Bloating – uncomfortable, full, swollen or tummy distended? Sounds like you have the dreaded ‘bloat’.
Millions of people suffer from bloating, and for most, it is a case of a hectic lifestyle and the wrong diet. For some, it could be for other underlying reasons, but this article concentrates on how to relieve that horrible feeling that your tummy is about to burst like a balloon.
What is bloating, and what causes it?
The most common cause of bloating is when the GI (gastrointestinal) tract becomes full of gas, or even just simple air. There are other causes, such as:
- Incorrect eating habits, i.e. consistently eating the wrong foods
- Eating or drinking (or both) too fast (a common problem)
- Chewing gum or other foodstuffs that make you inhale too much air.
- Ill-fitting dentures – can create an inefficient chewing process which creates more gas or ‘aerophagia’, i.e. swallowing too much air as you eat.
If you swallow too much air or create too much gas, this has to be expelled from the body, and this is usually in the form of burping or passing wind, or both. All of the above can often restrict your desire to go to work or take part in social activities, due to potential embarrassment and/or discomfort.
There may be other medical causes of course, including food sensitivity or food intolerance. This is where Check My Body Health can help get to the bottom of the reasons for your bloating, or at the very least rule out potential issues. We provide an exceptionally comprehensive test to check for food sensitivities here, which may ascertain fairly quickly if this is a main cause of your complaint.
There are quite a variety of medical causes for bloating, and if you are concerned, or the bloating begins to affect your life, you should contact your medical practitioner.
Foods to avoid that can trigger bloating
More people than ever before suffer with food intolerances or sensitivities in todays’ world. With food intolerances, a selection of foods that contain either poorly digestible or non-digestible compounds will trigger bloating quite quickly, so it will always be best to avoid these types of foods. The following are just a small example of food groups that can set you off.
- Sugar alcohols and sugar such as fructose
- Fibre – both soluble and insoluble
- Certain vegetables, normally excellent for health, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower – all the good greens surprisingly
- Fruits such as apples and pears (probably another surprise for you)
- Whole grains such as wheat and oats
- Legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Fizzy or carbonated drinks and sodas
- Certain dairy products containing lactose
These are some potential causes, you may have some of them, or more than one food group, but not everyone will find this the cause of bloating or increased gas or flatulence. Taking a test will certainly identify food intolerances, but before you contemplate any major dietary changes, please do consult with your doctor.
Practical steps to take to ease bloating
Changing your diet and the way that you actually eat and drink, could provide some alleviation of your bloating symptoms.
Try the following tips:
- Eat slowly to help digest your food, and keep portions small
- Cut down on salt as this causes water retention and feelings of bloat
- High level of fats can cause gas to be created – best to avoid fast foods, greasy foods and other fatty additions to your diet
- Try not to drink fizzy sweet drinks or even fizzy water, keep chocolate and other sweet items to a minimum
There are various other tips that may help you, but not everyone has success – we are all different. Research shows that elements of a diet such as probiotics (increases the amount of the right bacteria in your gut), peppermint oil (used for many generations to soothe digestive problems), can potentially help in terms of dietary aids.
We know that everyone has heard of ‘taking light exercise’ as a cure all for most things, but movement such as reasonably fast walking or cycling can help expel gas from your stomach. It will also contribute to not putting on weight, which can be another cause factor of bloating. Excess weight gain is not a good way to go in most cases of keeping healthy.
The same as ‘getting a good nights’ sleep’ – always finish your eating a couple of hours before bedtime. A heavy stomach will and can cause many problems, including excess gas, heartburn etc.
Foods to eat to help prevent bloating
You don’t need to worry that you will be too restricted on what you can eat. Here is a list of helpful foods that could ease any bloating symptoms.
Herbs and Spices – ginger, turmeric and green tea
Fermented foods and drinks, such as kombucha, probiotic (live) yoghurt
Fruits such as avocados, berries, bananas, kiwi, papayas, pineapple, rhubarb.
Vegetables – asparagus, celery, fennel
Gluten free grains such as quinoa (gluten can also potentially cause bloating)
This is just a small comprehensive list, there are other fruits, vegetables, drinks etc. that may work for you. Like most stomach-related complaints, it’s wise to keep a food diary to ascertain what does and doesn’t work for you, and what your triggers appear to be. With the help of a comprehensive intolerance test, and some restrictions on diet, hopefully the bloating will diminish or disappear out of your life.
Written by Bev Walton, BSc Nutritional Science
I achieved a First-Class Honours degree in BSc Nutritional Science, Nutrition Sciences from the University of Reading and now have over 35 years experience in all types of cuisine, dietary plans, recipe development, health and nutrition. I have been writing for over 10 years for magazines and websites as well as ghostwriting for ebooks, Kindle and fully published books. I’m also a proud member of the Guild of Food writers.