Abdominal bloating can affect your looks and cause considerable discomfort. But according to experts, abdominal bloating can be controlled and avoided easily. Abdominal bloating does not refer to the extra pounds of fat stored in the abdomen, but the temporary distension that affects from time-to-time. Michael Jensen, MD, an endocrinologist and obesity researcher at Mayo Clinic, explains that unless bloating is caused by different conditions, like liver or heart disease, it's easy to avoid.
“Many people believe that bloating is caused by the accumulation of fluid. But this is not true as abdomen is not the place where fluid accumulation happens,” says Jensen. Ankles and feet are the two places where it's easy to see the accumulation of fluid. There are a number of causes for intestinal gas in adults, including intolerance to certain foods and constipation.
Tips to avoid intestinal gas and bloating
Low intake of fiber, fluid, and less physical activity can all cause constipation, which in turn may result in bloating. Eating a diet rich in fiber with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help to avoid this condition. Drink plenty of liquids and try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity for five times a week. If you have been eating less fiber, gradually increase the amount with a corresponding increase in fluid intake to build up yourtolerance.
Discuss with your doctor and confirm whether you are having wheat allergies or lactose intolerance as both the conditions can lead to bloating. Many people self-diagnose the conditions before confirming with the doctor, and avoid having healthy dairy and whole grains in the diet. If you do have an allergy, it is better to reduce the amount of suspected food in the diet. If you have lactose intolerance, choose aged cheeses and yogurts, or goat's dairy products, which all have lower amounts of lactose.
“When one eats too fast without chewing properly, it may lead to swallowing of air that further leads to bloating," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. So eat the food slowly, and make your meal last for 30 minutes. “Since digestion begins in the mouth, chewing the food thoroughly will decrease bloating," says Blatner. It also helps make the snack or meal more satisfying. The additional benefit of eating slowly is that you tend to eat less.
Avoid carbonated drinks
According to Blatner, the fizz in carbonated drinks may lead to the trapping of gas in the abdomen. Opt for water flavored with lemon, lime, or cucumber instead of these drinks. Reducing the intake of carbonated drinks will help to reduce bloating. Peppermint tea may help to lower the bloating feeling in the abdomen.
Avoid too much chewing gum
Chewing gum leads to swallowing air, which results in bloating. One can come out of the habit of chewing gum by alternating it with a hard candy or a healthy snack like fruit, vegetables, or low-fat popcorn.
Choose the right type of sugar-free food
“Having too much sugar and alcohol present in artificially sweetened foods and drinks also leads to bloating," says Blatner. Try to limit the intake of artificially sweetened food to two to three servings per day.
Highly processed foods are rich in sodium and low in fiber, both of which may lead to bloating. When buying processed, canned, or frozen foods, choose products that do not contain more than 500 mg of sodium per serving.
Limit beans and gassy vegetables
Vegetables like beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower can cause a gassy feeling. But it's important not to miss out on these highly nutritious, high-fiber vegetables. Slowly work them into the diet until the body gets adjusted to the vegetable.
Eat smaller meals more often
A bloated feeling often follows large meals, so eating small quantities more often can help to prevent it. Eating frequently will also control blood sugar levels and manage hunger better. Have five to six small meals each day with the required amounts of calories.
Anti-bloating foods and drinks
According to some studies, peppermint tea, ginger, pineapple, parsley, and yogurts containing probiotics may all help to reduce bloating. All these foods are safe and can be used to de-bloat when used appropriately.
Laxatives, water pills, fasting, and skipping meals are not good options to lose weight or to de-bloat. “The best way to have a flat belly for the long term is to lose a few extra pounds," says Jensen. When the body loses body fat, it reduces the abdominal fat preferential.
Experts warn that doing abdominal exercises alone may not get rid of belly fat. Pilates and exercise ball workouts helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles and these can make the belly look better. “Toning and strengthening of the abdominal muscles and help to look less fat, improve the appearance, muscle tone and posture," adds Jensen.