10 Tips That Can Help With Bloating and Water Retention You’d Wish You’d Known Sooner
Roughly around 20% to 30% of the general population experience bloating. While for 96% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating is a regular problem. Over 50% of those affected report a drastic impact on their quality of life, research shows.
The swelling in the belly usually appears after eating. Often triggered by a disturbance in the muscle movement of the digestive system and the excess gas. Not only does it make the stomach look bigger, but it can also cause discomfort and pain.
For fitness enthusiasts, bloating can feel like quite a setback. It can make you feel heavier. All that huffing and puffing leaves you gulping down air as you try to catch your breath when you exercise at the gym. There is also the post-workout bloat. The chronically high cortisol levels are causing increased blood pressure, which, in turn, leads to fluid retention.
The question is, how do you reduce bloating and water retention? Is there a full-proof method to get your belly back on track? Here, you will take a closer look at all the available strategies to reduce bloating.
1. Focus on Smaller Portions
When you stuff your belly with food, you increase the pressure on the abdomen. This is mostly a sensory problem. Individuals who are susceptible to bloating will experience discomfort more commonly when they eat too much food.
That's why you should focus on your portion size. Smaller food portions are easier to digest. To eat one smaller portion doesn't mean you should weigh and measure everything you eat to a tee. It's about carefully aligning your meal plans to supply the system with a healthy dose of nutrients.
The serving size should provide you with a filling meal. Its actual size, however, can vary from meal to meal. Here is a typical example of how a small portion for adults looks like. People choose foods daily from the following:
- Veggies – 250 to 380 grams
- Grains – 140 to 220 grams
- Fruits – 60 to 250 grams
- Protein – 140 to 200 grams
- Oils – 70 ml to 100 ml
- Dairy – 700 ml or 380 grams (low-fat or fat-free)
Taking your time to chew and digest the food can help with the bloating as well. Based on statistics, slow rate chewing helped volunteers in the study to consume 25% fewer snacks. The slow rate at which they ate was effective at altering their eating patterns. They ate less and managed to improve their fullness. So, when you pair the slow chewing with smaller food portions, you might be able to notice a significant decrease in bloating and water retention problems.
If you want to pair your meals with digestive supplements that help with bloating, then products like Digestive-Zymes by Herbs Of Gold can come in handy. This is a multi-blended digestive enzyme product that can boost the digestibility of fats, carbs, and protein. Due to its plant and microbial-derived enzymes, it can get the digestive system back on the right path.
2. Avoid Bloating Triggers
Not all foods are a good choice. Some people might not realise it, but food intolerances can happen to anyone. Experts estimate that around 20% of the global population might have a food intolerance. That's making them sensitive to a certain food, and this sensitivity often goes unnoticed.
The most common bloating triggers are:
- Fructose – About 1 in 20,000 to 30,000 people have hereditary fructose intolerance. It is often linked with countless digestive problems, the most common one being bloating. It can also lead to abdominal pain, gas, chronic fatigue, and iron malabsorption.
- Gluten – About 0.5% to 6% of the world population have gluten sensitivity. These people can’t handle eating barley, wheat, or different grains because the sensitivity is causing bloating and poor digestion.
- Lactose – From 2011 to 2015, the number of Australian adults with lactose intolerance has increased from 2.8% to 4%, predominantly in the female population. The sensitivity is causing bloating, cramps, pain, diarrhoea, etc.
- Eggs – Although not as common as other intolerances, egg sensitivity can still cause bloating, cramps, and pain.
3. Skip the Fizzy Drinks
Two factors can cause gas in the digestive system. The first one comes from the bacteria in the gut, and the second one is swallowed when you drink or eat. Fizzy drinks are a common trigger for bloating and water retention.
Their bubbles come from carbon dioxide, which is released into the system once it gets to the stomach. Using other products, like chewing gum, can also have a similar effect.
According to studies, the different molecular sizes of sugar alcohols, like the ones added to fermented foods, mints, and chewing gum, have various absorption patterns. Therefore, they are more likely to affect the gas and fluid content of the bowel. They can make you feel uncomfortable right after eating them. They cause bloating and water retention.
4. Cut Back on Salt Intake
The average Australian eats almost double the amount of salt they need for proper overall health. Experts advise that Australians shouldn’t eat over 5 grams (2,000 mg) of salt a day to avoid a chronic illness. Trying to consume less than that is perfectly normal.
A healthy adult needs about 1g to 2g of salt a day for the system to function. But, when you add too much salt with every meal, the body ends up holding onto the fluids you consume. You might not even notice it, but the excess salt is making you feel bloated. It is also increasing your blood pressure and increases the risk for heart and kidney disease.
Heavy salt intake can also affect children. In fact, about three-quarters of Australian children are eating more sodium than the recommended amount. This is making them develop unhealthy eating habits and possible blood pressure fluctuations.
Overall, children need less sodium than adults, and their recommended intake varies based on age. The recommended salt intake for children is as follows:
- 1 to 3 years: 200 mg to 400 mg a day
- 4 to 8 years: 300 mg to 600 mg a day
- 9 to 13 years: 400 mg to 800 mg a day
- 14 to 18 years: 460 mg to 920 mg a day
The ideal way to manage salt intake is to follow a healthy diet. Meals packed with fruits, veggies, minerals, and vitamins.
5. Massage the Abdomen
Abdominal massages are a great way of getting the bowels to move. It stimulates digestion and relaxes the intestines. Based on a controlled study, abdominal massage used on patients with postoperative constipation significantly decreased the symptoms of constipation, reduced the intervals between defecation, and boosted their quality of life.
All of these effects can be highly beneficial for the large intestine. Here is how an abdominal massage looks like. To learn how to do it, check out the step-by-step guide below.
- Step 1: Place the hands over the left hip bone.
- Step 2: Rub in a circular motion. Use only light pressure as you move the hands toward the left rib cage.
- Step 3: Keep rubbing as you move across with the hands towards the upper belly area, all the way to the right rib cage.
- Step 4: Massage down towards the right hip bone.
- Step 5: Repeat until you get the desired result.
6. Opt For A Diet Change
Many healthy diets can help with bloating and fluid retention. But, two options stand out from the rest. With a correct distribution of calories and avoiding food overload, people can ease the bloating. Considering the positive impact on the digestive system, the FODMAP diet seems like a practical choice.
Based on reports, FODMAP is a much better choice than a standard diet for controlling IBS. It can have a profound impact on bloating without causing additional digestive problems. High-FODMAP choices include broccoli, wheat, artichokes, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, pears, and more.
Another option is a properly balanced Mediterranean diet. This diet guarantees an adequate supply of fibres, proteins, and carbohydrates on a daily basis. Plus, it can prevent a FODMAP overload by dividing the food into five meals. That’s what makes it the go-to choice for those looking for a long-term bloating management strategy. Both diets can have a positive impact on quality of life.
7. Manage the Constipation
Constipation worsens the bloating. Initial management of constipation includes increasing the fluid and fibre intake and doing more physical activity. But, when the constipation is chronic and causes discomfort, that’s where laxatives can come in handy.
The simplest way to ease constipation is to do physical activity and increase the water intake. Both of these options have proved effective.
8. Use Essential Oils
The antispasmodic impact of drugs can greatly reduce gastrointestinal bloating and cramping. But, the currently available synthetic products can cause a range of different side effects. That’s why experts are suggesting a more natural approach.
According to a 2019 study, 39 aromatic plants in essential oils have demonstrated a therapeutic value in gastrointestinal symptoms. Even though their formula can’t be nearly as effective as over-the-counter medicine, it could improve the bloating in a natural way. That’s why it may be a good idea to try them.
9. Do Yoga or Other Relaxing Techniques
Long-term stress triggers gastrointestinal issues-particularly indigestion, diarrhoea, and constipation. The longer the stress remains unmanaged, the bigger the odds for irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems. While short-term stress can make you lose your appetite and experience slow digestion.
As a result, stress management becomes a key bloating control strategy. When you focus on your stress, you also pay attention to your physical and emotional health. Decreasing it can reduce gut inflammation, ease gastrointestinal distress, and keep the system nourished.
In the long run, it can prove useful for bloating, digestion, and constipation. Now, what most people don't realize is that managing stress can be achieved with even the simplest things—like, taking a warm bubble bath after a long day at work—or soaking your feet in warm water to ease the discomfort and tiredness. Whatever calms you down is something you should implement. Yoga can have a significant stress reduction effect.
10. Consider Some Medical Conditions
It is not uncommon for the bloating to be the result of a medical issue. If you've tried all the options you could think of; then you might need to get a diagnosis. In cases such as these, it is best to consult with a doctor.
Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, are known for causing bloating. Ovarian cysts in women and endometriosis can lead to stomach swelling, pain, and discomfort in the abdominal area. Those who experience problems such as these can get a blood test, ultrasound, X-ray, or colonoscopy to find the underlying health problem. But, only a doctor can suggest these approaches.
Many people are regularly feeling bloated. But, just because it is a familiar problem, it doesn’t mean there are no options to fix it. As you can see, there are plenty of natural options that can help. For example, from the food you eat to the triggers you unintentionally expose the body, these can all play a key factor in bloating.
If you know what’s causing it, you will have an easier time reducing the symptoms. Massaging the abdomen could prove useful. As well as practising relaxation techniques. All the tips listed here can help you figure out the best bloating reduction technique.
Even though, in most cases, the bloating is manageable and harmless, sometimes it could cause pain and discomfort. That's when people rely on over-the-counter medicine. However, when that bloating turns into serious pain and debilitating discomfort, that's when you need to consult with a doctor.
The abdominal swelling could be a sign of gastrointestinal disease. To rule out the potential for heart problems, ask the doctor for suitable medicine. This can help with the bloated belly. Now that you know how to deal with the problem, you will have an easier time managing the discomfort.
Have you tried any of the options listed here? Did they work for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!