Fourth of July celebrations are all about having a good time with friends and family by enjoying scrumptious meals.

However, if you’re not careful of what you eat this Independence Day, you might end up suffering from acidity, bloating, flatulence and gas and spend the next week in distress. Bloating, in particular, can be very annoying and could also be a sign of a major underlying health issue if it’s severe and recurrent.

What Causes Bloating?
Though an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract is the main cause, bloating can be triggered by a number of reasons such as heartburn, swallowing air because of eating too quickly and too much, and presence of intestinal parasites. Having a lot of sugar-free drinks containing sorbitol and fructose can also cause it.

Bloating can result in swelling in the abdomen (known as distended abdomen), making you feel full and uncomfortable. The symptoms can be:

  • A feeling of fullness or tightness of the abdomen
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Flatulence (excessive gas)
  • Belching (frequent burping)
  • Abdominal rumbling

Beat The Bloat
If you suffer from bloating quite often, particularly after having a heavy meal or eating outside, try these simple tips for relief.

  • Restrict your intake of carbonated drinks.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Avoid talking while eating, as it makes you swallow more air than normal.
  • Drink a glass of water every hour. Water neutralizes excess stomach acids and prevents a bloated feeling.
  • Probiotics such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut are rich in good bacteria that aid digestion and boost immunity. They correct the imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut and reduce gas. Eat a cup of probiotic foods twice a day to prevent bloating.
  • Avoid chewing gum as you may swallow extra air while chewing it. Xylitol, mannitol or sorbitol present in chewing gums can also enhance gas production.
  • Having too much salty food can also cause water retention, which can lead to bloating. Use low-sodium salt for cooking.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw as far as possible, as you will swallow air along with the drink.
  • If you are sensitive to milk, choose lactose-free dairy products.
  • Stress can cause hormonal imbalances. High levels of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline can overwhelm your digestive system, causing bloating and flatulence. Try some breathing exercises and aromatherapy to de-stress.
  • Avoid foods that cause gas such as lentils, dried beans and vegetables from the cabbage family.

If the bloating still persists and is accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, acute acidity/ heartburn, sudden unexplained weight loss, tarry looking stools and blood in the stools, consult a doctor.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

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