If your belly feels stuffed and your jeans need a little extra room, then probably your belly is bloated and it is time to make a change, in diet and exercise, though these alone cannot rid you of a bloated belly.
What is belly bloating?
Bloating is defined as swelling of the abdomen resulting in increased waist diameter due to retained fluids or gas. Bloating is different from being fat, as here the bloated tissues have a normal percentage of fat cells. The belly is swollen due to excess fluids and gas. Most often women seek to reduce belly bloating by reducing calories and increasing exercise. But belly bloating calls for more than these to manage the problem.
Common symptoms of belly bloat
It is observed that those with belly bloat suffer two or more of the symptoms listed below:
Clues to detect stomach bloat
One best way is to probably look at the mirror and detect if you are bulging in other places or just on the stomach. Check whether the bulge is localized or widespread in other parts of the body as well. Do you see layers of fat covering your thighs, hips and buttocks and not just the stomach? Are you skinny everywhere except the abdomen which is bloated?
Pressing your stomach can also help tell if it is fat or bloat. Fat is normally spongy when pressure is applied whereas, bloat is generally tight and firm. If you can grab one or more inch of your stomach using your thumb and fingers, then it is fat. If you are bloated, you will not able to do this as the abdomen is stretched out and too tight.
Duration is another clue to source of the belly bulge. Fat cells build up over time and do not go away easily when formed. However, bloating can come and go and sometimes it is just in a matter of hours. If your stomach starts flat and balloons through the day, it is bloating. Bloating is almost always accompanied by pain. The presence of discomfort, belching or gas indicates that your stomach is bloating.
Causes of belly bloat
In the US, almost 80% of the population suffers from a fungal infection called Candida. This is naturally occurring yeast that lives in the human mouth and gastrointestinal tract. While under normal conditions, Candida resides in human bodies without any side effects, it can also over grow the other organisms in our digestive tract and create imbalance, resulting in fungal infection of sorts.
People suffering from Candida complain of heartburn, fatigue, vaginal yeast infections in women, headaches and migraines, sinusitis, brain fog, muscle weakness, joint pain and constant pain under the left rib cage.
Any disease with intestinal inflammation or obstruction such as Crohn's disease or colon cancer can also cause abdominal bloating.
Those who have undergone operations, adhesions, or internal hernias can also experience bloating and pain. Eating a lot of fatty food can delay stomach emptying and cause bloating and discomfort.
Other common causes of belly bloating include:
Solution to belly bloat
Since just dieting and exercising at random and consuming pills do not work with belly bloat, without knowing the underlying cause, it is best advised to consult the doctor first.
However, belly bloating can be dealt with in some simple ways:
Avoid the following belly bloating foods:
Flat belly foods
In contrast, it would be good for you to consume flat belly foods, some of which are listed below:
Although having gas is common, it can be quite uncomfortable and embarrassing. Gas is primarily odorless vapor - it could be carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odor of gas comes from bacteria in the large intestine that releases small amounts of gases that contain sulfur.
Air swallowing is a common cause of gas. Most allow a small amount of gas to be swallowed while eating and drinking. Burping and belching allows nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide to leave the stomach. The remaining gas which gets into the small intestine is partially absorbed. A small amount travels to the large intestine where it is partially absorbed and partially released through the rectum.
It is commonly believed that too much of gas in the abdomen causes bloating. Doctors believe that bloating is usually the result of intestinal disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome. This disorder gives a sensation of bloating because of increased sensitivity to gas.
Some experience pain when gas is present in the intestine. When the left side of the colon is painful, it can be confused with heart ailment. When the gas is on the right side of the colon, it mimics gallstones and appendicitis.
Doctors advise to consume fewer foods that cause gas. Limiting high fat foods can reduce bloating and discomfort. This helps stomach empty faster, and allows gases to move into the small intestine. However, dietary changes can be learnt only through trial and error and how much of the offending foods one can handle.
Natural and safe tips to beat belly bloating
Digestive bitter herbs are food for the digestive system and they stimulate the flow of saliva and the digestive tract. Carminative herbs are gas reducing like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, fennel and lemon balm.
Avoid eating beans, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. Dairy products in people with lactose intolerance can cause bloating and gas. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs like antidepressants, iron pills, antihistamines may cause bloating, especially on initial intake.
Decreasing stress, eating slowly, limiting liquids during mealtime, chewing thoroughly and eating regularly can help proper functioning of the digestive system and lessen bloating.