What Causes Bloating?

Around 70% of North Americans suffer from digestive issues, and bloating is at the top of the list. It’s annoying, it’s uncomfortable, and it can make getting dressed in the morning a real challenge. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve digestive function and make bloating a thing of the past.

As a holistic nutritionist who sees hundreds of people per year, I am always amazed at how many people suffer from bloating.
- Joy McCarthy, Holistic Nutritionist

Healthy Habits for Improved Digestion

Get regular

Dietary fiber plays a big part in keeping you regular by bulking stool and moving it along. Naturally fiber rich foods are often nutritionally dense as well – so opt for a variety of fresh produce and plenty of whole grains every day. Some particularly high fiber foods include prunes, pears, radish, cereal brans, beans and legumes and figs.

Drink more water

You have heard it before and here it is again: aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Your bowel requires adequate hydration to function at its best. What counts? Water, herbal teas. What doesn’t? Black tea, coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol.

Gut feelings

Some foods cause bloating more than others. Listen to your body to find out which foods make you feel good and which foods make you feel puffy. Some of the most bloat-inducing foods include fatty foods, sugar, bread and gluten-containing grains, unfermented legumes, grains and dairy, and some cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli. Also, avoid chewing gum and carbonated beverages whenever possible, as they can add unwanted air to the digestive tract.

Stress less

Ever noticed that when you’re stressed, you feel it in your tummy (e.g. butterflies in your stomach)? Your gut contains more neurons than your spinal cord, and is often called your “second brain” – what is going on in your mind can influence your gut and digestive processes! Reducing stress is easier said than done, so focus on what you CAN control in the here and now.

Get moving

Regular activity can regulate your bowel function, helping to improve regularity. Some forms of exercise, like Pilates, can help to pull the abdominal wall into a flatter position, helping the belly to appear flatter and look less bloated.

References:

Avunduk, Canan (2008). Manual of gastroenterology : diagnosis and therapy (4th ed. ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 240. ISBN 9780781769747.

Epidemiology of Constipation in North America: a systematic review Higgins PD, Johanson, JF.AMerican journal of Gastroenology, 2004. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/punmed/15089911/