Bloating is generally caused by gases produced whenever we eat or drink, for some it can cause a visibly swollen stomach, pain or discomfort. Normally, gas is produced in the colon and moves smoothly through the body prior to being emitted or absorbed. Sometimes, the gas doesn’t have a smooth transition and this is where issues are found. If the gas gets trapped in either the small or large intestine it can cause the discomfort associated with bloating.
There can also be a number of medical reasons why bloating is affecting you, such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease or lactose intolerance. If bloating is affecting your life, it’s advisable to get it checked out by a medical professional. The best practitioner to see would be your accredited practicing Dietician (APD), who specialise in allergies, intolerances and digestive issues.
However, there are a number of things you can do to prevent bloating, or to minimise the discomfort.
- Ensure you are having a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables at every meal. This will ensure you are getting plenty of fibre which is associated with improved digestion. Some fruits and vegetables may actually cause gas and bloating-be careful of onions, cabbage, broccoli, beans, sprouts and cauliflower.
- Limit the amount of processed, high fat, and high sugar foods. These types of food have less fibre and nutrients as well as lead to poor digestion. Salt is a culprit in fluid retention and too much will cause you to feel bloated, be aware of how much salty food such as chips, sauces, processed and takeaway foods.
- Cut our caffeine, or reduce the amount you consume. Try to replace caffeine in beverages with herbal teas or water.
- Go for a walk, the movement and simple exercise can help to pass the gas through your digestive system and ease the discomfort of a bloated belly.
- Relax and reduce stress. This may seem like a silly one, by stress negatively affects digestion by disrupting the muscular contractions that control digestion. Try yoga, meditation, breathing and reducing the cause of your stress.
- Try eating some probiotics: these can be in the form of yoghurt, probiotic supplements, and fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi. Probiotics contain the good bacteria needed in our gut to maintain good digestive flora. They assist us in digesting and absorbing food, and are vital for optimal health. Your bloating and discomfort may be assisted by a boost of these little bacteria friends!
- Try a herbal remedy like Iberogast from Flordis: this combination of 9 herbs does wonders for a bloated belly, and I can personally recommend it! Get it from your local health food shop, pharmacy or naturopath.
- Drink a herbal tea like ginger or dandelion. Both teas aid in digestion through saliva, bile and other digestive fluid production. Ginger also has a role in relaxing muscles and can assist in passing trapped gas, as well as relieving intestinal cramps. Dandelion tea is a natural diuretic, so it aids in passing gas and fluid through the digestive system. You can either find dandelion tea at your local health food store, or try growing it yourself!
- Pay attention to how you feel after eating sensitive foods such as wheat/gluten and dairy products, if you are feeling bloated after consuming these types of foods it might be a good idea to reduce them or eliminate them. In this instance I suggest seeing your GP or booking an appointment with a Nutritionist/Dietician.
- Be present and mindful when eating, only eat when you are actually hungry, and be sensible with your portion sizes. Your bloated belly could simply be the result of a big, heavy meal and you may just need to eat smaller portions. Also chewing your food properly and being mindful of how fast you are eating can assist you in preventing bloating in the future.