Beat The Bloat With These Abdominal Bloating Remedies

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It’s a tough call to say exactly what the worst part of bloating is—the discomfort, the unsightly bulge, or the unseemly rumblings, squeaks, and expulsions that come along with it. Even though it is often temporary, the condition and its symptoms can cause issues at, or even cause you to miss, work or social and recreational events. Luckily, it’s easy enough to circumvent bloating by stopping the causes at their source: your guts.

Common Culprits

Abdominal bloating occurs when an excess of gas or fluid builds up and cannot pass through the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the intestines. This can be caused by the normal production of gas from digestion, by water being retained by the body and by air accidentally gulped or swallowed into the digestive system. The best way to beat bloating is to avoid foods and behaviors that cause these buildups in the first place. During digestion, the breakdown of the foods we eat leads to the production of various gases. An excess of these can be caused by certain gas-inducing foods like beans and cabbage. Dairy products can also lead to bloating amongst people who are lactose intolerant. It’s worthwhile to keep a food journal, which can help you identify which foods are the worst culprits in your own individual case. Although it may sound counterintuitive, the more well-hydrated you are, the less likely you are to become bloated due to fluid retention; if you give your body a steady, ample supply of water, it has no reason to hang desperately onto every drop. Excess sodium, which is very commonly present in manufactured foods, can similarly cause the body to retain fluids. The best way to avoid an imbalance is to keep sodium intake at healthy levels and to get it from fresh, less-processed sources. Air can also be introduced into the digestive system and become trapped there. The most common cause is eating and drinking too quickly, which draws air into your stomach along with your food. Chewing gum can also introduce air into the digestive tract, as can smoking. One common cause of bloating that deserves particular mention is carbonated beverages. These produce gas in the stomach, causing it to swell and ache. Diet and decaffeinated drinks often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate and sucralose. The digestive tract has trouble breaking down these chemical compounds, which can increase your appetite and lead to overeating.

Common Cures

In addition to avoiding the common, everyday causes of bloating listed above, you can also take a more proactive posture by augmenting your diet. These simple beverages and readily available supplements can help to ease bloating when it occurs and even stop it before it starts. As noted above, staying hydrated will prevent the body from retaining fluids in the intestinal tract. If you’re seeking a little more flavor than water offers, you can try different teas known to help maintain digestive health. Peppermint tea, for example, contains menthol, which soothes the gastrointestinal muscles, and dandelion tea stimulates bile for more efficient digestion. Adding a bit of ginger can likewise help to ease bowel irritation and inhibit the buildup of excess gas. Dietary supplements may also help to ease bloating. Potassium maintains the equilibrium and flow of fluids, and magnesium can minimize the retention of these fluids along with excess gas. Fiber moves quickly and easily through the intestines, which can likewise help to prevent troublesome buildups. Probiotics, as found in kefir and Greek yogurt, help to maintain digestive health and prevent internal problems.

Other Medical Causes

If changes to your diet and daily routine don’t clear up your bloating problem, then the condition may be a symptom of some other condition. It may be the result of a natural food intolerance—to gluten or lactose, for example—or of hormonal flux. On the other hand, it could also signal a more serious disease or disorder. These can include irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Bloating also occurs as side effect of giardia, a waterborne parasite. It can also be concurrent with psychologically based ailments like eating disorders, depression, stress and anxiety. Bloating can also accompany critical conditions like cancer, liver disease and renal and congestive heart failure, all of which cause pathological fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Pancreatic insufficiency, in which digestion is impaired to an inability to adequately produce necessary enzymes, can also lead to abdominal bloating. A perforation in the gastrointestinal tract can cause the digestive system to leak into the abdominal cavity, to much the same effect. These, of course, are the most extreme cases. Nonetheless, if dietary and behavioral changes fail to address the problem of abdominal bloating, you should consult a doctor for a professional diagnosis of the possible causes and solutions.