Stomach bloating is so common these days that it’s been called an “epidemic.” If you frequently deal with distention, digestive discomfort and a bloated stomach, you probably want to know: Why do I feel bloated all the time?
With most people’s poor diets, high levels of stress, need for daily medications and exposure to various pollutants, it’s no wonder they suffer some sort of bloating more days than not.
While a bloated stomach is certainly uncomfortable — even embarrassing when it comes along with gas or the need to run to the bathroom — it might be an even bigger deal than you think. Below we’ll look closer at reasons you may deal with an inflated belly, plus discuss bloated stomach remedies, such as foods to focus on and those to avoid.
What Is Stomach Bloating?
What is stomach bloating a sign of? Can it point to an underlying health condition?
Luckily, in many cases, it isn’t anything to be alarmed about. It can usually be cleared up by making some simple changes to your diet and routine, although not always.
For many people, the cause of excessive gas in the intestines boils down to:
- Inadequate protein digestion (causing some foods to ferment)
- Inability to break down sugar and carbohydrates fully (certain complex sugar compounds need the presence of enzymes to be digested fully, yet people can lack these)
- Imbalances in gut bacteria (in the digestive tract, there are trillions of healthy and unhealthy bacteria that compete, and when “bad bacteria” outweigh the good for one reason or another, an imbalance can lead to abdominal bloating and excessive gas)
Stomach bloating can however sometimes signify serious health problems lurking below the surface. For example, it’s one of the most common candida symptoms and also tends to develop when from other conditions, including allergies, hormonal imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, gut troubles and inflammatory bowel disease.
Other potential causes of bloating can include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome, especially if you’re constipated
- Digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Fluid retention
- Food allergies or sensitivities, including celiac disease or lactose intolerance
- Infection in the gut
- Bowel obstruction
- Hormonal changes
- Certain types of cancer
Many different things can affect gut health, the ability to metabolize food properly and the body’s way of naturally eliminating waste. Because so many different factors can contribute to stomach bloating — including some that seem totally unrelated, like sleep or stress — it’s possible to become bloated any time of the day or month.
Contrary to what most people think, bloating is not the same as carrying around extra fat mass or even “water weight.” Fluids can’t actually accumulate in your stomach, although you might be bloated and have water retention in other parts of your body (like your ankles, face and feet) while also having a bloated stomach if you have a condition that’s causing both.
How to Get Rid of a Bloated Stomach
1. Get probiotics into your diet
“Good bacteria” called probiotics act like friendly gut bugs in your digestive tract, killing off bad bacteria that can trigger digestive issues and reactions. You can take probiotic supplements, plus acquire them from natural probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and kombucha.
2. Eat more fiber
One of the most effective bloated stomach remedies is improving your diet, since the foods you eat play a huge part in regulating how much air and poop is trapped inside your digestive tract.
To keep things “flowing” smoothly, you want to make sure to eat a high-fiber diet, aiming for about 25–30 grams every day or even more.
3. Eat water-rich fruits and veggies
Veggies and fruits that provide water, key electrolytes and beneficial enzymes are your best friends when it comes to relieving stomach bloating naturally. Try eating more raw or cooked leafy greens, cucumber, celery, fennel, artichoke, melon, berries, steamed veggies and cultured/fermented vegetables.
4. Consume herbs, spices and teas
Natural digestion-soothing herbs like ginger, dandelion, aloe vera and fennel have been used for thousands of years to soothe an uncomfortable belly. Many herbs act like diuretics and help the body release extra fluid, while some, like ginger, can also help the digestive system release its contents and relax the muscles in the GI tract, which relieves constipation.
Try eating fresh-ground herbs of all kinds (parsley, oregano, rosemary, etc.), fresh peeled ginger root, along with aloe vera juice and herbal teas. Don’t forget that bone broth and green tea are also anti-inflammatory and great choices for promoting gut health.
5. Drink Enough Water
What relieves bloating fast? One way to relieve discomfort quickly is to drink water if you’re dehydrated. Fluids also help make sure fiber can do its job correctly.
There’s no magic number that is going to be the right amount for you, but start by having at least six to eight glasses a day. Staying hydrated is essential for beating bloating, but when it comes to beverage choices, choose wisely.
Your best bet is plain water, water infused with fresh fruit slices or herbs (like lemon, grapefruit, basil, etc.), or herbal tea.
6. Avoid these bloating foods and drinks
Now that you know what you should eat, let’s look at some of the foods that might make your bloating even worse. More often than not, some of these foods might be the culprit:
- Sugar and sweetened snacks: Sugar easily ferments in the gut, can contribute to candida overgrowth and promotes inflammation.
- Most dairy products: These include flavored yogurts with sugar and artificial ingredients, but also other kinds since modern-day manufacturing processes can remove important enzymes in dairy.
- Refined grains and grain products: Gluten is difficult to digest for many people, and so are corn, oats and other grains in some cases.
- In some cases difficult-to-digest veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion and even garlic: These contain sulfur and certain types of FODMAP carbohydrates.
- Beans and legumes, which can promote gas
- Carbonated drinks
- Chewing gum
- In some cases, certain types of fermentable fruit, including apples, peaches/other stone fruit and avocados can cause bloating.
- Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols: These include aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol.
7. Get Some Exercise
Being active helps your digestive system function optimally, since it can fight constipation, keep circulation moving and move lymphatic fluid throughout your body. It essentially helps you “detox.”
Try to get the most benefits from exercise by doing something active most days of the week for at least 30–60 minutes. And skip the sugary sports drinks afterward!
Wondering if your workout can ever make you more bloated? In some cases it can, especially if you overdo it. Overtraining causes the body to go into a stressful state. This causes the the adrenal glands to release more of the stress hormone cortisol.
Make sure your exercise routine supports your overall health and makes you feel better, not the opposite, causing disturbed fluid levels, poor digestion and added stress.
8. Reduce Stress
Ever notice how when you’re nervous, tired, sad or overwhelmed, your digestion is a total mess? Stress and anxiety impact digestion in a big way. That’s because your gut and your brain communicate very closely via the vagus nerve, aka your “gut-brain connection.”
Within the lining of your gastrointestinal tract lives a network of circuitry tissue that communicates via hormonal and chemical messages to your central nervous system, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). Your brain triggers the ENS to produce enzymes, saliva and secretions to help with digestion, along with controlling hormones responsible for your appetite.
Being anxious or sad can cause changes in this line of communication. Your brain then diverts attention away from proper digestion in an effort to conserve energy and use it elsewhere.
High amounts of stress increase cortisol levels. This can alter blood sugar levels and change the way that other hormones are secreted, sometimes causing you to become overly hungry, constipated and to store fluids.
On top of this, being stressed doesn’t make it very easy to eat a healing diet and instead usually leaves you reaching for comfort foods that commonly trigger bloating. Combine a sluggish metabolism and digestive system with too many heavy foods, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
The solution? Do what you can to practice mindful eating and to lower stress however possible, including exercise, meditation, prayer and spending more time doing things you love.
- Bloating is most often temporary and caused by air becoming stuck around your abdomen, making it distend outward.
- In many cases, the cause can include inadequate protein digestion, inability to break down sugar and carbohydrates fully, imbalances in gut bacteria, stress, and hormonal issues. Some medications and underlying conditions can also cause bloating, including IBS, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.
- How do I debloat my stomach? One of the most effective bloated stomach remedies is improving your diet. Make sure to eat a high-fiber diet, aiming for about 25–30 grams every day or even more, and to drink plenty of water/fluids.
- Exercising, discussing medication use with your doctor and managing stress can also help.