There's such a thing as a food belly post-meal (I know that well); however, there's quite a difference when it comes to chronic bloat and distention. If you find yourself having signs of bloating and abdominal distention on a regular basis, it might be worth checking with a doctor or making small tweaks to your daily lifestyle in order to get your body can aligned and balanced.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on keeping their bodies in great condition to provide enough energy, stamina, and productivity in the day. When you're experiencing stomach issues, such as bloating, it can make it that much harder. Personally, when I feel bloated, I often feel lethargic and heavy. This generally stops me from being my most productive self. If bloating lasts a few days, without going away with a change in diet, exercise, or lifestyle, it might be worth getting checked out to see if there's a greater health problem at play. Here are 11 reasons for abdominal distention and bloating, and why it might be best to do some investigation upon symptoms. You only have one body, so you have to make the most of it and treat it well.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Whether you're eating them in "low-fat" packaged goods or drinking them in a daily cup of coffee or a diet soda, consuming artificial sweeteners can lead to abdominal distention and bloating, says Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle. Switch to water or tea, and have your coffee black (or with a dash of milk), without sugar or artificial sugars, if possible.
2. Eating Gluten
While this is especially important if you have already been diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, sometimes gluten can lead to belly bloat in people who can't digest its properties well. "In a healthy individual gluten is not normally the cause of belly bloat," says Shaw, but if you're chronically bloated and not sure why, trying an elimination diet with gluten or getting tested could bring about some answers.
3. Eating Excess Fiber
While fiber is super good for you, Shaw recommends, eating too many fortified fiber products can be overwhelming on the digestive system and lead to abdominal distention and bloating. These fiber products are especially damaging if they contain "chicory root extract," says Shaw, and this extract can often be found in granola, fiber, and protein bars.
4. Reaching For Snack Bars
Shaw says that many fast, on-the-go snack bars are packed with harmful additives, sugars, artificial extracts, and fortified products, so eating whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are a wise choice. "Instead of opting for the latest fiber bar craze, I suggest [my clients] focus in on more veggie dense meals and snacks. Replacing a bar with a container of hummus and trail mix is a great alternative with a powerful boost of fiber too," says Shaw.
5. Being Stressed
If you're super stressed out, it could definitely show on your abdominal region. When you're stressed, cortisol levels are higher, and the surge in cortisol will lead to bloating, predominately around your belly. "Take 5 minutes every day to create order to your spaces (home, office, car, etc.) or introduce a natural element like a single flower or succulent to help you feel calmer," as a way to keep yourself calm on a regular basis, advises experts at matcha LOVE over email with Bustle.
6. Sensitivity To Dairy
Whether you're lactose intolerant, have an autoimmune disease, such as Crohn's Disease, where dairy is a trigger, or just find that eating dairy doesn't sit well with your stomach, it's common to notice bloating and abdominal discomfort after eating dairy in people who can't tolerate it well. If you think this could be you, consider getting tested or eliminating it for a few weeks to see if there's a change.
7. Not Sleeping
Not sleeping enough can mess with the body's hormones, such as grehlin and leptin, and cause changes in appetite. Such tendencies to overeat can lead to bloating. Likewise, not sleeping can also elevate cortisol. To get better sleep, the matcha LOVE team suggests "downloading a Sleep Cycle alarm clock, which will wake you up in the lightest sleep phase so you wake up feeling completely rested, not exercising within 4 hours of sleeping, or keeping a sleep diary to track your daily activity vs. your night patterns so you know where you need to make schedule changes."
8. Eating Too Fast
If you've been known to scarf down your food within a few moments of receiving it, then it might be to blame for your chronic abdominal distention and belly bloat. Without being mindful of what you're eating, you're likely to overwhelm the body with more food than it can handle. Slow down to avoid overeating and belly bloat.
9. Eating Too Many Raw Foods
While raw foods have tons of nutritional benefits, as the properties aren't lost through the cooking process, eating too many raw foods (especially cruciferous vegetables), can be hard for the body to digest and lead to bloating in the stomach. Be sure to incorporate both cooked and raw into a healthy, balanced diet, or be careful if you eat solely raw.
10. Candida Overgrowth
If you have a candida overgrowth in your stomach, called "leaky gut syndrome," as well, it could make you chronically bloated and hormonally off balance. The most common cause is eating a diet too high in sugar, alcohol, and greasy fats, as that's what yeast love to feed on. Trying an elimination diet of candida triggers could help.
11. Not Drinking Enough Water
It might be hard to remember to drink enough water in the day, but remembering to take a break and re-fill your glass could help flush toxins from the body and get rid of excess bloating and distention. When you're chronically dehydrated from lack of water, it will show on the body. Keep a water bottle with you and set an alarm to re-fill throughout the day.
If you notice you're feeling more bloated and weighed down than usual, consider these aspects that could be affecting your body and hormonal balance. If you think it might be more serious, check in with a doctor.
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