Nocturnal abdominal swelling: what it is and what it depends on

Nocturnal abdominal swelling: what it is and what it depends on

Abdominal swelling: what is it?

Bloating, simplifying the concept, consists of having air trapped in the gastrointestinal system. The gastrointestinal system can be described as a long muscular tube with many valves and sphincters along its tract that keep foods moving in the right direction. Sometimes, getting too much air in – swallowing food or liquids quickly or consuming carbonated drinks – can get trapped between these valves and sphincters and cause bloating , which can manifest as abdominal distension , pain , pressure and heartburn .

Sometimes the bloating is not caused by the air you inhale, but rather by the gases produced by the stomach during the digestive process , or by an imbalance of bacteria nourished by certain foods and sugars which generate bacterial proliferation , causing the formation of intestinal gas . Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce symptoms and fight gas and bloating at night.


What causes abdominal bloating?

The most common causes of abdominal bloating are:


  • the ingestion of air
  • having eaten too much
  • intake of foods with a high fiber content (such as vegetables and legumes )
  • constipation
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • celiac disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • the proliferation of bacteria in the small intestine
  • weight gain
  • some medicines containing lactulose or sorbitol

Causes of nocturnal abdominal swelling

Late evening dinner

After eating, the body needs time to digest. It can take a few hours for food to be cleared from the gastrointestinal tract. Eating dinner late in the evening, too close to bedtime, can cause indigestion , as stomach acid can seep into the esophagus and cause heartburn. Since foods are digested while you sleep, inactivity in your body can delay digestion. This can increase gas produced during digestion and cause nighttime or morning bloating.

Remedies. Make sure that the optimal time passes between dinner and sleep – at least two to three hours – so that the digestive process is completed . Sitting upright after a meal for at least two hours before bedtime can help reduce abdominal distention . Include some physical movement throughout the day. Exercise can improve symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome to speed digestion .

Too big dinner

If you eat your most important meal of the day in the evening hours, you risk ingesting more calories overall, which could potentially lead to weight issues and bloating. Eating a large meal in the evening disrupts the natural function of the circadian rhythm and slows down the ability of our intestines to move food and waste inside. When this happens, it is quite common to feel bloated.

Remedies. Do not skip meals during the day, to avoid consuming large and hyper-substantial portions at dinner. Having a snack in the late afternoon allows you to better control the size of the portions of the dinner and not to arrive at the evening meal feeling excessively ravenous.

To counteract abdominal swelling these are the most suitable foods .

Consumption of raw vegetables

While raw vegetables can be very healthy and packed with nutrients , they take longer and are harder to digest than other foods. Eating raw vegetables for dinner, such as a simple salad, can cause bloating in the lower small intestine, which is usually the most painful area if you have excessive gas.

Remedies. Do not consume raw vegetables in the afternoon and evening or cook them, even lightly blanching them without boiling them, so that they cause less swelling at the end of the day.

Excessive consumption of liquids with meals

Drinking plenty of fluids while eating, especially if the food is particularly salty, can cause abdominal distension. The stomach can only hold a precise amount of food and liquids, and liquids can fill it up quickly, which can delay digestion or simply cause you to feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, if these liquids are characterized by carbonation, such as beer or soda, they exacerbate the phenomenon of air in the stomach , causing rapid abdominal swelling.

Remedies.  Reduce fluids at dinner, drink enough throughout the day, and avoid fizzy drinks at the end of the day.

Imbalance of the microbiome

The human microbiome (more commonly called intestinal flora ) is the set of   symbiotic microorganisms , or bacteria, which coexist with the human organism without damaging it. Some foods we eat, including processed meats , red meat , dairy products and sweets, can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the microbiome, causing bloating.

Remedies. Adding fermented foods, such as kimchi, miso and sauerkraut , can help balance the microbiome. If fermented foods are not part of your eating habits and tastes , a postbiotic, a fermented ingredient made from plant materials, can contribute to the balance of the intestinal bacterial flora .



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