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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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10 Easy Ways to Banish Bloat

10 Easy Ways to Banish Bloat

Belly bloat happens for many reasons—overeating, gulping air, eating too fast. Here are 10 ways to avoid belly bloat and discomfort.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

We've all been there.

It might have been in years past, when you were premenstrual. (Remember? Water retention taken to a new level.)

Or now, when you eat too much.

Or drink too much.

Or maybe when you don't eat enough.

Or sleep enough.

Or, in other words, just about any time.

Bloating happens for so many reasons, and those reasons vary from person to person.

According to the University of Utah, about 50 percent of the gas in your digestive system is swallowed air; the remainder produced during the digestive process.

And that swallowed air, if not "passed" via burping or flatulence, hangs around, usually in the abdominal region, making its presence known while making your middle area feel uncomfortably larger than life.

Sometimes you feel bloated after an especially big meal. But it doesn't take just eating a lot to feel that—although overeating is usually the most common cause of bloating. (That's why it's usually better to eat smaller portions, which can keep bloating at bay.)

Other ways to beat the bloat:

1. Slow down. Eat too fast, and your risk of bloating increases. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send the "full" signal to your brain. And since overeating is a bloating risk, slowing down will help lower that likelihood.

2. Limit fats. Because fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbs, too much rich and fatty food can contribute to bloating, since these keep your stomach full for a longer period of time.

3. Avoid swallowing air. When your abdomen is filled with gas, bloat follows. There are a few things you can limit to help reduce this likelihood, like:

  • Drinking through a straw
  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Chewing gum
  • Sucking on hard candy

4. Limit stress. Granted, this is good advice for just about anything and anybody; but it applies to bloat, too. That's because there's a tendency, when you're stressed or anxious, to take shorter breaths and as a result, swallow more air.
Remember to breathe.

5. Get moving. Exercise, says the University of Utah, can help keep your digestive system running efficiently, hence reducing the likelihood of gas buildup. A Swedish study found that moderate exercise (like biking for 30 minutes) helped reduce bloating in people with irritable bowel syndrome.

6. Toss the butts. Another reason to quit: Smoking causes bloating—and heartburn and other digestive issues, too.

7. Avoid (or limit) artificial sweeteners. Many of these, like sorbitol, are tough to digest and cause gas or bloating. And fructose, although a natural sugar, when added to many processed foods can be difficult for some people to digest.

8. Beware of dairy. For some who are lactose intolerant and have trouble digesting lactose (a milk sugar), dairy products can cause intestinal upset and bloating.

9. Watch your whole grains. Yes, they're healthy, but they're high in fiber, which can be problematic for some, resulting in gas, bloating and even constipation. The best thing to do is go slowly: Add them to your diet a little at a time, and make sure you drink plenty of water with high-fiber foods, which helps to keep them moving through your digestive system.

10. Consider a probiotic. Sometimes bloating is due to an imbalance of bacteria in your intestines, and probiotics can help balance it all out. A review from Northwestern University found that the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium infantis is the only strain of probiotic to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating.

More Reading:
Belly Bloat? It Could Be Something More Serious
When You Just Can't Go: Constipation 101

Learn tips on how to Beat Belly Fat from fitness expert Joan Pagano here.

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