Crippled by stomach pains and cramps? Here's what is causing it, and how to stop it.
Mike Roussell, PhD 1 / 5
4 Ways to Beat Bloating
There are few feelings worse than being bloated. If you're plagued by stomach pain on a frequent basis, thinking this is just ‘how you're supposed to feel,’ think again. Being bloated means that something is wrong.
Here are four common triggers of belly bloat, and how to fix them.
Monday morning bloat after a big night of watching football and eating chips, pizza, and chicken wings is an all too common scenario. Fortunately this is the most benign kind of bloating it is just your penalty for loading up on carbs and sodium the day before. Your bloated body is a results of increased sodium causing water retention in combination with hyper-saturation of your muscle glycogen stores (i.e. your muscle sugar stores). Dealing with the increased sodium that is causing water retention is simple. Don’t do anything drastic with your sodium intake over the next day or so; your body is very good at regulating and balancing levels of electrolytes like sodium. Drink lots of water and let your body do its job. The extra sodium and water that it is causing you to hold will be flushed out in no time. [see: 5 Ways to Curb Your Salt Intake >>>]
The hyper-saturation of your muscle glycogen that you are feeing post binge is due to an unconventional carbohydrate loading. While endurance athletes and bodybuilders usually take several days to carb load, research shows that hyper-saturation of your muscle glycogen stores can occur in 24 hour period. This can make you feel bloated because your body stores multiple water molecules with each sugar molecule inside your muscles. To accelerate the restoration of your muscle glycogen stores back to normal levels eat a carbohydrate reduced diet on your post binge day. You do not need to take drastic steps to eliminate all carbohydrates in your diet that day but foregoing food with a high carbohydrates density like breads, rice, pasta, potatoes, and other grains for more green vegetables and protein will force your body to rely more on its carbohydrates stores for energy. This will get rid of the bloat and get you feeling back to normal faster.
Dairy Food Bloat
Ten percent of Americans have some level of lactose intolerance. If you have lactose intolerance this means that your body is not able to effectively breakdown the dairy sugar lactose. Lactose is a dipeptide meaning that it is made up of the two simple sugars: glucose and galactose. In your digestive track the enzyme lactase is responsible to breaking the connection between glucose and galactose. Your body cannot do anything with these sugars until this bond is broken. If you can’t break this sugar bond the lactose will pass through your small intestines undigested. Once it hits your large intestine it causes you to be bloated in two different ways. This first has to do with the bacteria in your gut. The bacteria in your gut is essential for proper digestion and health but giving it lactose is like giving a toddler too much candy on Halloween – a recipe for disaster. The bacteria in your gut takes the lactose, ferments it, and through that process produces gas that causes you to feel bloated and your stomach to become distended. The other issue with lactose making it undigested to your large intestine is that is throws off the water balance causing water to be put into your large intestine (when functioning properly water is removed from your large intestine) causing further bloating and even diarrhea.
Lactose intolerance impacts different people at different levels of intensity. Some people cannot have any dairy while other can have yogurt or cheese but not milk. Reducing or avoiding your dairy intake it the best way to get rid of the lactose intolerance induced bloating. If you don’t want to get rid of your morning glass of milk or your post workout chocolate milk recovery shake then you’ll need to either take a supplemental lactase (available at any drug store) or purchase dairy products that have lactase already added to it (check out Lactaid brand dairy products). Either option will allow for the breakdown of lactose and your bloating issue will be solved. [see: Milk Fat May Cause Bowel Disease By Altering Gut Bacteria >>>]
Bloating associated with the ‘magical fruit’ is not a surprise to anyone. However it can be avoided. Bean bloating is very similar to lactose intolerance as the root cause of the bloating is undigested carbohydrates. The culprit this time are a class of carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, namely two specific carbohydrates – raffinose and stachyose. Just as with lactose intolerance they pass through your small intestine undigested, go to your large intestine and cause water balance and fermentation issues. Individual sensitivity to these types of carbohydrates (which are also found in cabbage) varies. There are two solutions for the bean bloat. Just as you can take a lactase pill to combat lactose intolerance you can take alpha-galactosidase supplement like Beano, to aid in the breakdown of these trouble carbohydrates. This will eliminate digestive issues and the bloating associated with eating beans. Your other option if you buy dry beans is to soak them overnight in water and baking soda as this has been shown to reduce oligosaccharides by up to 90%.
This last cause of bloating is not as common but it is still be a problem. High doses or long courses of antibiotics can cause a disruption in the amount and balance of the bacteria in your digestive track. Basically this bacteria is collateral damage in the antibiotics battle against the pathogenic bacteria that was making you sick. The result is that the landscape of good bacteria in your intestines is greatly diminished leading to impaired digestion and bloating. Fortunately the fix here is simple – probiotics. A 30 day course of probiotics will help repopulate your intestines with the bacteria it needs to maintain a healthy digestive process eliminating the cause of any bloating.