Have you ever felt so inflated after a meal that you’d do just about anything to find relief? A swollen, bloated abdomen can make your whole body feel heavy and weigh down your mood. While there are many smart strategies for preventing bloating, sometimes it happens, and you just want to feel better fast.
What causes bloating?
You might have noticed that your midsection is blowing up more often. Among the reasons that bloating occurs, one important factor is age. “Seniors are predisposed to digestive issues due to diet, lack of activity and insufficient digestive enzymes," explains Sherry Torkos, author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. “Drugs that cause side effects of slowing gastric motility further exacerbate this,” she adds.
Uncomfortable bloat could come from several issues, or a combination of them, including a lack of fiber in your diet, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a food intolerance or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or a serious condition such as colon cancer. Assuming you’ve gotten the clear from a colonoscopy — recommended starting at age 45 — it is likely that your symptoms come from constipation, one of the main reasons many people experience gas and bloating.
There are also many foods that can trigger bloating. Dairy products, broccoli, beans, lentils and other high-fiber foods, artificial sweeteners and carbonated drinks are just a few examples.
Bloating is a common symptom, says Amy Bragagnini, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But that doesn’t mean there are always common roads to relief. Finding the right way to relief is personal, she says; “what works for one might not work for another.”
Which anti-bloat tips work best for you?
It is important to have a few strategies to relieve gas and bloating and improve digestion. What’s more, helping yourself find a successful solution can be especially gratifying. “I teach breathing and mindfulness to patients to help regulate the brain-gut connection,” says Suzanne Smith, a nurse practitioner who works alongside gastroenterologists and dietitians within UCLA’s Integrative Digestive Health & Wellness program. She explains that these are “supportive measures that can offer empowerment to the patient in real time.” When we feel a sense of control over something, our nervous systems relax, she says.
Here are 11 ways that can help relieve bloating.
1. Take a walk
A few minutes of low-impact exercise, like walking, can help your body digest and expel extra air, Torkos explains. Walking helps to strengthen muscles in the gut and stimulates the movement of waste through the colon. You don't need to exercise for long — a 10- to 15-minute walk is sufficient, Smith adds. A study published in Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench concluded that short-term physical activity could be effective in relieving abdominal bloating symptoms.