Feeling uncomfortable, bloated, or gassy can ruin anyone’s day, and according to research over 30% of the population deals with digestive discomfort. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Read on for 8 reasons why you might be bloated—and what to do about it.
1. WHERE—AND WHEN—YOU EAT.
Our extremely busy lifestyles mean we often eat what we can, when we can. From grabbing a bagel to go for breakfast, to eating lunch hunched over a desk or in a car, eating on the fly is a recipe for bloating. For optimal digestion, our bodies need to be primed to rest and digest. If we’re mindlessly munching on social media or during a rush to get out the door, our body and brain aren’t prepared. The same goes for eating too late at night. Our digestive system is more active during the daylight hours. Eating and going to bed can cause bloating, gas, and heartburn or acid reflux. Take the time to sit down for proper meals, and be mindful and present as you eat. Slow down the process, enjoy your food, and stave off bloating.
2. PASS THE SALT.
Sodium-heavy foods (read: processed) make us retain water, which leads to bloating. Flavoring dishes with herbs and spices and reading labels are a great way to avoid salt-induced bloating. Reach for whole foods over processed options, and cook at home as much as possible. Drinking lots of water can help flush the sodium, so aim for 8-12 glasses to help banish the bloat.
3. UNHAPPY MICROBIOME.
When the trillions of bacteria that make up our microbiome become unbalanced, it can cause bloating, nausea, pain, and even vomiting. To support a healthy gut, focus on adding fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha into your diet, as well as choosing a high-quality probiotic supplement to help rebalance the good and bad bacteria. [Editor's note: We recommend supplements from our partner Bio-K+.]
4. GLUTEN INTOLERANCE OR SENSITIVITY.
An intolerance or even insensitivity to gluten could be behind the bloat. Even if you follow a gluten-free diet, it can hide in things like soup, scrambled eggs, and ground meat. The best way to find out if Celiac disease is causing bloating (and other health issues) is a simple blood test that you can do at home or your doctor’s office. You can also try an elimination diet to see if you have a food sensitivity.
5. FRUITS AND VEGGIES.
Believe it or not, some healthy fruits and vegetables can cause serious bloating. Common culprits include carb-heavy foods like apples, mango, asparagus, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Discuss experimenting with a low FODMAP diet with a natural health professional to decide if it might be right for you.
6. HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL.
The hormones in birth control, especially estrogen, can cause bloating and weight gain in the abdominal area. Birth control can also lead to insulin resistance, which also causes weight gain. Talk to your natural health care provider about non-hormonal alternatives.
7. TOO MUCH OR NOT ENOUGH CAFFEINE.
Caffeine can have a diuretic effect, helping rid the body of excess salt and water. But too much caffeine—more than one or two cups of tea or coffee daily—can actually cause bloating. Switch to herbal tea, water, or a healthier alternative after that.
8. NOT ENOUGH ACTIVITY.
Our bodies need movement to keep things moving in the digestive tract. Think about how a long walk after a big meal makes you feel better. Yoga poses that focus on twisting can be especially helpful in promoting digestion, but a walk, bike ride, or any type of regular exercise will work wonders.