Bloating: causes, natural remedies, (un) recommended foods
Bloating is a feeling of abdominal discomfort, which has multiple causes, related to digestion, diet, hormonal changes, stress or even serious illness. Mild cases of bloating can be eliminated by natural treatments, pay attention to the daily diet, exercise and / or as little stress as possible.
Heartburn is a gastrointestinal disorder that can affect you regardless of age and is manifested by a feeling of pain or discomfort in the stomach (which swells), because the digestive system is full of gases, solids or liquids. This sensation does not always pass with the elimination of gas (by belching or flatulence) or emptying of the colon.
Bloating affects women more often than men. Why? Because they have a colon 10 cm longer, on average, than men (possible to absorb more fluids during pregnancy), they have monthly hormonal fluctuations and weaker abdominal walls.
In order to get rid of bloating quickly and avoid it in the future, it is important to understand certain things: what symptoms it has, the reasons why it occurs, how you can treat it at home, but also what are the alarm signals that should send you to the doctor. Find out more in this article!
The most common symptoms of bloating are: pain, discomfort and noise in the stomach, elimination of gas (through flatulence or belching), diarrhea or constipation, nausea.
Causes of bloating
Inflation can be triggered by various things. The most common causes of bloating are:
- excess gas (abdominal flatulence): occurs when you swallow too much air (drinking during the meal, with straw, chewing gum), when you eat beans, too much soluble fiber and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli), too much, too fast, too sweet, too salty or too greasy when you have indigestion, a stomach infection or other illnesses;
- constipation: stool blocked in the colon (due to dehydration, lack of dietary fiber, food allergy or intolerance, pregnancy, nutrient deficiencies, certain medications or conditions) increases the fermentation time of local bacteria, producing gases;
- indigestion (dyspepsia): is a stomach ache caused by overeating or alcohol, medicines that irritate the stomach, stomach infections or more serious diseases (ulcer, cancer, liver failure);
- stomach infections: are caused by viruses (such as norovirus or rotavirus) or bacteria (such as Escherichia coli or Helicobacter pylori) and may be accompanied by gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.
What you eat every day affects your risk of bloating. What does the diet that can predispose you to this problem look like? It is poor in protein and insoluble fiber, which are found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, peas, squash, peaches, fruit and vegetable peels. It is too rich in soluble fiber (barley, oats, beans, asparagus, soy, onions, garlic, carrots, bananas, oranges, quinces, plums, berries, potatoes and pasta), salt, fats, carbonated drinks and complex carbohydrates (added sugar, fructose-rich fruits - apples, pears, melons, cherries, mangoes). In addition, if you have an intolerance or allergy to certain substances and foods (lactose, gluten), you can bloat. The same can happen if you drink too much water during a meal and swallow air.
Many women get bloated during menstruation due to hormonal changes and water retention in the body. Pregnancy also comes with hormonal changes and therefore bloating.
Intense stress unbalances the intestinal microflora, digestion is no longer a priority for the body and bloating sets in. In addition, there are diseases that can cause it: cancer (ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreatic, stomach), liver disease, diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease (annexitis), gastroparesis, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, colitis infectious, ascites, bacterial overpopulation of the small intestine (SIBO).
How can you reduce or eliminate bloating by natural methods?
The bloating sensation that occurs after a rich meal will usually resolve on its own. But if you want to speed up the process and avoid such problems in the future, the best solution is to determine the cause. Depending on this, you will know what foods not to overeat (for example, extremely salty products, sweets, beans), if sports help you or what natural treatments work for you. If you want to try a natural treatment, discover below the most effective herbs, essential oils and teas!
Mint (Mentha piperita) contains natural substances that can reduce muscle spasms, working effectively in the intestine, against bloating. And it's not the only plant traditionally used to fight bloating. For the relaxation of the intestinal muscles and an efficient circulation of the stomach contents, you can drink not only mint tea, but also chamomile tea (Chamomillae romanae), lemon balm tea (Melissa officinalis), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), ginger (Zingiber officinale), yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) and angelica / great hemlock (Angelica archangelica). Ask your doctor for advice on how to use activated medicinal charcoal or artichoke extract (Cynara scolymus)!
Anti-bloating essential oils
Essential oils can help you also: administered locally or consumed internally, they can provide a helping hand to people suffering from indigestion, gas and bloating, thanks to the phenolic compounds (flavonoids) and the amino acids they contain. Try essential oils of mint, ginger, fennel, turmeric, rhubarb, chamomile, cumin, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), juniper (Juniperus communis), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cypress (Cupressus).
Here are some examples of internal use of essential oils:
- pour 1 drop of peppermint essential oil in a glass of water and drink the mixture before each meal;
- pour 1-2 drops of cardamom essential oil in a glass of water and drink the mixture (alternatively, you can pour a few drops into a special diffuser and inhale the vapors);
- pour 1-2 drops of fennel essential oil in a cup of tea and drink the mixture.
And some examples of external use of essential oils, locally applied on the skin:
- pour 2-4 drops of chamomile essential oil (diluted in a teaspoon of carrier oil) and massage your stomach clockwise;
- pour 2-3 drops of ginger essential oil in the bath water;
- in a bottle, pour 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil (which is the carrier base), 40 drops of juniper oil, 30 drops of grapefruit oil, 20 drops of black pepper oil (or 10 drops of ginger oil / cloves) and 20 drops of yellow ginger oil / gentian; apply this mixture on the entire skin before bed; to increase the effect of this diuretic (which takes effect the next morning), you can ask your partner to give you a vigorous massage; first of all, test your skin with a drop of each of the oils mentioned above to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction to any of them.
Other treatments for bloating
Also take into account the tips below, which are in addition to the natural treatments mentioned above.
Pay attention to nutrition
To help your digestion, eat small portions at regular intervals. Make sure you have no food allergies or intolerances to lactose, fructose, gluten, eggs or wheat. Gradually consume more fiber, to avoid constipation, until you reach the recommended dose of 25-38 g / day (for women and men, respectively).
Stop eating foods that promote constipation and water retention, to analyze how you feel: beans, lentils, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, carrots, corn, wheat, yeast, onions, apricots, citrus fruits, apples, pears , prunes, products with natural / artificial sweeteners (fructose, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol), full of caffeine, fat and salt, dairy, carbonated juices, refined carbohydrates.
To cambat bloating from the inside, incorporate the right fruits, vegetables, dairy products and spices into your diet. Cook using cumin (Cuminum cyminum), star anise (Illicium verum), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), turmeric (Curcuma longa) and apple cider vinegar. And fill your pantry and fridge more often with spinach, bananas, cucumbers, asparagus, papaya, avocado, sweet potatoes and yogurt with probiotics.
Get rid of gas
The gases in the digestive system are half swallowed, half produced by intestinal bacteria that contribute to the digestion of food consumed. If they do not advance efficiently through the gastrointestinal tract, gas accumulates in the intestines and flatulence occurs. Fight it by eating slowly and without talking during the meal - if you swallow the food quickly, you can introduce air into the digestive tract; the same thing happens if you always drink with a straw, chew gum often, drink carbonated juices or eat strong candies. And stress can determine you to swallow more air, so seek to get rid of anxiety through breathing exercises, muscle relaxation or yoga.
Do exercise every day
Sport helps to regulate the frequency of stools, remove excess gas and sodium from the body (through sweating, you get rid of water retention) and can relieve the symptoms of the menstrual cycle (including unpleasant bloating). Make sure you drink enough water while exercising to avoid dehydration, which would only make constipation worse. Go for a walk in the park, ride a bike, walk your puppy or walk a few bus stops to your home - in total, you should get 2.5 hours of exercise each week.
Get rid of stress
To combat stress, you can use yoga (there are certain special positions, which encourage the release of excess gas) or a relaxing bath every night (adding to the bath and 1-2 of the above essential oils, which combat bloating).
Try abdominal massage
Abdominal massage can also be a solution. The movements to be made are the following: place your palms above the bone of the right hip; massage the area with circular movements, pressing lightly when you reach the right side of the ribs; massage right above the stomach, to the left of the ribs; move your hands slightly down to your left hip bone. If the massage causes you pain, stop it immediately.
Try digestive and probiotic enzyme supplements
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines and can help you. A probiotic supplement can regulate your gas-producing bacteria, reducing the symptoms associated with bloating. The same can happen with the consumption of food supplements based on enzymes (which break down indigestible carbohydrates) or potassium (which helps balance the level of sodium in the body, reduces water retention and increases urine production). Talk to your doctor about this!
When do I have to go to a doctor?
The answer to the above question is this: if the bloating is chronic, it does not go away after a few days and / or gets worse, if you have suspicions about a possible more serious condition that causes it or - simply - if you have tried all the remedies above, without success. Only your doctor can do the necessary tests to understand what causes bloating and / or diagnose a more serious illness.
The symptoms that should determine you to got o the doctor immediately:
- loss of appetite
- diarrhea or acute constipation (longer than 3 days)
- intense abdominal pain
- weight loss (especially if we are talking about a weight loss of more than 10% of body weight)
- bloody stool
- vaginal bleeding outside the menstrual cycle.
Did you know that...?
- acupuncture and reflexology are also alternative treatments for bloating;
- if you always drink very cold water, taken directly from the refrigerator, you can increase your risk of bloating? This is because your stomach will be burdened by the effort to bring water to your body temperature.