Bloating seems to be one problem we can’t escape. It’s not only a nuisance when you’re trying to shimmy into your go-to skinny jeans, but it can also be pretty uncomfortable (and sometimes painful).
So what’s causing all that bloating? While everyone’s body is different, there are some common triggers that can lead to a full, gassy stomach. From dehydration to a lack of fiber in your diet, here are five reasons why you might feel bloated.
It might sound counterintuitive, but not drinking enough water can make you feel bloated. “When your body is not properly hydrated, it does its best to hang onto as much water as it can,” says Anna Mason, a registered dietician. “This prevents cells from releasing its normal amount of water and causes that bloating feeling. Drinking water relieves that duty for your body and allows the water-in and water-out to proceed normally.”
Too much salt
If you’ve been eating out at restaurants frequently, you might be getting too much salt in your diet without realizing it. “Salt causes your body to cling to water,” says Mason. “Excess salt means excess water. Whether you’re a table salt user, a lover of fast food, or a processed food connoisseur, chances are you’re taking in more salt than you think. Start checking those labels and choose fresh or frozen over packaged.”
Unfortunately, some foods, even nutritious ones, can cause that dreaded bloat. “Across the spectrum of healthy and unhealthy eating patterns, there are foods that just produce more gas,” says Mason. “Cruciferous vegetables, fermented or carbonated beverages, many sugar substitutes, and beans are just a few of the many foods that tend to produce more gas when it hits your gastrointestinal system. To help, keep a log of your foods and symptoms. You’ll notice patterns of the foods that make you bloat. Some of these foods are still very good for you, but it’s nice to know what you’re getting yourself into.”
Too little fiber
On the flip side, if you’re not eating enough of the right foods, you can experience bloating as well. “Dietary fiber is crucial to proper digestion,” says Mason. “Constipation and bloating often go hand and hand. Fiber helps add bulk and move your waste along. Although fiber supplements are good for some people, many of us just need to be putting down more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils to get things flowing.”
Before you self-diagnose your bloating and stomach discomfort, take a trip to your doctor. Bloating can be a result of irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease inflammatory bowel disease, and a variety of other conditions. “Like your mom always said, it’s probably nothing to worry about,” says Mason. “But just in case, if your bloating is noteworthy, head to your doctor. Worry just isn’t worth it.”
xx, The FabFitFun Team