After a good night’s rest, you may feel light as air and ready to take on the day. However, by day’s end, some of you may notice your pants feeling a bit snug. This end of day bloating can be uncomfortable and frustrating, especially if you are not sure what is causing it. Read below for some possible reasons for your evening bloat and how you can prevent it.
All about bloat
Bloating, by definition, is when the abdomen becomes full of fluid and/or gas. This causes your abdominal area to become distended and you may feel extra gassy. A normal bit of bloating happens to just about everyone by end of day. However, if you feel like your bloating is excessive or painful, then you may have a digestive condition such as irritable bowel syndrome. In this case, it would be important to visit your healthcare provider to assess your digestive health. However, there are other causes, both medical and non-medical that may be the reason for your bloating.
Medical causes of bloating
Bloating can be the result of a variety of digestive conditions. Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are two such conditions in which exposure to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, or rye can cause bloating. With celiac disease, bloating occurs since the body views gluten as a pathogen and in turn triggers an immune response. This response causes inflammation, which can lead to bloating and abdominal pain along with intestinal damage. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity can cause similar symptoms, but without intestinal damage.
Also, irritable bowel syndrome can cause bloating due to multiple factors such as reduced motility in the gut, imbalances in the gut microbiome, and/or bacterial overgrowth or infection in the intestinal tract. A low FODMAP diet, which eliminates certain common trigger foods from the diet, has been found to be helpful in reducing IBS symptoms like bloating.
Other causes of bloating
If you have not been diagnosed with any digestive conditions, then your bloating may be caused by one or more of the following:
- A food intolerance such as lactose or fructose intolerance, both of which can cause loose stools, gas, abdominal pain, and/or bloating. Testing, such as IgA, IgG, and IgE antibody testing, can help determine which foods are causing an immune response.
- Acid reflux can cause symptoms such as bloating and heartburn. Low stomach acid can also cause bloating. Both conditions should be diagnosed and treated by a qualified physician.
- Eating too much at one sitting can put a lot of pressure on the gastrointestinal tract and can make it hard for the body to digest efficiently.
- Eating too fast can also cause bloating since it may cause gas to enter your abdomen. Also, if you eat too fast, it will not give sufficient time for you to feel hungry, and in turn it can cause you to eat too much which can cause bloating and pressure in the abdomen.
How to prevent or treat bloating
If the cause of your bloating is a medical condition, then you should seek the advice and treatment of a qualified healthcare professional. Otherwise, here are some tips on ways you can reduce any non-medical-related causes of your bloating.
- Eat slower: Try to chew at least 15-30 times per bite; more for more solid foods like meat. It may be helpful to put your fork down in between bites to help slow down your eating or avoid sitting in front of the television since this can sometimes cause you to eat faster and less mindfully.
- Eat smaller meals: Instead of eating three large meals, it may be more beneficial to consume five to six smaller meals throughout the day. This method has been found to be helpful in reducing digestive symptoms in those with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Drink less carbonated beverages: Fizzy colas or carbonated beverages like beer or wine, especially if consumed in excess, can cause a buildup of gas in the abdomen that can cause bloating. Therefore, consume mostly non-carbonated drinks like water and tea.
- Start a food-symptom diary since you may have a food intolerance that you may not be aware of. As soon as you feel any bloating, abdominal cramping, loose stools, etc., write it down along with any foods you ate before and after the symptoms arose. After a while, you should be able to detect a pattern. If not, it may be helpful to visit a dietitian to help you determine which foods or ingredients may be triggering digestive symptoms.
- Move more since physical activity can help release some of the gas in your abdomen and in turn reduce bloating.
- Take a probiotic to help improve the condition of your gut microbiome, and in turn help improve digestion of food and reduce bloating.
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Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.