You don’t eat processed foods or fatty foods. You don’t drink soda or smoke. You’ve tried cutting out dairy products and gluten. But nothing seems to change your frequently bloated belly. Unfortunately, diagnosing the reason behind your swollen stomach isn’t easy — there are virtually hundreds of factors which can contribute to bloating, many of which aren’t even related to your diet at all.
1. You have a desk job.
Sitting all day long and bloating go hand in hand — the less active you are, the slower your GI tract moves. If you think that sitting for long stretches at a time might be contributing to your bloated belly, try scheduling short breaks to stand up, walk around, or stretch. If you can, invest in a treadmill desk.
2. You eat too fast.
Mom was right when she scolded you for wolfing down your food. Sure, you might be in a hurry, but eating too quickly can cause you to swallow excess air, triggering a ballooning stomach. But that’s not the only problem with scarfing down your food. When you don’t take the time to chew your food properly, you end up with larger chunks of food in your gut, which means more work for your digestive system.
3. Stress. (Of course.)
It seems like stress is behind every ailment known to man — and bloating is no different. The effects of stress are two-fold. For one, stress might actually deprive your GI tract of the blood it needs to fuel digestion. And secondly, stress can fuel bloat-inducing behaviors, like smoking cigarettes, chewing gum, or sipping on soda — all of which fill your stomach with air.
4. You skip meals.
When nothing is being pushed through your gut, it becomes inactive. The result? You may be likely to experience bloating when you do eat. Eating small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day is your best bet to avoid the bloat.
5. Your hormones.
Estrogen dominance has been linked to bloating, and hormonal contraceptives are often to blame. According to some researchers and doctors, the pill can wreak havoc on your gut health. For many women, the signs are subtle. But they may include symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome, including frequent bloating, gas, and constipation.
6. You’re dehydrated.
You might be drinking your eight glasses per day, but that doesn’t mean your totally hydrated. If you’ve got a soft spot for coffee, tea, or soda, you may be sabotaging your water reserves. Other common culprits include spending too much time in air conditioned spaces or taking antihistamines. Remember, your bowels need a lot of water to keep things flowing.
7. You’re depressed.
Low serotonin levels, a hallmark of depression, have been linked to constipation and bloating. Unfortunately, if you’re taking antidepressants, bloating is a common side effect. If possible, opt for talk therapy before medication. Physical activity can also help lift your mood — and target a bloated stomach.