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Stomach Bloating after Eating

Stomach Bloating – What does it mean?

We all know the discomfort that brings on regret after we eat a particularly heavy meal. Imagine suffering from that feeling regularly and after every meal. This is what people suffering from bloating have to deal with. As per a population-based study carried out in the US, it was found that around 20% adults suffer from this condition.


Stomach bloating refers to the feeling of tightness and distension of the stomach, particularly after meals; and can sometimes be painful. This is often caused due to build-up of excess gas in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to both painful and embarrassing situations. Luckily, bloating is more often than not, easily resolved by few modifications to your diet and lifestyle. However, it is crucial to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms that when present along with this non-specific condition can herald the onset of some other serious condition. Keep reading to know more!

Why does my stomach bloat after eating anything?

There is no singular cause for bloating. Every individual who experiences this unpleasant discomfort might have a different cause.

stomach bloating

The basic pathophysiology behind bloating is two-pronged: incomplete digestion and imbalance of the bacteria in the gut. Incomplete digestion can occur due to poor production of acid in the stomach, reduced amount of digestive enzymes in our body (Heard of lactose intolerance?), and due to some medications that you are on, such as antacids. This incomplete digestion of food in your gut leads to the proliferation of the harmful bacteria that produce increased quantities of gas.

Causes of Stomach Bloating after Eating

Although the actual pathophysiology behind bloating is most often undigested food, this final outcome can be the result of various causes. A few common ones are as follows:

Food triggers

Certain food items are prone to cause bloating in most people. These include vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, beans, dairy products, and chicken among a few.

  • Although high-fiber diet is considered beneficial, a sudden switch to excessive dietary fiber can also lead to bloating. This is because fiber is difficult to digest and excess intake of it can lead to excessive gas production in the gut.
  • We all love our soda, and our chips, and our candies! However, these are all food items that when consumed, add to the woes of a person dealing with bloating.
  • Processed food such as bread, pasta, fried food items and cheese contains excessive quantities of starch that is difficult to digest.

Artificial sweeteners

Reaching out for the artificial sweeteners can prove as disastrous as having sugar. These artificial sweeteners contain sorbitol and other polyols, which are difficult to digest.

Food Intolerance

A few individuals are known to have certain food allergies that can also lead to bloating, as their gut is incapable of digesting those food items properly. This is because they lack the enzymes needed to digest that particular food item. Most commonly known food intolerances are lactose and gluten intolerance.

Wrong eating habits

Overeating or eating too fast is a common cause of bloating. It is said that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to signal satiety and curb your appetite. Imagine how much extra food you end up eating in 20 minutes if you gulping your food down. This leads to poor digestion. Moreover, eating fast results in excess air being swallowed, which again leads to distension of the gut.

Many people suffer from bloating only after eating restaurant meals or meals cooked a day prior. Reheating cooked food brings about certain changes in its molecular structure, which makes it more difficult to digest.

Hormonal changes

Bloating is a common symptom during the pre-menstrual phase. This is attributed to the increased levels of progesterone in the body.

Stress

We have an inbuilt gut-brain connection through something known as the vagus nerve in our bodies. Thus, any stress or deviation from a healthy mental state affects the gastrointestinal system. Moreover, being worried and stressed tempts us to reach out for our comfort foods, which is most likely unhealthy. All of these can lead to excessive bloating.

Smoking

Smoking has been implicated as a common cause of gastrointestinal distress, including bloating.

Medication

Excessive intake of antibiotics leads to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, making it more susceptible to bloating.

Can I be suffering from something serious if I have stomach bloating after meals?

Most often, bloating is an indicator of poor food habits or stress. However, occasionally, it can indicate an underlying health condition that could prove disastrous if ignored. Serious causes of bloating include Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, acid reflux, intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal infections, stomach cancer etc. These health conditions range from minor issues to cancers and hence, it is advisable to keep your eyes open for a few warning signs if you experience stomach bloating after meals regularly. If in doubt, it is best to consult a medical practitioner at the earliest. As they say, better safe than sorry!

These warning signs include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Vomiting out blood
  • Passing blood in your stools
  • Sudden and severe weight loss
  • Severe constipation for more than 2-3 days
  • Loose and uncontrollable diarrhea

How to Stop bloating after eating?

The most important step to stop bloating after meals is to figure out why is it happening in the first place. Only then can you take active measures to make the necessary lifestyle modification to get rid of it. The simple ways in which you can stop experiencing bloating are given below:

  • Recognize and avoid the food triggers
  • Limit the intake of processed food and aerated drinks
  • Take time to savor your meals. It is also recommended to eat multiple, smaller meals than one, large meal.
  • Add some exercise to your daily routine – Even a casual, short walk after meals helps in alleviating the discomfort of bloating after meals.
  • Maintain adequate hydration.
  • Increase the intake of probiotics in your diet.
  • If you are particularly stressed, try meditation and relaxation techniques.
  • Quit smoking, if you haven’t already!
  • Certain medications can help relieve you of bloating. The commonly available drugs include antispasmodics and dicyclomine.

Home Remedies

Yes! Apart from the lifestyle changes that you can easily do, certain home remedies can help you reduced the discomfort and pain due to stomach bloating.

Ginger

Ginger is nothing short of a magic trick as far as stomach trouble is concerned. Due to the chemicals in it, it can help ameliorate most of the common gut problems. You can eat a teaspoon of grated ginger as it is, or add it to your cup of hot tea.

Peppermint or chamomile tea

Methanol present in peppermint helps as an anti-spasmodic and relieves gut discomfort. It can be had as a cup of tea daily.

Regular intake of chamomile tea can also help reduce bloating as an anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory. Other herbs such as nutmeg, oregano, dill, fennel & cinnamon.

Turmeric

Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce bloating.

Caraway

Also known as jeera, it can help release the trapped, excess gas in your gut. It being a versatile ingredient, you can add it to food while cooking, munch on the seeds or just buy a few caraway crackers. Either way, it will provide your gut a much-needed respite.

Probiotics

These add to the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut and regular consumption of probiotics help in alleviating bloating and other gut conditions. A 2011 study showed that the probiotics helped 60 participants to reduce bloating. Probiotics are found in supplements or in yogurt, kimchi, miso etc.

Warm water

Warm water with a dash of lemon juice in it had first thing in the morning is an efficient and easy way to get rid of bloating. The lemon juice stimulates the production of stomach acid, which aids in digestion.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Like turmeric, apple cider vinegar helps to increase the production of stomach acid and help in reducing your stomach discomfort. You can add a spoonful of it to a glass of water and have it in the mornings or just before meals.

How can I Prevent Stomach bloating after meals?

If you want to keep away from this annoying discomfort, you can do so easily by ensuring a healthy lifestyle and incorporating a few changes in your diet, as follows:

  • Limit the intake of processed food items. Go raw!
  • Avoid excess salt in your diet
  • Reduce the quantities of fatty and spicy food in your diet
  • Keep exercising regularly
  • Avoid stress. Try yoga and other meditation techniques
  • Drink plenty of water; at least six to eight glasses a day
  • Avoid medications as far as possible.

Is stomach bloating more common during pregnancy?

Bloating is often considered an early sign of pregnancy and is much more common in pregnant women than non-pregnant. It usually lasts for the entire duration of pregnancy and results in excessive flatulence and discomfort.

It commonly occurs due to excess progesterone in the pregnant lady’s body. This hormone, responsible for relaxing the smooth muscles of the uterus, also relaxes those of the gut. Add to this, the enlargement of the uterus and limited physical activity; and you have bloating to deal with.

Although uncomfortable, it is quite normal to be bloated during pregnancy and you can alleviate the discomfort with the help of above-mentioned remedies.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, bloating is an alarm given off by your gut to indicate that it needs help. Only when you pay attention to your body’s needs and understand it better, will you be able to live a healthy life and enjoy yourself. Though not often a sign of impending doom, it is essential to figure out why is it happening and look for medical help in case something seems amiss.

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