Eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly won’t protect you from developing a bloated belly. Gas builds up in your stomach and intestinal tract when it doesn’t pass through belching or flatulence and causes your belly to bloat. Besides its unflattering look in your clothing, a bloated belly is uncomfortable and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as cramps or pain. Several factors contribute to the problem, but there are also effective remedies.
Foods such as those rich in fiber or greasy foods are among the many causes of abdominal bloating. Both fat and fiber slow the emptying of food from your stomach and lead to a buildup of gas. Limit your intake of greasy foods, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. If you’re not used to consuming fiber-rich foods — such as vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts and fruits like pears and peaches — increase them in your diet gradually and also increase your fluid intake.
Gulping down your food and beverages increases the amount of air you swallow and is another possible cause of a bloated belly even if you diet and exercise. Swallowing too much air is also more likely if you eat with your mouth open, talk while you eat or chew gum, according to the PubMed Health. The good news is that these causes allow for easy fixes: eat more slowly and with your mouth closed and avoid chewing gum and drinking through straws.
Some health problems may also increase bloating around your belly. They include irritable bowel syndrome, which also causes symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping. Celiac disease, which is an intolerance to gluten, and lactose intolerance prevent your intestines from properly digesting and absorbing nutrients and can lead to bloating. Ascites is another medical condition, listed by PubMed Health, that can cause abdominal bloating. Ascites is a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity, often as a result of high pressure in the blood vessels of the liver and a low level of the protein, albumin.
When you have this condition, which is also known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may repeatedly swallow to clear the acid that backs up into your esophagus. This also leads to you swallowing too much air and suffering from a bloated belly. To prevent heartburn and a bloated belly, avoid eating spicy foods, drinking caffeinated beverages, or eating large meals especially right before bedtime. If you already have heartburn, taking an antacid can help to relieve your symptoms.
Too Much Sodium
Overindulging in salty foods is another possible reason your belly is bloated. A high-sodium diet disrupts electrolyte levels in your body and leads to water retention, or edema, a build-up of fluid in the tissues in your body. Edema typically targets your legs, ankles and feet, but can involve the whole body. Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams of salt, which is slightly less than 3/4 teaspoon of table salt.