Stuffed? Crampy? Gassy? Here Are 8 Ways To Beat Women’s Bloating.
We all experienced bloating at specific points in our lives.
Whether it’s because of stress, overeating, or having one too many cups of coffee for our good, the feeling of being extra “puffy” around the midsection isn’t fun.
Unfortunately, women seem to suffer more from bloating than men because of how the female digestive system is designed.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.
In fact, with the right strategies and healthy habits, you can potentially minimize your risk of bloating.
But before we dive into the best ways to prevent bloating, let’s take a look inside the female digestive system and why women are more prone to this condition than men.
Top Reasons Why Women Suffer From Bloating
A Mayo Clinic study shows that women are 14 hours slower than men in emptying their stomachs. The longer food sits in your stomach, the more gas it produces due to fermentation.
- Chronic constipation is more common in women and tends to worsen in age, leading to severe bloating.
In an interview for The Atlantic, Dr. Robynne Chutnik explains that the women’s colon is on average 10cm longer than men’s.
This extra length allows women to absorb more water and fluid during pregnancy.
This also means that while a man’s colon is shaped like a horseshoe, a woman looks like a “tangled-up Slinky” -- making digestion difficult.
- During menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, hormonal fluctuations cause abdominal muscles to relax. Weak abdominal muscles mean that food doesn’t move along the gut efficiently.
You can also blame bloating on:
- Eating too fast
- Eating too late
- Fatty foods
- Chewing gum
- Foods that cause gas in the intestinal tract such as beans and high fiber foods
- Drinking lots of soda
- Consuming a high-starch/high-sodium diet
- Taking medications like stool softeners, aspirin, antacids, and fiber supplements
- Underlying health conditions including IBD, liver disease, or kidney problems
Of course, seeking the care of a certified GI professional is extremely important, especially if you find yourself bloated for a long time or the feeling gets worse.
They can help you diagnose any underlying condition behind your bloating.
You can try the following tips to avoid bloating right away for mild cases.
8 Bloat-Busters To Try
Load Up On Anti-Bloating Foods
Avocado - This fruit is high in potassium and soluble fiber, which are great debloating agents.
Banana - This tropical fruit helps prevent water retention by regulating sodium levels in the body.
Papaya - This fruit contains papain -- a compound that makes digestion easier by breaking down proteins in your digestive system.
Asparagus - This anti-bloating superfood is a rich source of prebiotics which encourages the growth of good bacteria.
Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries - These berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber to help promote gut health.
Celery and Fennel - These potent diuretics help expel excess liquid, which causes bloating.
Ginger - This spice can help stimulate the body’s digestive enzymes so you can digest food more efficiently. It also contains a digestive enzyme called zingibain, which helps break down protein.
Fermented foods (Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Kefir) - These food items contain strains of friendly bacteria that help reduce gut inflammation and upset stomach.
Spinach - This leafy green is high in magnesium -- a nutrient that reduces fluid retention.
Pineapple - This tropical fruit contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokines that damage the gut lining. This enzyme is also famous for healing the tissues within the gastrointestinal tract.
Artichokes - This fibrous vegetable prevents fermentation in the gut by pushing foods along the digestive tract.
Try A Low FODMAP Diet
FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.”
The goal is to lower your intake of fermentable, gas-producing food ingredients so you can reduce your chances of getting bloated.
That term is a mouthful so let’s break it down to make things simpler:
Oligosaccharides are compounds found in wheat, onion, garlic, legumes, and beans.
Disaccharides are found in milk, yogurt, and ice cream.
Monosaccharides include fructose (a sugar found in fruits and honey), apples, and pears.
Polyols or sugar alcohols are abundant in apricots, plums, cauliflower, chewing gums, and candies.
Experts say that people who are sensitive to FODMAP-rich food don’t always absorb these carbohydrates.
Instead, these foods go down to the colon, ferment, and produce gas.
Always keep a food diary at hand so you can track your diet and determine which FODMAP-rich foods are responsible for your bloating.
Once you pin down the items responsible for your bloating, then you can start re-introducing other types of foods without worrying about your gut health.
You may also base your diet around low FODMAP foods, including:
- Eggs and lean meat
- Almond milk
- Rice, quinoa, and oats
- Vegetables like zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant
- Fruits such as grapes, berries, and oranges
Check out the IBS Diets website for their complete list of FODMAP foods.
Skip Soda And Try Water Instead
Carbonated drinks contain gas that can cause bubbling and bloat in the stomach. Drinks that you may consider sugar-free can also cause bloating because they contain artificial sweeteners.
If you’re tired of drinking plain water, you can infuse yours with lemon, mint, or even ginger for a refreshing drink.
Not only do they help relieve bloating, but they have powerful antioxidants, too!
Increase Your Fiber… But Slowly
While fiber can help push food along your digestive tract, eating too much or too frequently can cause bloating.
So stay on the safe side by maintaining your fiber intake of 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males.
But if you’re just starting, the recommendation is to start slowly by increasing your intake over several weeks so your body can adjust to your new eating habit.
Break A Sweat
Low-impact physical exercises, including a long walk, a brisk jog, or a bike ride, help expel gas and encourage activity in the digestive system.
One example is from a German study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases.
The researchers wanted to know which one is more beneficial to digestion after a large meal: drinking espresso or walking.
They found out that walking helped move food through the stomach more quickly. And since the stomach empties faster, gas moves quickly into the small intestine.
Exercise may also strengthen your abdominal muscles so you can move gas much faster through your intestines.
Try Relaxation Techniques
With the way things work these days, it’s easy to get stressed for even the most minor reasons, which in turn can put your gut at risk.
This is terrible news.
Because instead of focusing on its vital functions, your body puts all its resources to win against stressors in all shapes or forms.
Plus, when you’re stressed, your body tends to overcompensate by staying up late, not eating on time, drinking too much, or not moving enough.
So go ahead and let off some steam by trying yoga or meditation.
Both practices will help stimulate your abdominal organs, work your core muscles, and increase oxygen circulation to your gut.
These relaxation techniques also allow you to be mindful of your eating habits and dietary choices.
Take Peppermint Oil Capsules
Peppermint oil helps relieve bloating by calming the muscles of your stomach. By doing so, bile flows smoothly so food can pass through the stomach quickly.
You can buy peppermint oil capsules from your local pharmacy.
Consider Magnesium Supplements
Like Peppermint Oil, Magnesium supplements relax your GI tract and make you go.
If your bloating stems from constipation, talk to your doctor about using magnesium supplements. You can take it before bedtime with a large glass of water.
You may also increase your magnesium by eating leafy green vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, tamarind, kale, pumpkin seeds, and okra.
The cause of bloating among women can come in many types -- whether it’s naturally or habit-based.
The good news is that mild cases of bloating do go away on their own, provided that you follow specific health and dietary habits.
These eight bloat-busters will not only make you feel better but can also improve your overall health if you follow them every day.