Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough
Special to the Village News
Bloating doesn't just occur on Thanksgiving, rather, it can happen to any of us at any time. For one in ten Americans, feeling bloated is a regular occurrence. Bloating isn't limited to just eating a large meal. The discomfort is usually related to what you have eaten.
The three causes of bloating are as follows:
1. Eating too much fat
3. Eating fatty foods
Eating slowly is the key. Meals should take at least 20 minutes to consume. No matter how much is served, eating smaller portions is advisable. Fat takes the longest of all types of food to digest. Therefore, it stays in the stomach much longer.
Another major culprit of bloating is when you have gas. This occurs when you swallow and take in additional air. This can even happen from chewing gum. Common tricks to help this include drinking through a straw and not gulping down carbonated beverages. The stomach also contains bacteria that helps digest food, but this same bacteria can also build up gas in the intestines.
There are definitely foods that tend to bloat people. The starches and sugars in cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, apricots, prunes, and carrots, are all major bloat causing players.
The lactose in dairy can cause bloating for some people. The sugars in beans and lentils called oligosaccharides are hard to break down and cause bloating. Sweeteners also are foreign to the body and can be hard to break down. These include sorbitol and fructose.
Whole grains also are another type of bloat causing food because of the fiber they contain. Smoking is actually a cause of bloating because it causes intestinal problems.
We all have experienced bloating, and most of the time this common occurrence is nothing to worry about. Fortunately, there are over-the-counter medications to help alleviate this stomach problem. These medications can come in liquid form or pill form, which contain alpha-D-galactosidase. This is a type of enzyme that breaks down indigestible sugars in beans and vegetables. Other medications contain simethicone, which can help reduce gas, as well.
For most people, it boils down to eating slowly, not eating too much, and not eating a high-fat meal. These are all great suggestions for your waistline, too. If bloating is constant, consulting your doctor is important. There could be a physical obstruction in your digestive tract, or the muscles of the tract are not working correctly. When the muscles don't function as they should, gas can build up.
No one likes to feel uncomfortable, unattractive, and just full when it comes to being bloated. Remember when this occurs, think of the triggers, and avoid those situations in the future to avoid feeling like you need to excuse yourself from the room.
Megan Johnson McCullough, EdD, recently earned her doctorate in physical education and health science, is a professional natural bodybuilder and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine master trainer.