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Reasons Your Stomach is "Puffing Out Too Much"

Here’s what’s causing that belly bloat.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Frustrated with constant stomach bloat? You're not alone—according to the Cleveland Clinic, occasional abdominal bloating affects between 10% and 25% of otherwise healthy people, with up to 75% describing their symptoms as moderate to severe. Here are five very common reasons that your stomach is puffing out. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Constipation

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Constipation is not only uncomfortable, it can also make your stomach bloated. "Everything is at a standstill," says Beth Czerwony, RD. "Poop is just sitting there, fermenting, and making its presence known." The solution? Make sure you're eating fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.

2

Gut Bacteria

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An imbalance of healthy bacteria in the gut is a common cause of belly bloating, experts say. "This is what I refer to as a 'food baby,' which is what happens when you eat foods that cause your stomach to bloat shortly after you eat them," says Dr. Mark Hyman. "Your diet should consist of proteins—eggs, chicken, meat, fish—and vegetables that are crunchy and/or green, such as kale, broccoli, celery and cauliflower. In other words, foods that feed the good bugs."

3

IBS

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"Certain gut dysfunctions such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) can be the cause of chronic gas and bloating," says Will Cole, MD. "In a normal functioning gut, when you are not eating (during the night and in between meals), the migrating motor complex (MMC) pushes gut bacteria down into the large intestines, where most of it lives. However, sometimes this process can fail. In cases of decreased MMC function, bacteria meant to migrate grows up into the small intestines where it doesn't belong. This wayward bacteria will eat what you eat, fermenting the food in the wrong area, causing gas, swelling, and SIBO. And when SIBO goes untreated for too long, it can lead to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)."

4

Too Much Salt

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A high-salt diet can lead to abdominal bloating, with processed foods, restaurant foods and convenience foods being especially high in sodium. "If you cut down on these, you should see a difference with less bloating," says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, who also calls out pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts, canned soups, bread rolls and bagels as the "salty six" sources of hidden sodium in the American diet.

5

Your Menstrual Cycle

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"Women tend to struggle with bloating more than men," says Dr. Cole. "This can be due to the hormonal fluctuations that happen throughout a woman's cycle. For example, women who struggle with premenstrual syndrome, also referred to as PMS, can contribute to increased water retention which fuels bloating. This is most likely due to the fact that estrogen is responsible for fluid retention and when estrogen surges in the case of menopause, PMS, or chronic hormone imbalances, bloating is more likely to occur."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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