Bloating occurs when there is an abnormal swelling or increase in gas in the gastrointestinal tract. It is usually associated with what and how food is eaten. As a result of malfunctioning digestion, what may appear as a flat stomach in the morning turns into a distended drum by the evening.
Causes of bloating
Bloating is a symptom of many health problems, some serious and some not. It is most commonly a symptom caused by an underlying digestive issue, including irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial growth, inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances, and even lack of stomach acid.
Bloating isn’t specific to just the gastrointestinal tract, since it is a symptom of numerous other non-digestive health conditions – which is what makes it complicated. For example, bloating can occur with endometriosis, a gynecological condition that is associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
But for those who don’t experience bloating on a regular basis, achieving a flat stomach may still be difficult. A combination of poor posture, poor diet, and lack of weekly exercise can all accumulate centrally as an abdominal pooch.
What you can do
Whether abdominal bloating or stubborn weight gain is your vice, some diet and lifestyle interventions can go a long way in creating a flatter stomach:
- Nutrition is #1. You may have heard the saying, “You cannot out-exercise a bad diet.” Sticking to a balanced nutritious diet that consists of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids helps keep the waistline smaller and the digestive tract happier.
- Look for sugar. Not just the sugar listed under the carbohydrate section on food labels – I’m talking about the easily fermentable sugars like oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These sugars are known collectively as “FODMAPs” and lead to gas and bloating in many individuals with compromised digestion. Cutting FODMAPs from the diet has consistently shown symptomatic benefits in the majority of patients with irritable bowel syndrome in several published clinical studies.
- Chew thoroughly. Making a small change like chewing your food thoroughly gives your stomach a break because smaller, more broken down food particles allow for an easier digestive process upon arrival at the stomach.
- Let botanicals soothe your tummy. Supporting the liver will support digestion. Botanical herbs such as artichoke, milk thistle, boldo leaf, and dandelion found in Boldocynara have traditionally been used to promote the flow of bile, which assists with digestion.
- The American Heart Association recommends maintaining a regular exercise program that involves at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Exercise not only helps keep excess pounds off, it also promotes better digestion.
- See your primary healthcare provider. If you experience chronic bloating, it is imperative to work with your doctor to determine its underlying cause. While bloating may seem harmless, it is nevertheless a symptom of colon cancer, and should be evaluated in a medical context by a professional.