Major Causes of Stomach Bloating

by Lisa Breitenwischer

May 18, 2024

Major Causes of Stomach Bloating

Bloating is a common and uncomfortable symptom that many describe as feeling tight, full, and gassy in the abdomen. 50% who experience bloating claim that it’s accompanied by a distended belly. There’s plenty of tips on the internet on “How to Decrease Bloating”, from acupressure massage to the worst, antacids. The tips are to ease one’s discomfort but it’s only temporary and doesn’t get to the root of the issue. In fact, long-term reliance on antacids can impair the stomach’s natural functions, affecting nutrient absorption.

Some Major Causes of Stomach Bloating

Burping and bloating after meals can be attributed to three major causes:
Poor digestion, irregular bowel movements or hormones.

Indigestion is often caused by abnormal stomach acid secretion. Eating excessively salty, oily, or sweet foods can lead to an overproduction of stomach acid. Additionally, anxiety and tension can also disrupt the balance of stomach acid secretion. Excess stomach acid can result in inflammation and ulcers in the duodenum. On the other hand, too little stomach acid can cause inflammation and ulcers in the stomach.

Digestive contents can build up in your digestive system when there is a backup or restriction in your digestive tract or when the muscles that move digestive contents along are somehow impaired. Backed-up poop in your colon causes recently-digested food to stay longer in the intestines, waiting to descend. Everything expands to contain the extra volume, leading to bloat.

Bloating can also be associated with hormonal changes. For example, 75% of women complain of bloating before and during their period. Bloating is also a common complaint during the hormone fluctuations of perimenopause. Female hormones deserve a special mention when it comes to stomach bloating because they can affect bloating from many angles — fluids, gas, digestive back-up — and also your sensitivity to those things. First, estrogen causes water retention. When estrogen spikes and progesterone drops, you’ll notice bloating from fluids. Hormones also interact with your digestive system. Estrogen and progesterone can each cause intestinal gas by either slowing or speeding your motility.

Healing the Digestive Tract to Eliminate Bloat

Start reducing consumption of these gas-inducing foods:

  • High starch foods: Such as pasta, potatoes, white bread and white rice
  • Beans
  • Dairy products: like milk, cheese
  • Carbonated drinks: Soda, sparkling water or wine, beer
  • Fried Foods: These foods are difficult to digest
  • Sweets: Cakes, desserts, sugar
  • Raw foods: Lettuce or raw fish or meat
  • Spicy Foods

It is worth mentioning that while some people experience bloating after eating these foods, others don’t. I recommend to keep a food journal and observe which foods cause bloating for you personally and avoid overeating them in the future.

Additional Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Practice mindful eating: put phone or computer aside when eating.
  • Chew your food slowly- each bite 25x
  • Drink water after the meal instead of during
  • Taking a walk after a meal can help promote digestion
  • Avoid food 3 hours before bedtime.

A bloated stomach is not a pleasant feeling. While it’s a common experience and usually temporary, you may become weary of the cycle. Spending a little focused attention on the problem to identify the cause can be well worthwhile. Try recording your symptoms and possible triggers in a journal. Note diet, hormonal and stress factors. The different factors that contribute to bloating can be complex and difficult to define, but medical testing can help. When in doubt bring your notes to a specialist for professional guidance.

Note: If your bloated stomach doesn’t go away or gets worse, or if you have other symptoms of serious illness, such as fever or vomiting, you should seek medical attention to rule out other medical causes.

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