Sneaky Reasons You’re Bloated All the Time
Find out the most common culprits behind gas—and some natural remedies to relieve the pressure.
Bloated all the time?
While bloating may be common, it is never enjoyable. Bloating happens when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas, and can make you feel overly stuffed. Not only can it be uncomfortable, but you may notice physical signs as well, including a swollen or misshapen belly.
The good news? According to Abby Langer, a registered dietitian in Toronto, not all bloating is bad. “Bloating itself is normal after eating,” she says, noting that it simply means your gut and intestinal bacteria are feasting. “But if it’s accompanied by gas, cramps or gastrointestinal symptoms, then it becomes problematic.” Your stomach should not feel hard, and you should not be experiencing severe pain (if you’re experiencing those symptoms, see a doctor—it could be a warning sign).
If you find yourself bloated all the time, the five factors below may be to blame.
You ate bell peppers or broccoli
If you’re bloated all the time, it might be down to that heaping pile of veggies you had for dinner. Bell peppers, broccoli, legumes and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in fibre and low in calories, but they’re also big-time gas-producers.
That doesn’t mean you should leave the veggies off your plate. “You may want to eat fewer at one time—but definitely don’t stop eating them,” says Langer. “Because, again, bloating can be a good sign that the bugs in our gut are having a party.”
You can curb the worst of your veggie bloating by drinking between six tp eight 250mL glasses of water throughout the day and cutting down on any added salt, which causes water retention and will only add to the bloating.
Here’s what happens to your body when you start drinking eight glasses of water a day.
Your skinny vanilla latte
You don’t need to give up your morning coffee, but if you’re prone to ordering the “skinny” version of drinks, or use sugar alcohol-based alternative coffee sweeteners like mannitol or sorbitol, this may be the reason you’re bloated all the time.
“Sugar alcohols are very popular in the low-carb community,” Langer says. Unfortunately, sugar alcohols like xylitol, lactitol and isomalt also cause bloating—and may be the reason that you’re starting off mornings filled with air or gas.
If you’re insistent on a lower-calorie take on coffee, you can always try drinking your coffee black—so long as you’re not typically sensitive to caffeine, of course. (In some studies, drinking coffee has been linked to gastrointestinal issues like bloating. Try keeping a journal of how you feel after your morning cup to see if it’s the culprit.) Switching to tea is also on option, since it’s usually less acidic than coffee and has tons of health benefits.
Find out more tricks to make your daily coffee habit healthier.
Too much fibre, too fast
According to Langer, many people experience unexpected bloating when they make healthy changes to their diet, thanks to the sudden influx of fibre. When you start eating more high-fibre fruits like apples, mangoes, bananas, and strawberries, that fibre can sit in your colon and ferment, which causes bloating.
Just as you shouldn’t cut veggies out of your diet, don’t ditch the fruit—or your quest to increase your fibre intake. (On average, women need 25 grams of fibre per day and men 38 grams, but at the latest count, most Canadians are only getting half that amount.) Go gradually, try a variety of fibre-rich foods and spread your intake across meals. And remember, drinking enough water throughout the day can help keep your bloating in check.
You’re stressed out
Stress and bloating can feel like being stuck in an endless loop. You’re stressed, so you’re bloated… and because you’re bloating, you’re stressed! “When we’re stressed out,” says Langer, “the brain tells the gut to slow down our digestion.”
That’s because stress triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response. When that happens, your gut isn’t contracting as often and food isn’t moving through your digestive system because your brain and body are focused on the stressor.
Defeating stress can be tricky—especially since we aren’t always outwardly aware we’re feeling that way. Maybe you’re on vacation to a warm, relaxing place, and yet the subconscious stress of travel means you’re both bloated and constipated. Miserable!
Here are 10 mental health podcasts worth adding to your playlist.
You love carbonated water
Many people love sparkling water as an alternative to flat water. In fact, the sparkling water industry is one of the fastest-growing non-alcoholic beverage categories. It can be a much healthier choice than certain indulgences, such as pop and alcohol, so it feels like a win.
But, “If you consume gas, you’re going to be having gas in your belly,” Langer says. Movement, whether it’s intense or gentle, can help move the gas through your system. Langer suggests getting up and going for a short walk, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day.
Now you know why you’re bloated all the time, find out what your poop says about your health.