You eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains, but you still deal with belly bloat. This happens even though you exercise regularly. Several factors contribute to the problem, but don't worry, there are some bloated-stomach remedies.
Eating Healthy and Feeling Bloated
When you are eating healthy and feeling bloated, you may wonder why. When you eat, your food and drink changes into smaller molecules of nutrition that nourish the body, according to the International Foundation for Intestinal Disorders (IFID). Several factors affect emptying of the stomach,says the IFID.
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Gas in the digestive tract can come from the normal breakdown of some undigested foods, says the Cleveland Clinic. It can also come from taking in air while you eat. Humans do not have the enzymes to digest fibers, but bacteria in the intestines do the job of digesting that fiber. Also, high fat meals, including greasy or fried foods, can take a long time to digest, says the Mayo Clinic.
The longer the food sits in your intestines, the more time it has to ferment and cause gas. This gas buildup in your stomach and intestinal tract typically passes out of your body through belching or flatulence. It's normal to belch occasionally during or after meals. It's also normal to pass gas as flatulence, up to 20 times a day or more.
Bloating and flatulence is a common side effect of starting to eat healthier, especially after a period of not eating a lot of fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. If you're not used to consuming these foods — such as vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts and fruits like pears and peaches — you may want to increase them in your diet gradually and also increase your fluid intake.
Read more: 10 Foods That Give You the Worst Gas
Why Bloated Belly?
One reason for a bloated belly is simply eating a moderate to large amount of food in a short period of time. The stomach and intestines stretch and distend to hold the food, digest it, and eventually convert the waste into stool.
Often this expansion of the gastrointestinal tract is more noticeable on people who have low body fat. You may also have a sensitive nervous system that's causing your body to abnormally respond to what is a normal amount of gas, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Swallowing too much air may also lead to a bloated belly. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can experience a bloated belly because they repeatedly swallow to clear the acid that backs up into the esophagus.
There are some allergies and food intolerances that could cause a bloated belly:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Celiac disease, an allergy to gluten
- Lactose intolerance, which prevents your intestines from properly digesting and absorbing nutrients
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn's disease
- Gastroperesis (this can cause delayed stomach emptying)
- Cancer of the colon, ovaries, stomach and pancreas
If you suspect any of these, you should visit a doctor.
Read more: The 10 Worst Foods for Bloating
If you are seeking treatment or medicine for bloating, the best advice is to first get a food allergy or food sensitivity test. Talk to your doctor to get these tests arranged, to rule out any of the above conditions.
Remember that bloating usually is minor, and all you may need is simple dietary changes, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding carbonated drinks may also help. Eating more slowly and chewing your food may also help, when you are otherwise eating healthy but have a bloated stomach.
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.
If your bloated belly persists for weeks or more, it may be time to visit a doctor and rule out any of the more serious causes. If you have diarrhea, painful and frequent heartburn, vomiting, weight loss or strong abdominal pain, it's time to check in with your health care practitioner.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "What's Causing That Belly Bloat?"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Bloating: Causes and Prevention Tips"
- Mayo Clinic: "Belching, Intestinal Gas and Bloating: Tips for Reducing Them"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Gas: Management and Treatment"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "The Digestive System"
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Beat: "Bloated vs. Fat: Which One Am I"