A bloated stomach can leave you feeling sluggish, puffy, uncomfortable and in some cases, in a great deal of pain.
There are a number of reasons why bloating may occur and fortunately most of the time it can be easily prevented by taking a few simple steps to curb certain habits.
See below for some of the most common causes for bloating and how to tackle them.
1) Eating too quickly
If you eat food whilst rushing around or standing up, you are bound to be swallowing too much air, which is terrible for bloating. Gobbling down your food will also cause digestive problems as it sensitises the gut – making you less tolerant of the foods you eat. Aim to sit down for each meal, watch your mouthfuls and relax for 20 minutes after eating to let your food digest.
2) Gassy foods
Wind (flatulence) is perfectly natural, but for some people it can be excessive and very uncomfortable. Eating a lot of gassy, fibrous foods such as beans and pulses, apples, cabbage, broccoli and foods containing the sugar substitute, sorbitol, are common culprits of a bloated, windy stomach because they are digested slowly. If wind is a problem for you, aim to cut back on these foods and your bloating should subside.
For women, bloating is common around the ‘time of the month’. Just before a period, levels of the hormone progesterone are raised which slows down gut movement. This means food passes more slowly through the body leading to bloating and possibly constipation.
Affecting around one in five people in the UK, IBS is very common condition, but also very complex. The exact causes are unknown but it is thought emotional upset and stress are linked, as well as certain types of food that the body cannot digest properly. Many people with IBS are lactose intolerant (allergic to the sugar found in milk), and this in itself is a significant cause of bloating and abdominal pain. A nutritionist is often a good port of call for people who have IBS symptoms, as they can help identify specific problem foods to avoid and foods that can help alleviate symptoms.