How to Avoid Hidden Causes of Bloating

Three Parts:Avoiding Foods that Cause BloatingAddressing Other Factors that Can Cause BloatingManaging Symptoms of Bloating

Bloating is a natural occurrence when air becomes trapped in your stomach or intestinal track. Occasional bloating is normal and to be expected. This is especially true if you eat high fiber, gas-producing foods like beans, lentils, broccoli or cabbage.[1] However, if you feel like you're continuously bloated, gassy or belch often, you may have a hidden cause of bloating. There are different foods, beverages and lifestyle behaviors that can cause bloating without you even realizing it. Try to avoid some of these hidden causes of bloating to help relieve and alleviate your symptoms.

Part 1
Avoiding Foods that Cause Bloating

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    Avoid carbonated beverages. Many people use carbonated drinks, especially ginger-flavored sodas, to help relieve bloating or general stomach upset. However, these bubbly drinks should be avoided to help minimize bloating.[2]
    • Carbonated beverages are made by forcing carbon dioxide into different drinks. This is the source of gas and air that you end up swallowing and consuming as you drink sodas and other bubbly beverages.
    • This air travels from your stomach down into your intestines which is the reason why these drinks can cause bloating.
    • Avoid all drinks like: sodas, beer, sparkling wine, sparkling water, fermented teas and juices and seltzer water.
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    Limit dairy products. One food group in particular that may cause bloating and gas is the dairy food group. This can be hard to pinpoint as the cause of your bloating symptoms doesn't always occur immediately after consuming these foods.[3]
    • One cause of bloating and gas is when sugars (like the lactose found in dairy products) aren't well digested and ferment in your colon. This causes your colon to fill with air which causes bloating and gas.
    • All dairy products, especially milk and yogurt, have high amounts of lactose. If you eat dairy products regularly, you might want to consider minimizing these or avoiding them. If you notice the amount of bloating decreases or goes away completely, dairy foods might be the root cause.
    • In place of dairy foods, you can use non-dairy alternatives like: soy or almond milk, vegan cheeses, soy or coconut based yogurts or even coconut ice cream.
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    Skip the gum. Chewing gum is another way that excess air can get into your GI track and cause bloating. On top of that, sugar-free gum which contains artificial sweeteners may also be causing your symptoms.[4]
    • Whenever you chew gum (sugar-free or regular), you swallow small amounts of air. This can either cause you to burp or becomes trapped in your intestinal track causing bloating.
    • In addition, sugar-free gum and other sugar-free mints and candies can cause bloating. Some people are sensitive to artificial sweeteners since these are not digested well in the GI track.
    • If you chew gum, skip the artificial sweeteners. Or, just suck on a regular mint without artificial sweeteners.
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    Avoid processed foods. Another cause of bloating you may not be aware of is sodium. You may feel like you're retaining water with higher amounts of sodium, but this can also cause bloating.[5]
    • When you eat a lot of processed foods that are high in sodium, it's natural for your body to retain some water. This is especially true for women.
    • In addition, many processed foods are higher in fat. High fat meals delay the emptying of your stomach which can make you feel uncomfortably full and bloated for long periods of time.[6]
    • Avoid high fat, high sodium processed foods like: frozen meals, canned meals and soups, fast foods, fried foods, pizzas and processed meats.
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    Consider limiting wheat or gluten-containing foods. One lesser known cause of bloating is gluten and wheat-based foods. This isn't a common or overly likely cause of bloating. However, those who are sensitive to gluten or wheat will experience bloating when eating these foods.
    • Similar to dairy foods, wheat-based foods and those that contain gluten leave little amounts of undigested carbohydrates in your GI system. These ferment causing excess gas and air to become trapped which causes the sensation of being bloated.[7]
    • Wheat-based foods also contain gluten. These include: breads, pasta, English muffins, wraps, breakfast pastries and cereals.
    • Gluten is found in many foods outside of wheat-based foods. It can be found in soy sauce, salad dressings, beers, sauces and marinades and candies.
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    Limit your portion sizes and chew slowly. You may not think that how you eat also effects your symptoms. Large portions of foods and eating very fast are also hidden causes of bloating.[8]
    • When you eat really fast, you're not chewing thoroughly. This causes you to swallow large pieces of foods rapidly. In the process, you also swallow large quantities of air which can get trapped in the stomach or intestines.
    • Take your time when you're eating and make sure to chew thoroughly. You may want to try to count 20 times before you swallow a bite of food.
    • Your stomach can hold about 6 cups of food. If you eat very large portions, it takes an excessively long time for your stomach to digest this food. This leads to an uncomfortable bloating and pressure in your stomach.

Part 2
Addressing Other Factors that Can Cause Bloating

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    Manage stress. Outside of foods, there are other hidden factors that can cause bloating. If you are overly stressed or anxious, these emotions can cause symptoms of bloating if not managed.
    • Studies have shown that those people with a psychiatric history experience bloating regardless of dietary changes. In addition, these same studies show that bloating, stress, anxiety and depression frequently present together.[9]
    • Health professionals are unsure of the exact cause or mechanism behind increased stress or anxiety. However, if you feel you're experiencing stress or are anxious, try to manage these issues to help alleviate symptoms of bloating.
    • Engage in relaxing and self-soothing behaviors like: meditating, exercising, talking to a friend, listening to music or knitting.
    • If you cannot manage your stress or anxiety alone, consider seeking behavioral therapy for extra help.
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    Stop smoking. Smoking is a behavior that has been linked to a host of negative health effects. However, it's also been linked as a cause of bloating. If you smoke currently, quit to help relieve your bloating.[10]
    • Part of the reason that cigarette smoking can lead to bloating is that you're inhaling air. You may end up swallowing some of this air as well which can get trapped and make you feel bloated.
    • Stop smoking immediately. Smoking is not only related to excess bloating, but also to a variety of other health conditions.
    • Try to quit cold turkey if you can. However, if that's too difficult consider seeing your physician for assistance or join a smoking cessation program.
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    Maintain proper oral health if you wear dentures. If you have dentures, you may be surprised to find out that these can cause excess bloating. To relieve bloating, consider checking to see if your dentures are fitted correctly.[11]
    • Ill-fitting dentures are typically loose. This makes it more difficult to eat and causes you to swallow excess air. Again, this air can become trapped in your GI track and cause bloating.
    • If dentures are not properly cleaned or properly secured in your mouth, the same result can happen as well.
    • If you don't think your dentures are correct or are not fitting properly, consider going to see your dentist to get them checked over.
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    Sit up during and after a meal. It might be tempting to lay on the couch after dinner. However, if you are in a reclined position after eating, this can lead to bloating and indigestion.[12]
    • Your body is designed to process and digest foods sitting upright. It has an exceptionally difficult time digesting foods if you're laying down or in a reclined position (as in a recliner chair).
    • Stay upright for at least an hour after eating a meal. If it's a dinner meal, it's typically suggested to wait at least 2-3 hours before laying down to go to bed.
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    Be mindful of dietary supplements. A very sneaky cause of bloating could be the vitamin or mineral supplements you're taking. Some can cause bloating and stomach upset.[13]
    • Calcium carbonate is a type of supplement you make take to maintain strong bone health. However, this is hard to digest and can cause bloating. Instead, take a supplement that uses calcium citrate instead.
    • Another supplement that may be causing some bloating is omega-3 supplements from fish oil. Many women typically experience this and can lessen this effect if the supplement is kept in the refrigerator.

Part 3
Managing Symptoms of Bloating

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    Track your symptoms with a food and lifestyle journal. If you experience bloating on a regular basis, you may want to consider tracking your symptoms. There are so many sources and causes of bloating, a journal could help you narrow it down.
    • The best option is probably a note pad app on your smart phone or actually using a paper journal.
    • Track your symptoms and write down when they started, how long they lasted and the intensity.
    • Include the foods you've eaten, supplements you've taken, drinks you've consumed or if you were overly stressed.
    • After a few days, review your journal to see if you can pinpoint a trend. Then try to make changes to see if you notice any improvements.
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    Consider talking to your doctor. If you are experiencing bloating and you're unsure of the cause, it's also a good idea to talk to your doctor. Although bloating is a normal side effect of some things, it could signal something else.
    • Make an appointment to talk to your physician about your bloating. Make sure to tell them how long this has been going on and what home remedies you've tried.
    • If you have it, bring along your journal. Even if you can't pinpoint a trend or cause, your doctor may be able to.
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    Engage in regular exercise. Engaging in regular physical activity is a great way to relieve bloating. It can help prevent bloating but also help alleviate it when you're already experiencing symptoms.[14]
    • A study showed that those people who participated in at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 days per week, showed significant improvement in regards to bloating.
    • In addition, health professionals note that if you do light to moderate intensity exercise right after you eat, this activity can help your GI system pass air through your intestines smoothly.
    • Try to stay active over the whole week to decrease issues with bloating. Also, plan in a short walk or bike ride after meals to help reduce bloating.
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    Try taking over-the-counter medications. If lifestyle remedies or dietary changes aren't making much of a difference, you may want to consider taking some over-the-counter medications. These can also help relieve gas and bloating.
    • If you find that dairy foods trigger your symptoms, you can take a lactase supplement. This helps your stomach and GI system digest lactose better and reduce side effects.
    • Simethicone is a common anti-gas drug. There are many brands that are available over-the-counter. Regardless of which you choose, this drug can help relieve gas and bloating within 30 minutes.
    • Always talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications. He or she will be able to tell you if they're appropriate or not for you.


  • Bloating can be very irritating and if you are unsure of the cause, it can be hard to manage. Track your symptoms in a journal to help you determine the root cause.
  • If you cannot manage your symptoms well with diet and lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor about other options.
  • The best way to avoid bloating is through a well balanced diet, exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle.

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Categories: Diet & Lifestyle