eat more slowly and chew food well. The better food is chewed, the more efficient digestion is;
2) Choose smaller, but more frequent meals and snacks. This will help to keep you nourished, energized, and satisfied without getting too hungry, which can increase the chance of eating large amounts all at once. Less food at once = more efficient digestion;
3) Consider your beverage. Alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine can contribute to bloating. Re-think your drink with a larger meal or during a mid-afternoon slump (have a snack to boost energy levels instead). Carbonated beverages add to the gas you swallow which only contributes to worsened bloating;
4) Drink strong peppermint tea (2 bags per cup). Peppermint is a carminative meaning it relaxes and soothes the gut muscles. If peppermint triggers reflux, purchase an enteric coated peppermint extract such as IBGard. Because is doesn't break down until the small intestine it won't contribute to reflux;
5) Increase fibre. Fibre helps people with sluggish colon motility. It can act as a laxative, but also helps strengthen the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. Psyllium fibre is a soluble fibre well tolerated by most people;
6) Manage stress. This can be a contributor to bloating due to the complex connections between your brain and your enteric nervous system, which governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract;
7) Move your body. Movement helps with gas clearance and stress reduction.
Bloating is highly unique from person to person and understanding it requires careful assessment. Visit your doctor if your bloating is affecting your quality of life. Describe it in detail. Then meet with a dietitian experienced in gastrointestinal disorders, who can help you to learn how to manage your bloating and the underlying condition that may be connected to it.