Do You Feel Bloated Every Now And Then? Here’s Why
Do you often suffer from 'heaviness in the abdomen', 'full belly at all times', 'too much gas in the stomach', or 'excessive pressure on the lower abdomen'? You could be one of the many people who suffer from bloating.
In fact, 10-25% of perfectly healthy people of all ages complain of this problem.1 Therefore, we need to understand the causes behind it.
To understand and treat this is also a challenge as it is a symptom and not a disease in itself. However, if it occurs frequently, there are some steps that you can take to prevent it. Here are some causes of bloating:
We have all found ourselves in a position when we ended up eating too much and then started feeling uneasy. This feeling of discomfort is due to bloating caused by overeating. The intestinal gas in humans occurs due to three factors: swallowing air, chemical reactions in the upper gut and diffusion from the bloodstream. This gas is expelled by belching, consumed by the intestinal bacteria, or by passing gas. The body maintains a delicate balance of this input/output and any disturbance of this balance leads to bloating. Overeating can disturb this especially if you eat bloat-inducing foods like certain fruits and vegetables (for e.g. brussels sprouts, beans and prunes.3)
Did you know that it takes twenty minutes for your body to register that you are full?1 If you are used to always eating on the go or have always prided yourself on being a fast eater, think again, because this is what is making you feel bloated. When we eat, it takes time for signals of satiety to reach the human brain and in turn, send signals to stop eating. Research has shown that when people eat faster, they underestimate the quantity eaten. Thus, we end up eating a larger portion, which in turn can lead to a bloating sensation.5
Certain Food Groups6
One of the main causes of stomach gas is faulty eating habits. If you eat foods that contain oligosaccharides (a protein) like lentils and beans in disproportionate quantities, it can lead to bloating. Sweeteners like sorbitol and fructose are also difficult to digest for some people. So are dairy products and whole grains Too much fatty food can also give you the sensation of being 'too full' as fat takes longer to be digested than carbohydrates or proteins.4 If you face very frequent bloating, it is advisable to maintain a food diary and see if you can identify a pattern of foods that seem to be responsible.
Abnormal Gas Displacement
In some patients, the amount of gas produced is normal but the gas shifts from its original position, thus causing you to feel uneasy.7 This shifting increases pressure on the diaphragm and the muscles near the stomach, thus becoming extremely uncomfortable for the patient.
IBS And Constipation
Patients suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or constipation also tend to experience more bloating and more frequently than healthy individuals. Patients with IBS also tend to feel the symptoms of bloating more acutely.8
If you lead a stressful life and don’t get your share of 8 hours of sleep in a day, you need to reevaluate your lifestyle, as this could be causing bloating. However, the link between psychological factors and bloating is still under research.9
So, the next time you feel bloated, look out for these symptoms and try to limit the ones under your control as much as possible. If there is a physiological cause behind it, then it is best to see a gastroenterologist to understand what bloating means and how to best deal with it.
Note: In this article, we examine specifically the causes of bloating as a result of food, gas accumulation and related reasons; however, in women, bloating is also associated with hormonal reasons and can occur as part of pre-menstrual syndrome.10
1 Functional Abdominal Bloating with Distention
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2 Diet in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome: A cross-sectional study in the general populationRead More »
3 Bloating and functional gastro-intestinal disorders: Where are we and where are we going?Read More »
4 Effects of eating rate on satiety: A role for episodic memory?
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5 Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and TreatmentRead More »
6 Core Symptoms That Discriminate Premenstrual SyndromeRead More »
Author: Ruchi Rajan
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