Firstly, I hope you understand that belly fat and belly bloating are two different things. In this article, we will only cover bloating, causes of bloating and how to fix bloating.
What Is Bloating?
Bloating is a feeling where your belly feels swollen, filled with air like a balloon or something pushing the belly outwards. It feels like you have eaten much more than you could manage even if it’s not the case.
Belly feels tight with minor discomfort but in some cases, pain or gas (flatulence) may also occur. Burping is very common in bloating.
Technically speaking, abdominal bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas.
The GI tract runs from the mouth to the anus (bottom). It includes your entire digestive system.
The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.
What Causes Bloating?
1. Gas and air
It is said that we need to chew our food properly and eat slowly. But we do not follow this simple rule. We eat fast, do not chew food properly and always stay distracted while eating (watching tv, talking, playing with mobile).
All of these means we end up swallowing much more than usual air while eating or drinking.
Gas is the most common cause of bloating, especially after eating. Gas builds up in the digestive tract when undigested food gets broken down or when you swallow air.
This air takes an exit out of our body via burping and flatulence.
Bloating can be caused by the type of food you eat. Some foods produce more gas than others. Eating a lot of salty food and carbohydrates can make you feel bloated.
Belly bloating can also be caused by food intolerance, usually to gluten, wheat or milk (lactose intolerance -problems with dairy). Lactose intolerance is most common. It is a condition that causes stomach discomfort. It’s your body’s dislike of the sugar contained in milk. This includes all dairy products.
Lactose is a milk sugar that is broken down by the enzyme lactase, which is found in the small intestine. Lactose intolerance is the reduced ability to digest milk sugars, most common in those who do not have enough gut enzyme called lactase.
Some people’s bodies do not make enough lactase, so they are not able to digest milk well, which can lead to bloating, diarrhea, cramps, and gas. This is referred to as “lactose intolerance.” Taking supplemental lactase can help break down lactose.
As per this research paper, acquired lactase deficiency is the most common cause of lactase deficiency. Most people, except those of northern European descent, begin to lose lactase activity by the age of 2 years. The lactase deficiency is highest (85 to 100%) in persons of Asian, African, and Native American descent.
There can be many indirect causes like stress, weight gain etc but some other direct medical reasons for bloating can be:
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs)
If you have IBS, following a high-fibre diet and the low FODMAP diet may help. This involves cutting out some dairy products, wheat and other grains, and some fruits and vegetables. Talk to a dietitian before starting this diet.
Sometimes probiotics containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium can help with bloating by reducing the production of gas in the gut.