There are lots of things that cause bloating. It seems like every month a new diet trend surfaces that cuts out certain foods or food groups and promises improved health and weight loss. Gluten-free, dairy-free and clean eating are some of the more popular nutrition approaches and if you’ve tried any of these elimination diets and are still suffering from bloating, your diet might not be to blame.
The main culprit and most important part of your digestive system is the gut and many things can negatively affect it. Keeping the flora in your gut balanced and happy can make a world of difference in how you process and absorb essential nutrients from food. If you suffer frequently from abdominal discomfort, there are a few possible causes worth looking into. However, if you experience more serious symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, sudden extreme weight loss or blood in your stool, you should seek medical attention immediately. Here are some of the things that cause bloating.
1. You Might Need Water
One of the things that cause bloating is dehydration. The recommendation for water intake for the average person is 8 glasses per day, however, you might need more than that to be properly hydrated. If you find yourself drinking a lot of coffee, soda, and juice throughout the day, it might be time to switch to mostly water. To the athletes out there, if you exercise and sweat daily you most definitely need to drink more water. When you are dehydrated, the intestines lose their lubrication and that’s when you tend to get “backed up.” Gage your level of hydration based on the color of your urine. The lighter the better, and it’s important to maintain your water intake throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
2. Your Mind is Elsewhere
For all you multi-taskers, take notes! If you think scarfing down your lunch in between answering emails and texting is ultra-productive, you might want to rethink that strategy. When you aren’t fully paying attention to your meal, it’s easy to swallow more air between bites and not chewing your food completely can lead to potential bloating. The next time you sit down for lunch, put the phone aside and really focus on enjoying your food. You will also be able to better identify the moment you are satisfied and not overly stuffed.
3. Wacky Hormones and the Pill
Estrogen dominance has been shown to cause bloating issues in women. If you’re currently taking a birth control pill, you might want to research other options. Many pills cause high amounts of estrogen to be released in the body and this can certainly play a role in bloating. Besides the pill, things such as plastic water bottles, cleaning products, and even meat contain xenoestrogens, so whenever possible, choose more natural options.
4. Lack of Movement and a Sedentary Job
First off, sitting for hours on end is not good for your health in general. As far as bloating is concerned, movement throughout your day will keep things moving. If your company allows it, ask for a treadmill desk or simply set up calendar alerts on your computer to remind you to get up and get moving every hour.
5. Anxiety and Stress
We all know stress and anxiety are bad for us but they also can wreak havoc on our digestion. If you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, when the body is under any type of stress, blood flows away from the digestive tract to the muscles in the legs in order to help us run from danger. We might not be trying to out-run a tiger but any chronic stress will have a similar effect on the body. Meditation, yoga and making sure you carve out at least 20 minutes a day to unwind are key for minimizing bloat.
Some or all of these non-diet related reasons may be why you experience chronic bloating and discomfort. Take an honest look at your overall lifestyle and habits and make some changes to get your body back to functioning optimally.