Abdominal bloating has become so common now-a-days that it is considered to be a major lifestyle disease along the lines of obesity. The most common reasons are lack of exercise coupled with poor diet or irregular eating habits.
In simple terms, abdominal bloating refers to any unusual swelling in your abdomen area. Most of the time, this swelling is due to the presence of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. However, sometimes a bloated abdomen can be indicative of a major health problem.
Having an extended belly due to bloating is different from having a fat belly. A fat belly is the result of accumulation of fat around your waist, while bloating involves the abnormal swelling-up of your stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.
Given below are some common causes of bloating.
Stuffing yourself with too much food is never a good idea. Overeating is one of the most common causes of abdominal bloating. Eating too much, too soon without chewing properly means that you end up eating more than your stomach’s capacity. This often leads to obesity in the long run as your stomach size increases due to the constant stretching.
As a result your appetite increases even more and you soon start gaining weight.
Another major disadvantage of overeating is that it causes bloating. As your stomach groans under the pressure of too much food, indigestion and gas cause a swollen belly.
2. Rich and Fatty Diet
Your health is affected by not just the quantity but also the kind of food that you consume. If your regular diet has a high-content of rich and fatty foods like red meat, dairy products and sweets, then you are more likely to suffer from a series of health problems, including bloating. Fat takes a very long time to be properly broken down and digested. The delayed digestion leaves you feeling full and lethargic.
3. Indigestion and Flatulence
As mentioned above, bloating is often caused by indigestion and gas. Certain foods while being good for your health can also be very hard to digest.
For example, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are often difficult to digest and can cause flatulence. Flatulence refers to the state of having excessive gas in your gastrointestinal system; this gas may or may not have an odor and is usually released via belching or farting.
4. Lazy habits or Sedentary Lifestyle
The lack of any physical activity can also cause bloating. Regular exercise or activity strengthens our muscles and increases the blood flow to our organs. Exercising your abdominal muscles can improve digestion and also aid in ensuring regular bowel movements. Exercise can further reduce bloating, as it allows gas to be released from your body in a healthy manner.
Regular bowel movements indicate a healthy digestive system. Constipation on the other hand, denotes gastric trouble. It causes stool retention within the intestines, leading to lack of appetite, increased flatulence, abdominal discomfort, and bloating.
Constipation can be caused by an infection, lack of fiber in your diet, inadequate consumption of water, stress and lack of exercise. If you are regularly constipated, then you should consult your doctor as it can be indicative of a major gastric problem.
One of the more serious causes of bloating is cancer. A bloated abdomen may be a sign of stomach, uterine or colon cancer. Sometimes, a bloated abdomen can also be caused by cysts in your ovaries. If you continue to have a bloated abdomen despite making changes in your diet and lifestyle, then you should consult a doctor.
Remember feeling bloated after having a couple of beers with your friends? Well, alcohol is known to have a diuretic effect on the human body. This means than it promotes the excretion of water from your body. Ironically, as this process leaves your body dehydrated, it also leads to increased water retention. This is what makes you feel bloated after the consumption of liquor.
8. Fizzy drinks and Diet Sodas
The carbonated water that makes fizzy drinks bubbly and delicious, also causes swelling in your stomach. The gas bubbles get trapped in your stomach and cause abdominal bloating. Diet Sodas are no better as they contain artificial sweeteners that cause indigestion.
Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are great sources of protein. However, they contain carbohydrates that are not easily digestible. The best solution to this problem is to limit the quantity that you consume. A small amount can be easily absorbed by your body. So, instead of making this food group your primary meal, simply include it in the form of side-dishes.
10. Lactose and Gluten Intolerance
If you feel bloated after the consumption of milk or milk-products like cheese and yogurt, then chances are that you may be lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar which is found naturally in dairy products. When lactose is not properly processed by your body, it can cause bloating and flatulence.
Similarly, if you feel bloated and experience abdominal cramps after consuming wheat products, this can indicate that you are allergic to gluten. Gluten is a protein compound found in grains like wheat, rye, barley etc. Ask your doctor to test you for celiac disease if you experience bloating and abdominal stress after eating bread or any other grain-based product.
Working on your fitness and improving your eating habits can go a long way in reducing abdominal bloating. However, bloating can also be a sign of serious health issues and needs proper medical attention in case it persists.