Stomach inflammation, better known as bloating, happens to everyone. While being bloated generally isn’t cause for concern, it can cause discomfort. If you experience stomach bloating on a regular basis, it may be a sign of a more serious medical issue. Luckily there are plenty of home remedies to use and exercises to do to prevent and relieve this annoyance. Keep reading to find out what causes stomach inflammation, how to treat it, and ways to prevent this uncomfortable condition.
Causes of Bloating
Bloating can happen for a lot of reasons. When your stomach feels bloated, it’s most commonly caused by an accumulation of gas trapped in your intestine. This can happen in a variety of ways. Below are some of the most common causes of bloating:
Sipping fizzy drinks
Sodas, seltzer water, and alcoholic seltzer drinks for the over 21 crowd can be a fun indulgence, but the carbon dioxide they contain can also cause bloating. Carbon dioxide is a gas that expands (which is why sometimes soda bottles explode if you shake them) and releases into the liquid when a can or bottle is opened. By drinking fizzy drinks, you’re ingesting a lot of carbon dioxide that will continue to be released into your digestive tract over time. As a result, this can cause stomach bloating.
Processing ethanol, the type of alcohol in drinks like wine and beer, causes the digestive system to produce different gasses. This can be made worse by mixing alcohol with carbonated drinks or when the alcohol itself contains gas (like beer). Drinking these beverages on an empty stomach can create an even larger amount of gas and compound the effects alcohol has on your body.
Consuming too much salt
It's a well-known fact that salt can lead to bloating in different parts of the body since it causes water retention. Eating a diet that's high in sodium can increase both gas production and accumulation in the digestive tract. According to a study conducted at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, people who consume a lot of salt are more likely to feel bloated. The exact reasons why are still unclear, but it’s thought to have something to do with the gut bacteria being activated and releasing gas during the digestive process.
Consuming too much fiber
Dietary fiber can be found in all plant-based foods including whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, dried fruits, and legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils.) Consuming fiber has plenty of health benefits, like digestive regularity; weight loss; cholesterol and blood sugar control; and decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
However, moderation is key. Fiber-rich diets can also cause stomach inflammation by increasing the activity of certain gut bacteria. When your body processes fiber, these bacteria release different gasses as they work to break it down.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur before menstruation. One of the most common symptoms is bloating. The reason why people who menstruate suffer from PMS before starting their period isn’t completely understood, but bloating is one of its most frequently suffered symptoms.
Some people develop stomach inflammation when they eat certain foods. This is often due to an intolerance, allergy, or hypersensitivity to a component in the food itself. For example, one of the most common conditions that causes bloating is lactose intolerance. Lactose is found in dairy products. After people who can’t digest lactose consume milk, cheese, or yogurt, they suffer from bloating, excess gas buildup in their digestive tract, and more.
How to Prevent Stomach Inflammation
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before explaining how to reduce stomach bloating, we’d like to mention a few ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. While following these tips won’t help prevent all instances of bloating, they’ll definitely decrease your likelihood of suffering from it.
Drink more water
The main cause of bloating is gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract. Stomach acid sometimes creates more gas than usual when it comes into contact with food, which is why drinking water before eating can help prevent stomach inflammation.
Digestive transit is food's movement through the gastrointestinal tract. Slow digestive transit can cause bloating and discomfort in the abdomen. Luckily there are exercises that can be done to improve digestion and decrease this uncomfortable sensation. Even if you’re already feeling bloated, they can provide some relief.
Avoid bingeing and eat more slowly
Another way to prevent stomach bloating is to avoid eating too much or too quickly. Overeating can cause all types of digestive problems, including stomach inflammation. Eating too fast can be just as harmful for two reasons:
- Swallowing quickly can cause you to ingest air (sometimes called aerophagia).
- When you eat too quickly, you don’t chew your food well enough, making digestion more difficult and creating more gas.
Avoid stressful situations
Stress causes the body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can help you deal with dangerous situations because it increases blood pressure and allows sugar to be absorbed more quickly, so you can respond to those stressors more effectively. Chronic stress can cause stomach bloating since the presence of cortisol increases insulin resistance, triggering a whole host of issues within the digestive system.
Home Remedies to Decrease Stomach Inflammation
Even if you follow all the recommendations above, bloating is common, and you'll probably experience it at some point in your life. That’s why we’re recommending some of the best home remedies you can use to decrease stomach inflammation.
Ginger accelerates how quickly food travels through the digestive tract while protecting your intestines. It can also ease bloating, cramps, and gas. If you’re feeling bloated, boil a bit of ginger - either fresh or dried ground - to make a tea that will combat your symptoms.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed. They can be consumed as supplements or pills; more commonly, they are found in foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso. Some studies suggest that probiotics can help with digestive symptoms like bloating by improving the quality of gut bacteria. This can decrease inflammation and gas in your intestines.
Cucumber has a high potassium content that counteracts the harmful effects of sodium, one of the main culprits of bloating. This green veggie will decrease your sodium levels by helping it leave the body through your urine. Cucumbers are also rich in quercetin, caffeic acid, vitamin C, and silicon, a mineral known for its properties that help reduce inflammation. Just like placing slices of cucumber on your eyes prevents inflammation that causes dark undereye circles, eating cucumbers can also help decrease stomach inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains enzymes that aid digestion and reduce the gas released during the process. To maximize its benefits, stir a spoonful of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water every day and drink it. This simple beverage will help decrease stomach bloating.
Chamomile tea can be prepared by soaking chamomile flowers in hot water. This herbal drink has plenty of benefits, such as increasing feelings of relaxation and decreasing water retention. The properties in chamomile tea help calm the intestinal and stomach muscles and can also combat the bloating caused by lactose or dairy.
If Your Inflammation Doesn’t Subside, See a Doctor
We all suffer from bloating at some point. It doesn’t have to be cause for concern, and it generally can be treated easily. That being said, if any of the following occurs, we recommend calling or seeing your doctor:
- If bloating increases for several days and doesn’t go away;
- If there are other symptoms present that can’t be explained;
- If you feel pain when you touch or put light pressure on your stomach.
We know going to a doctor can be expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance. That’s why we created PODERsalud. When you sign up, you’ll gain unlimited access to virtual medical consultations for just $16.95 a month. The best part? You can see a doctor for any reason at any time!
Don’t Let Bloating Hold You Back!Bloating can be incapacitating for a lot of people, but we hope this information helps you manage it and continue living your life as usual. If you have more questions about bloating or other issues, feel free to contact us via chat anytime.
If you have a remedy for stomach inflammation that we haven’t covered in this article, share it with us and our community on our Facebook page! Your valued participation helps us provide more and better information to the Hispanic community in the United States.
Other health guides