Stomach bloating is a physical clue that our digestive system isn’t working optimally, and this can be due to a variety of reasons.
From eating too quickly to food allergies, there are eight everyday habits that could be making you bloated, according to nutrition specialist at fitness app Freeletics, David Wiener.
Eating too quickly
He said: “Eating too quickly robs your body of the chance to track its consumption and send the appropriate safety signals to your brain, meaning you can end up with that overly full feeling and a distended, bloated stomach.
Not chewing properly
Not chewing food properly can significantly contribute to bloating and other digestive issues.
David explained: “This is because chewing helps to mechanically break down food and release digestive enzymes in saliva. Bypassing this important stage of digestion puts more pressure on the rest of the digestive tract, meaning food may sit longer in the gut fermenting and producing gas.
“Inhaling your food also means you are likely to swallow more air, only adding to the problem. Try to chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing and put your cutlery down between each mouthful.”
Being distracted when eating
Eating on the go, in front of the tv or at your desk can also affect digestion, according to David.
He said: “The digestive process starts in the brain and begins even before food enters the stomach. This is because the sight, smell, thought or taste of food stimulates the digestive process. When we are focused on other things rather than our food, this phase is inhibited which can contribute to bloating.”
When you chew gum, you’re inhaling excess air, which gets trapped in the stomach and intestines, causing you to burp and release gas.
David added: “In addition, sugar-free gum often contains artificial sweeteners, which people can find tricky to digest and, as a result, can exacerbate gas and bloating.”
When your body is dehydrated, it retains fluid, making you feel puffy and bloated. Drinking lots of water can potentially reduce the likelihood of bloating, says David.
He advised: “This is because dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can halt digestion as, when your body attempts to counter-balance the effects of being dehydrated, it holds on to excess water.”
Our digestive system is particularly susceptible to the effects of stress. David explained: “When we are stressed we produce less stomach acid and digestive enzymes and our gut bacteria can be negatively affected, increasing the risk of bloating.
“Remember to take time out for yourself, for example by doing gentle exercise such as walking and yoga, breathing exercises or meditation, and get a good night’s sleep. Talking to a professional who can advise on relaxation techniques and/or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be beneficial for those with digestive issues.”
Eating too late at night
David said: “Today, the average time people eat their evening meal has gotten considerably later.
“Whilst this may allow you to work late or pack more social events into your evenings, eating too close to going to bed puts additional strain on the digestive system.”
Food allergies, sensitives or intolerances can lead to bloating.
David added: “The two most common forms of food that lead to bloating are dairy products and foods containing gluten. Even people who are not officially diagnosed as being allergic can experience sensitivity to these foods and experience constipation and bloating.”
Taking supplements could help reduce your bloated stomach.