Let’s face it, we all have one annoying relative fresh in our mind from Chinese New Year. Even if you don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, I’m sure we have that one auntie who’s flexing their kid’s career, marriage, or university. If that annoying auntie was an illness, they would be bloating. You’re hoping not to encounter them, though you probably will.
While you can’t avoid your auntie forever, you can avoid bloating.
What Constitutes Bloating?
Bloating can cause your stomach to feel tight, gassy or even rumble. You could feel nauseous and may need to belch or burp. You could even have diarrhoea, sometimes with blood.
What Causes Bloating?
TCM believes that our digestive system converts food into Qi and Blood, which are the most vital substances in life. The spleen and stomach are the body's main digestive organs – when there is an imbalance of qi in these organs, it’ll result in bloating. Good digestion, therefore, ensures good health. Here are the reasons that can make your qi stagnant in your digestive system:
We love food but your stomach might not like to deal with your fifth prata. When you overeat, your stomach expands and pushes against other organs, making you feel bloated.
Eating too fast may also contribute to bloat as you swallow excess air.
2. Food Intolerance
Another cause is food intolerance. Food intolerance can cause gas, so if you find yourself always feeling bloated, maybe it’s time to relook your diet.
How long have you been looking at Facebook while waiting to dump? If you feel bloated – chances are it’s constipation. The inability to pass stools can also keep you from passing air and gas, contributing to bloating.
4. Water Retention
As with constipation, not drinking enough water can cause bloating, which causes your body to retain water.
5. Swallowing Too Much Air
“Jiak Hong” – which translates to “eat air” and no we don’t mean your VTL holiday to Malaysia. Aerophagia happens when you swallow so much air that it makes your stomach bloated. This may be a sign of other illnesses in your digestive system or psychological illnesses like anxiety.
6. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks, especially those with sugar or artificial sweeteners can increase gas in the digestive system.
7. Taking Certain Medications
Oh, the irony. You solve one problem and get another. There is a range of medicines and supplements that can cause bloating. If you suspect one medicine is causing it, take it up with your GP.
All that said, some medical conditions do cause bloat, namely:
a) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
b) Celiac Disease
c) Inflammatory Bowel Disease
e) Gynaecological Conditions
f) Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Solutions for Bloating
Okay, great. You know what causes your bloat. So how do we stop it? Here are some solutions:
1. Drink Water
While it seems counterintuitive, staying hydrated while bloated is key to feeling better. Drinking enough water can prevent constipation, water retention and even overeating.
2. Eat Slowly
Steady, no one is going to steal your food. Eating fast makes you more susceptible to bloating so it’s best to sit back and slowly eat and enjoy your food.
3. Incorporate Foods That Help With Bloating
Avocados, bananas, and edamame. No, it’s not a slimming smoothie recipe, but these foods can slim your chances of bloat. Potassium-rich foods contain minerals and electrolytes, which help to flush out sodium and reduce bloating.
4. Taking Probiotics
Don’t just trust your gut, keep it healthy. You can do these with probiotics like yoghurt or miso or supplements or ask your doctor about supplements.
5. Take It Easy With Sodium
“Don’t be salty.” No, seriously. Choosing the right food is as important as eating at the right pace. Too much salt can cause water retention, so check your food labels. Cooking at home? Great! Be sure to use low salt ingredients.
6. Get Active
Want to prevent bloat? Then head out for at least 20 minutes of quality exercise daily. Running and cycling are great but if Singapore’s weather is stopping you, try zoom yoga or HIIT.
7. Massage Your Tummy
While it may seem strange, massaging your tummy can help move the stool along your colon, reducing bloat. Try massaging the Tian Shu acupoint. To find it, place your index finger beside your belly button. The acupoint will be right beside your fourth finger and you can press on it or massage it in circular motions.