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Hot Flash: Bloating – What is the Cause?

Some days I wake up feeling much thinner than the day before. My stomach is a little flatter, and I can fit nicely into my skinny clothes. But some days, I feel like I’m lugging around an extra 20 pounds. And it looks like it!! I reach for the loosest-fitting clothing I can find on those days.

What really causes bloating? How do you get rid of it? I turned to my trusted source, WebMD, for answers. Here’s what they had to say:

Salt

Your body needs this, but most of us get more than we need. It makes you hold on to – or retain – water and can cause more serious health problems like high blood pressure. And it’s not just the saltshaker you should avoid: If you’re like many Americans, most of your salt comes from prepackaged and fast foods. Check food labels for salt (sodium) levels and remember: Just because you don’t taste it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Too Many Carbs

Carbohydrates give your body fuel it can use quickly. But too many at once can make you retain water. And the faster the carbs get into your blood, the more likely that is. Simple carbs –  white bread, candy, pastries, and soft drinks –  enter your blood almost instantly. Complex carbs – whole grains, fruits, and vegetables –  don’t because they take longer to digest.

 

Soda

Those bubbles in soda and other drinks like beer, champagne, or seltzer are filled with gas. When you drink them, they can fill up your digestive system. You may burp some of it away, but once the gas reaches your intestines, it stays until you pass it. And most sodas are full of sugar, which can make you hold on to water and feel bloated. My preference has always been sparkling water. That eliminates a lot of choices. Sht!

 

You Eat Too Fast

The faster you eat, the more air you swallow. And like with bubbly drinks, once that air passes to your intestine, it can make you feel bloated. It can take 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’re full, so you can eat (or overeat) enough to make yourself bloated and uncomfortable before your brain gets the message. My major problem. I usually allow myself 15-20 minutes to eat, and by the time I eat, I end up eating ‘way too much. Damn.

 

Dairy

Foods like milk and ice cream can cause gas, belly pain, and bloating if your body can’t easily digest a dairy sugar called lactose. It’s not usually serious, but it’s a good idea to avoid milk products. Some medicines can help you digest it more easily. This is not the same as an allergy to dairy, where your body’s immune system treats it like a dangerous invader. That can be more serious, causing hives, vomiting, and bloody stools. I so bummed. Dairy is my favorite food group.

 

Fat

Your body needs it to make cell walls, nerve tissue (like your brain), and hormones. But too much can make you bloated because your body takes longer to break it down than other types of food. That means it sticks around longer. It’s also high in calories and can make you gain weight if you’re not careful – and that can make you feel bloated, too

 

Weight Gain

If you’ve gained 10 or more pounds in the past year, you may feel bloated because that weight often goes on around your belly. That takes up space and leaves less room for your stomach to stretch. Talk with your doctor about a plan to help you lose that weight and be more comfortable. I turn 50, and wham! I gain 20 pounds. All in my tummy.

 

Celiac Disease

This is when your body responds to gluten – a protein in wheat, barley, rye, and many prepackaged foods – by attacking the lining of your intestine (part of your digestive system). It can cause diarrhea, weight loss, pain in the belly area, and lots of gas, which can make you feel bloated. There’s no cure, but you can manage your symptoms if you stay away from foods that have gluten. I don’t have this, but maybe I’ll use it as an excuse…

 

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