Let’s talk belly bloat. You know, that yucky feeling like your insides are ballooning to blimp-sized proportions. Most of us have been there a time or two. And then there are the stomach pains and excessive gas that sometimes tag along—what are those all about?
In truth, there may be many possible reasons behind a bloated stomach and the discomfort that goes along with it, from food sensitivity to an underlying health problem. The good news is that there are natural ways to reduce and possibly prevent occasional stomach pain and bloating before it happens. But first, let’s look at the signs and symptoms of a bloated belly and what your gastrointestinal system may be trying to tell you.
Signs and Symptoms: What is Your Body Saying?
While the occasional bloated belly and stomach pain may happen after a big meal, ongoing problems may be cause for concern. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, you are more likely to experience problems with bloating if you:
- Are lactose or gluten intolerant;
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes ;
- Drink carbonated beverages; and/or
- Have a chronic intestinal condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
Additional signs and symptoms may include increased flatulence (passing gas), severe cramping or shooting pains, a knotted feeling your abdominal area, and a feeling of swelling or tightness in your midsection. Let’s take a deeper look into what may be triggering those symptoms.
What Causes Bloating and Stomach Pain?
When you really sit down and think about, the human digestive system is pretty amazing, turning the food we eat into fuel the body uses for energy and to help us grow. But when you consider the more than 100 trillion microscopic organisms that exist in a delicate balance inside your digestive tract, you begin to see how even small changes in our everyday routine can impact healthy digestion and lead to occasional stomach pain and bloating. In fact, all too often digestive problems can be attributed to digestive imbalance—or when there is no longer an ideal ratio of good bacteria (called probiotics) and neutral bacteria to harmful bacteria in your gut. Other causes may include:
- Diet: Many people experience bloating after eating. This can be the result of eating certain foods known to cause digestive discomfort. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to excess gas and stomach upset.
- Swallowing air: You may not think about it, but every time you drink, eat or even chew gum you are swallowing air. More air can lead to more gas in your intestinal tract.
Is There a Natural Treatment Option?
If you have ever wondered about ways to reduce bloating, you’re not alone. First, you should know there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. Instead, it is often a combination of things that can help reduce occasional bloating and stomach pain, including the use of natural digestive wellness supplements. Here are some helpful tips:
- Eat a healthy diet: Avoid heavily processed foods, fried or fatty foods and artificial sweeteners. Those with known food sensitivity may need to avoid certain foods such as dairy products and foods that contain gluten.
- Listen to your body: Keep track of the factors that lead to your occasional bloating and stomach pain. Are they food related? Does it happen at different times throughout the day? Do you have any other symptoms? These may provide helpful clues to improve digestive health.
- Take a daily probiotic: As we’ve learned, occasional stomach pain and bloating are often caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Taking a daily probiotic supplement like Renew Life® Ultimate Flora™ Probiotics may help reestablish digestive balance for those who experience occasional digestive discomfort.*
- Take digestive enzymes: We all indulge every now and then, but many of the healthy, high-fiber foods we eat every day can also cause occasional bloating and stomach pain. Supplemental digestive enzymes can help prevent or reduce these discomforts so you can feel comfortable eating the foods you enjoy.*
- Consider regular herbal cleansing: Herbal cleanse and detox formulas work with your body’s natural metabolism to help eliminate waste and toxins that can lead to digestive imbalance.*
- Drink plenty of water each day: The scientific community has produced hundreds of studies indicating drinking more water contributes to a healthy weight. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified (filtered) water every day.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Instead of three large meals a day, eating smaller meals more frequently may help reduce the risk of stomach pain and bloating. Remember to take your time eating and chew slowly.
- Exercise regularly. Along with helping to move gas through your digestive tract, exercise supports a balanced bacterial environment in the gut—which can help prevent occasional bloating and stomach pain.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
While occasional bloating and stomach pain happen to many of us, there are times when you may need to talk to your health care practitioner. If your symptoms persist and begin to interfere with your normal life, contact your doctor and let him or her know. In addition, if you develop symptoms such as nausea and/or vomiting, a change in stool color or frequency, bloody stool, weight loss or chest pain, let your doctor know immediately. Even though digestive health may be a difficult subject to talk about, it is important to be open and honest with your health care practitioner. Because least 70% of your immune system is in your gut, taking care of your digestive health is an important step toward feeling your best every day.