Surprising Things That Cause Bloating

Woman holding her stomach in discomfort.

Do you ever feel bloated without a clear reason why? Sometimes unexpected triggers can be the cause of bloating.

What is Bloating?

Bloating is the uncomfortable feeling that your stomach is swollen or expanded, and often occurs soon after eating. 1 In addition to feeling unpleasant, bloating can also make your stomach protrude and look larger than usual. 2 Most of the time, bloating is caused by an excess of gas, solids, or liquid in your digestive system, which puts pressure on your abdomen and causes that “stuffed” feeling. However, sometimes people with increased sensitivity will also experience the feeling of bloating even when there is not an excess of solids, liquid, or gas in their system. This may be secondary to inflammation from food sensitivities. 3 4 

Bloating is a common issue that affects people of all ages. In fact,16-30% of people report that they experience it on a regular basis. 5 6 7 

Surprising Causes of Bloating

While the source of bloating is often easy to determine, such as overeating or making food choices that disagree with you, there are also a number of surprising things that can cause this reaction in some people. If you experience bloating on a regular basis but are not sure why, one of these may be the culprit. 

Chewing Gum

You probably would not expect chewing gum to cause bloating–after all, when you chew gum you are not putting any solid food into your digestive system. However, chewing gum for a sustained amount of time can cause you to swallow an increased amount of air, which can cause your belly to bloat. It is also common to swallow an excess of air if you are eating while talking or eating very quickly. 

Food Allergies

If you find yourself feeling bloated regularly after eating the same types of foods, you may be experiencing a food allergy or sensitivity. Common allergies that can cause a bloated feeling include lactose, fructose, eggs, wheat, and gluten. 8 9 10 Try keeping a food log of what you eat and noting down anytime that you feel bloated, then see if there is a pattern.

Not Enough Fiber or Water

Sometimes the cause of bloating is constipation, which is often the result of a lack of soluble fiber in your diet or not enough water. 11 Increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet and ensuring that you are drinking plenty of water can help to promote more regular bowel movements, and ease bloat. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include beans, oats, avocado, flax seeds, and broccoli. 

That being said, adding a large amount of fiber to your diet suddenly can also cause you to feel bloated, so you should slowly increase the fiber in your diet in increments, to avoid this.

If you experience bloating regularly and are unsure of what is triggering it, there are a number of potential causes, including those outlined above as well as Crohn’s disease,IBD, IBS, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Speak to a naturopathic doctor to help determine what is triggering your discomfort and come up with a plan to address the problem.

For conditions that cause chronic bloating, you may want to choose a naturopathic doctor who is also a registered member of the Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (GastroANP) and specifically focuses on stomach health.


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