What Causes Bloating—and How to Naturally Prevent It
It's beyond frustrating: You've finished your meal to quickly find that you have an uncomfortable, tight, distended sensation in your belly. Bloating happens for various reasons—and to many of us. More than 10 percent of American adults say they experience some form of bloating in their stomach. The feeling is usually quite obvious. The causes, however, are more nebulous.
Experts says there are numerous reasons for bloating to happen. Some of these include:
- A build-up of gas in the digestive system. We swallow air, which makes up for about half the gas in our digestive system. The rest of the gas is produced by natural bacteria that helps to properly digest our food. When things are not efficiently moving through the gastrointestinal tract, a build-up of gas can occur, resulting in an extended, bloated belly.
- SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). Growing research is finding that this disorder is more prevalent that previously thought. The good bacteria that is meant to grow in other gut areas begins to grow in the small intestine, leading to discomfort and distended stomach.
- High sodium levels. Blame it on a junk food binge or too much ramen. Sodium attracts and retains water in the body, which can result in a distended stomach.
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). A common disorder that affects the large intestine, IBS is often a condition that expresses with bloating and excessive gas, along with cramping and other stomach discomforts.
Understanding the cause of your bloat can lead to significantly more efficacious treatments. Of course, it is always best to seek medical consult if bloating impacts your quality of life. But there are simple dietary and daily practices that can help to minimize a distended stomach and quell the symptoms.
- Eat mindfully and while sitting down. This is an ancient Ayurvedic bit of wisdom. When we slow down, chew with intention, and eat smaller meals we tend to better manage our hunger and honor our digestion.
- Stay hydrated—and drink by sipping warm or hot water. Chugging large amounts of cold water all at once can be a shock to the digestive system. It can also and cause swelling. Warm or hot water will help to move the flow of food along in your digestive system, better hydrate your organs, flush out sodium, and prevent bloating.
- Organic yogurt is rich in lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, two essential type of good bacteria that keeps our digestive tracts in good health. Opt for unsweetened yogurt made from organic dairy (or a non-dairy base) to help with efficient digestion.
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and essential minerals. Organic leafy greens and Ayurvedic triphala—an herbal tea made of three fruits native to India—provide essential minerals, including magnesium and potassium. (Triphala also helps to ease inflammation.)
- Consume whole foods that are unprocessed and free of additives and artificial sweeteners, as these tend to lead to gut inflammation.
- Lastly, look to essential oils. Our Body Balancing Navel Therapy Oil is delicately formulated to reignite the body’s agni, or digestive fire. Purifying botanicals like ginger, peppermint, and rosemary essential oil work in synergy to help balance the digestive system and aid the body as it detoxifies impurities, combats bloating, and renews energy reserves.