While gas is a normal part of the digestion process, with the average adult passing gas between 13 and 21 times a day, gas buildup in your intestines can be incredibly uncomfortable and even painful. When this happens, you may experience accompanied bloating that leaves you wondering what went wrong.
From overeating or eating certain foods, to swallowing air while you eat or drink, to chewing gum or smoking cigarettes, there are various things you could be doing wrong.
To eliminate bloating, you first need to understand the root of the cause, and also how to alleviate it once its set in.
Eliminate Trigger Foods
There are many foods in the diet that could serve as bloating triggers. Many of these fall within the category of “FODMAP,” which stands for:
- Fermentable – broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
- Oligosaccharides – “oligo” meaning “few” and “saccharide” meaning sugar, in which the molecules are made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain
- Disaccharides – “di” meaning two, referring to a double sugar molecule
- Monosaccharides – “mono” meaning single, referring to a single sugar molecule
- And Polyols – sugar alcohols
There are other foods that can trigger bloating as well, like chewing gum and hard candy, which cause you to swallow excess air, carbonated beverages, which can introduce additional gas into the digestive tract, coffee, especially for those that have a coffee intolerance, and nutrition supplements, like low-quality protein powders.
Take Advantage of Probiotics
Naturally found in some foods, probiotics can help restore the bacterial balance to promote digestive health and eliminate bloating. Probiotic supplements are also beneficial, though not all brands are proven to work. In fact, bifidobacterium infantis is the only probiotic strain that studies show relieves GI symptoms.
Incorporate Low-Intensity Exercise
Exercise seems to be a cure-all, though many people still struggle to find motivation to do it. When you’re feeling bodily discomfort, it may even seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but low-intensity exercise could be just the cure you need. Research suggests it helps move gas through the digestive tract, which in turn reduces bloating.
In fact, in one study of eight volunteers, in which seven had IBS, and all received infusions of gas into the digestive tract, the subjects switched between rest and low-intensity exercise on a stationary bike. The researchers found that those at rest retained 45% of infused gas compared to only 24% during exercise.
Studies have found that peppermint tea or supplements may work to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including gas.
Peppermint oil has also been shown to help those suffering from bloating. In one study of 35 people with IBS, one group received capsules containing peppermint oil and fiber three times per day, while another group received a placebo pill that only contained fiber. The researchers found that after our weeks, it was the peppermint oil group that showed a 53.5% improvement in symptoms including bloating, while the fiber-only group showed a 28.1% improvement.
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