There can be many causes to cause bloating, most of them related to bad habits, others related to an incorrect mix of foods. As popular wisdom goes, it is easier to prevent than to reduce and get rid of excessive fermentation gas. We all have wished at least once to know how to reduce bloating but it becomes a problem when it starts to happen too often. In fact bloating is one of the more common ailments among patients who consult with a doctor being one of the hardest to admit because of the shame associated with the symptoms.
If you’re searching for a quick way to soothe an already bloated stomach you can read our article on reducing a bloated stomach with natural herbs but if you feel distention more often than you’d like and want to prevent it from happening again then this article will help you.
- Dilatation of the stomach and intestines
- Excessive belching
- A weighting sensation under the sternum
- Abnormal need of farting (in adults between 14 and 23 farts daily is considered normal).
In severe cases it can produce more worrying symptoms:
- Difficulty to breathe, choking.
- Chest pains, sensations similar to having a heart attack.
This is caused by the elevation of the hemi-diaphragm, a muscle that divides the abdominal cavity to the thorax and can induce these types of symptoms. Unfortunately there are still many doctors that classify this as a stress related ailment and actually don’t know much about how to reduce bloating.
Although it is normal that a person produces gas in the intestines through fermentation (with a maximum amount of 200ml. per day). The fact that a patient produces an excessive quantity is due to different causes that are generally easy to prevent and mostly related to our eating habits.
Why do we produce gas in excess?
As we have mentioned we produce excessive gas and bloating because of our lifestyle. We eat fast and with anxiety, incorrectly chewing and poorly salivating the food while we talk. This makes us swallow air (aerophagia). It happens again when we chew gum or smoke a cigarette for example.
Pure air components are; 78% Hydrogen and 21% Oxygen. Intestinal gas components are; 60% Nitrogen, 20% Hydrogen, 10% Carbon Hydrogen, 6% Methane and 4% Oxygen. In some cases, as we’ve seen, due to aerofagia, in other to different causes.
Before talking about how to reduce bloating we should list the most common causes that produce excessive gas in our intestines:
- Eat fast or in a hurry without properly salivating and chewing the food.
- Mix incompatible foods or add too many carbohydrates, fiber or gassy foods to our dishes.
- As it happens with cereals, except rice, with legumes, especially chickpeas, beans, and lentils.
- Some vegetables; broccoli, onion, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, swede, asparagus, potatoes, cucumbers and radishes.
- In the case of fruits whenever they aren’t eaten alone they produce gas due to incompatible enzymes required to digest them together with any other type of food.
- There’s more to this as not mixing “sweet” and “acid” fruits or some fruits that can be mixed even with other types of fruits like oranges or melon but this will be for another article.
- Drink soda or excessive liquids during our main lunches.
- Any liquid dissolves gastric juices, reducing their digestive potency and increasing the chance of having undigested material in the intestines thus producing more fermentation and gas.
- But specially, regular soda consumption appears to reduce the secretion of HCl in your stomach over time. This seems caused by soda content of phosphoric acid.
- Poor hydrochloric acid secretion is really bad for your health. It not only makes you bloated but impairs your nutrient absorption and makes you vulnerable to pathogens.
- Talking too much while eating, anxiety, stress, inactivity. Walking promotes gastric secretions and bowel movement.
- Food intolerances.
- These are processes similar to allergic reactions triggered by determined foods that produce many different symptoms; bloating and excessive fermentation among them.
- There can be so many and to so many unexpected foods that the only way to detect them reliably is to have a test in a reputed lab.
- Many types of drugs like oral antibiotics, anti-acids, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, etc.
- Antibiotics can hit our microflora balance hard since they don’t distinguish between beneficial and harmful bacteria and recent research demostrated that our flora degrades and don’t recover after each oral antibiotic dosis.
- Ibuprofen has some side effects that can affect our gut health as well like producing leaky gut syndrome with prolonged use.
- Anti-acid produces a neutralizing effect on our gastric juices and is generally bad for health even more than sodas.
- The correct way to fix acid reflux is strengthening gastric juices. The cause of reflux is a poorly closed pyloric esphincter by a poor stomach acidity.
- Some digestive dysfunctions and diseases.
- Specially lacking digestive enzymes needed in enough quantities, most commonly lactase, an enzyme that helps to digest dairy products.
- Being constipated or having pancreatic alterations, stomach ulcers, poor gastric juice secretion or lacking a proper microflora balance as in irritable bowel, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
These are the main factors that generate excessive gas and increase bloating and, as we know can produce uncomfortable situations altering our social and professional life.
Our bodies have less obvious ways to reduce bloating; we absorb gas along the intestinal tube, it gets into the bloodstream and our body deposit it in the lungs where we eliminate it. Also there are types of bacteria that assimilate that gas but the problem is that these processes are effective only for small quantities.
Quick Solution that Solves The Question of How to Reduce Bloating
In case you already feel bloated and need to get rid of gas there are drugs based on simethicone, an anti-foaming substance. That is, it promotes the formation of big gas bubbles from many smaller ones as the former are easier to move through the intestinal tube.
The disadvantage is that it doesn’t prevent ongoing fermentation processes, only facilitates their expulsion. There are natural herbs that act more synergistically to reduce bloating.
Longer But Lasting Solution to Reduce and Prevent Bloating
In short, if you really want to know how to reduce bloating effectively, change your eating habits and customs. With a small effort you will prevent the majority of the pain and discomfort associated with bloating:
- Find out if you have a food intolerance through a reputed test.
- Get rid of sodas and sugary drinks in general. Not only they produce bloating but are bad for health in many ways.
- Also don’t drink liquids while you’re eating since it dilutes gastric juices, decreasing its digestive power. Leave thirty minutes to eat if you drinked before or wait at least two hours if you want to drink after eating.
- If you frequently suffer from acid reflux or stomach acidity even after eliminating sodas and liquids while eating you can try getting betaine tablets that strengthen gastric juices. As we mentioned, will have a synergistical effect to your whole health.
- Again it may seem an ironical answer to the problem of how to reduce bloating but poor stomach acidity is most often the cause of acid reflux.
- Stomach must be naturally very acidic when digesting food and more importantly the pylorus should be tightly closed which only happens with strong and healthy gastric juice secretions.
- Do not eat fruit during or just after eating. Wait at least three hours before or after any type of food.
- Ideally fruits should only be eaten alone and first thing in the morning.
- Do not ever mix proteins (for example meat, soy…) and refined carbohydrates (for example bread, buns, pasta, potatoes, cereals…)
- Drink and eat slowly, properly chewing and salivating and ensuring that the bits of food you introduce on your mouth are a like a dice in size.
- If you have dental problems chew your food more thoroughly.
- Seat comfortably and don’t talk too much or about stressing subjects. Stress is one of the keys on how to reduce bloating.
- After the eating is done relax for a couple of minutes and go for a ten minute walk.
- Eat more frequently and in smaller quantities than a few big dishes per day.
- Also do not season your dishes too much. Avoid irritant seasonings like chili or pepper.
- Try not to eat fried foods, use alternatives like steam or wok cooking.
- Avoid animal milk and fermented cheese.
- Use rice, almond or oak milk as substitute.
- One recommended dairy product that will help your gut flora is milk kefir. Its beneficial properties will be left for its own article.
- As mentioned earlier in the causes for bloating, avoid flatulent legumes and vegetables:
- You can soak pulses for eight hours, break the boiling when half cooked, peel them and make a puree as ways to reduce the chance that legumes produce bloating.
- One sure way to eliminate the chance is to sprout them, which increase their nutrients and health benefits as well.
- Boil pasta very thoroughly, try to avoid eating it “al dente”, that is, a bit hard as italians do and let it get softer.
- These types of foods (especially fiber, carbohydrates and starch) are gassier than normal because they aren’t digested and absorbed in the small intestine.
- They reach the big intestine relatively intact where they are fermented by the bacteria present there. Then they form the type of gases mentioned before plus sulfur compounds which produce that odor similar to rotten eggs.
- Try to eat probiotic and prebiotic foods that help your intestinal flora.
- Good examples are sauerkraut, water and milk kefir, kombucha, some pickles or fermented soy products like miso, tempeh, natto and many others.
- Although easy to find, avoid any unfermented soy product since all are toxic.
- These will make some people even gassier than before. You may ask, how to reduce bloating with these kind of gassy foods? Trust us, it will pass eventually. Balancing your gut flora with probiotics is one of the best methods to reduce intestinal fermentation.
- Also make sure your body produces enough digestive enzymes. These are substances secreted mainly by the pancreas, liver, stomach and intestine that are necessary for a proper digestion. They are of three kinds:
- Protease, in charge of protein digestion.
- Amilase, in charge of transform carbohydrates in sugars.
- Lipase, in charge of lipid metabolism.
- To ensure a proper amount of these enzymes, eat a good amount of fruits first thing in the morning with hot tea or tisane.
- Fruits like apple, pineapple, kiwi and papaya. Also many types of vegetables contain them.
- There’s another food that contain the three types of enzymes in a healthy amount, raw egg yolk, in addition to that, there’s a wide variety of enzymatic supplements available in herb stores and pharmacies.
- Avoid coffee and red or black tea, drink green tea or digestive tisanes instead.
- Try to avoid constipation since is one of the main causes of bloating.
These are the main changes you can make if you really want to know how to reduce bloating in a lasting manner. It is more of a daily effort and small lifestyle change than using fancy pharmaceutical drugs or natural herbs.
Common sense and perseverance is the key. In the beginning, some changes may increase your gas, like eating fermented foods, but that is a normal reaction. Beneficial bacteria is killing the pathogenic microorganisms in your gut and the gas is a die-off reaction.
If it is too uncomfortable lower the dose of probiotics and keep taking it. Eventually your intestinal flora will balance itself out and you will feel much better. Ironically the answer to the question of how to reduce bloating is to actually increase it… in the right way.