Whether the culprit is dehydration, too much stress, or (a typical Dallas issue) excess heat, bloating is a gremlin we all have to deal with. But, have no fear, we’re here to help.
We had the pleasure of speaking to local registered dietitian, Nikki Nies, to learn what exactly causes bloating and what we can do to lessen the unpleasant symptoms.
- What exactly causes bloating?
It can be due to gas production, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption of the stomach, stress, constipation, dehydration, alcohol use, lack of sleep and/or due to less than optimal food choices.
2. Is there a difference between bloating and water weight?
Yes, bloating is most common after meals or at the end of the day as it is a response to the increase in volume from food and fluids. Water weight is the extra fluid that appears around tissues, joints and body cavities between cells due to shifts in body’s fluid status. This additional common fluctuation of 2-4 pounds can last for a few hours or a few days. Causes of water retention may be due to hot weather, premenstrual symptoms, insufficient protein intake or due to medication side effects.
3. Are there specific foods that can help with bloating and inflammation?
By adding more probiotic rich and fermented foods (e.g. kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt) and finding a balance in sodium and potassium intake can help. Potassium rich foods, such as bananas, avocados, tomatoes, asparagus are great natural diuretics and can help remove excess sodium from the body.
Limit gassy vegetables (e.g. kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) and experiment with different seasonings and spices instead of adding salt.
4. What are a few tips you would suggest to people who are looking to reduce a little bit of bloating within a few weeks of vacation?
If constipation is the cause of bloating, get moving a bit more throughout the day. That could be taking the dog for extra long walks after dinner, swimming or finding a local dance class to join. Working out can help stimulate blood flow and flush out any potential excess water in the body.
Reduce intake of fried, fatty foods as they can oftentimes make you feel uncomfortable. Fat digests at a slower rate than protein and carbohydrates and therefore keeps the stomach full longer.
Lastly, take your time eating. Since satiety signals can take as long as 20 minutes to reach the brain, eating more slowly can combat overeating.
5. Is bloating sometimes unavoidable?
Yes, by consuming balanced meals that contain fiber you can limit constipation, which can be a big culprit for bloating. Also, eating smaller, more frequent meals may provide relief. Some people also find that lactose in dairy can lead to ingestion. If that’s a problem for you, try experimenting by removing dairy from your diet.
Lastly, limiting intake of carbonated beverages and use of straws may help as these beverages are high in added CO2 and can be a direct cause of an inflated feeling as sucking on a straw forces air along with your beverage into the stomach.