Six Steps To Banish Belly Bloatby Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
Many of the acid reflux patients I work with don't simply deal with the basic heartburn symptoms. One symptom that is frequently mentioned is painful belly bloat. Not only is this bloat painful, but when you can't fit into your jeans it's downright annoying. Most of the reasons for belly bloat can be changed with some simple tweaks. Check out some of the tips below.
Slow down while eating
We are a fast-paced, fast-food society. If you are eating on the run, you are likely eating too fast. Quickly wolfing down some food may be good for productivity but not for your gut. Slow down, chew your food thoroughly and don't gulp (which causes you to swallow air), and you'll see improvements in digestion.
Reduce carbonated beverages
Small amounts of carbonated beverages used sparingly can help you belch and relieve pressure from excess gas, but if you are downing more soda than water it could be having the opposite effect. Reduce the amount of carbonated beverages and, thus, gas in your stomach, and you will find it does wonders for your gut.
Limit gas producing foodsJust like drinks that contain gas, foods that produce extra gas can also contribute to belly bloat. Some of the main offenders are cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, beans, and some fiber-enriched foods can increase intestinal gas. If you find these foods trigger bloat for you, try reducing them until the bloat is gone and adding them back slowly, as tolerated. Cooked veggies tend to cause less discomfort than raw ones. Some people also do well by taking a supplement like Beano before they eat the offending foods.
Eliminate sugar alcohols from your dietSugar alcohols are used in a lot of sugar-free products but one of the main culprits I have seen with my clients is sugar-free gum. Check the labels. If your food item contains xylitol, manitol, sorbitol or another "-ol" ending ingredient, then sugar alcohol may be contributing to your problem.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
While it sounds counterintuitive, if you are not hydrating properly your body will actually hold on to more water. Unless you have issues with your kidneys or other issue that prevents normal fluid intake you should aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, a woman weighting 150 pounds would drink 75 ounces of water. Work up to the amount and drink it gradually throughout the day for the best results.
Balance gut bacteriaGut bacteria plays a huge role in the homeostasis of your intestinal tract. If you have recently been on antibiotics, had an infection or are under a lot of stress, it is possible your gut bacteria is out of whack. Probiotic-rich food sources like yogurt, keifer, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh and kimchi are a few good choices. You can also try a probiotic supplement to increase your healthy bacteria. Acidophilus, Biffidus and Lactobacilus all work well to replenish healthy bacteria.
Undiagnosed digestive conditions
If none of these tricks work to banish the bloat then there may be an underlying medical condition. Lactose intolerance, food allergies, ovarian cancer and even celiac disease can also cause some of these symptoms. Please see your physician if any of these symptoms are debilitating or last longer than a few days.
Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).
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