Why I am bloated?
Are you one of the women who prefer to wear a loose dress or jumper again, just to cover your bloated, swollen belly? Has your wardrobe changed from pencil skirts to tent-shaped baggy trousers? Are you afraid your colleagues at work may start asking you when you are due, and you really do not feel like answering those type of questions?
So many women struggle with bloating, you're certainly not alone. I remember very well when any new dress I'd bought had to come with an option to wear it loose, when my tight-fitting cardigans changed into baggy, tent-shaped jumpers, and my fashion sense went from elegant to ‘sporty’.
Here are the 10 most common reasons why you are suffering from bloating. Everyone will be different but you may find tht more than one scenario applies to you:
1. Bad eating habits - Often you will get bloated if you are eating too fast or gulp water, especially fizzy, while you eat, or you lack the enzymes to digest particular foods. For example, many western people lack the lactase enzyme that is needed to digest the lactose found in milk products, which will inevitably lead to bloating.
2. Not enough fibre - Fibre in fruit, vegetables, pulses, beans and grains helps to move the food down the digestion tract and keep us regular. If the food is not moving fast enough for you, it will start fermenting in the gut, leaving you uncomfortable, gassy and bloated.
3. Coeliac disease - This disease doesn't get diagnosed in many people for many years, which may mean that any gluten consumed damages your gut lining further and you're unable to digest foods in general. It's estimated that 1% of the western population is suffering from coeliac disease. Please speak to your doctor if you are concerned.
4. You are moving too little – A sedentary lifestyle slows down the peristaltic function of your gut, leaving you not only bloated but tired. Get up and move whenever you can. Walk to work, get out at lunch time, set yourself a reminder to move that beautiful body of yours.
5. Gastrointestinal dysbiosis – If you've had courses of antibiotics or eat poor quality food, then your opportunistic and bad bacteria might be in greater numbers than the good guys. Find a nutrition professional to work with who can help you tip the balance to the benefit of the good guys.
6. Stress - This plays a much greater role in your digestion than you can imagine. Your body needs time to rest and digest food, so if you're always on the go, including pushing yourself too hard at exercise, then your body will be under strain and digestion will not be a priority.
7. SIBO - Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth happens when your good bacteria hang around in the wrong place - your small intestine. This can be tested for and there are ways to reduce this so that they hang around where they are supposed to – your large intestine.
8. Leaky gut – Alcohol, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugar and many other stimulants will irritate your gut to the point that the tight junctions holding your intestinal cells together start to slightly go apart and let the molecules of food pass into your blood stream.This not only makes your gut vulnerable, but puts you at risk of developing an autoimmune disease in future.
9. Parasites - These little friends are more common than you think, and you do not need to go abroad and drink from a well to be able to catch some. A stool test is a fantastic way of figuring out what hangs around in your large intestine and what state it's generally in.
10. Irritable bowel syndrome - IBS is a common, long-term condition that interferes with the functionality of the bowel. It is estimated to affect almost one in five people in the UK at some stage in their lifetime. Symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort, a change in bowel habits and bloating. If you are experiencing symptoms or are concerned, it is important visit your GP before making any dietary changes.
A nutrition professional can help you to work through your symptoms, and help identify a possible cause of your digestive problems. Try not to buy another baggy dress, because you'll want to go back to your waisted pencil skirt soon, once you have figured out how to help your belly feel better!
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About Aira Mahandru
Aira Mahandru is a registered nutritional therapist, health coach and a functional medicine practitioner, specialising in working with women. She works with clients in a clinic in London and offers online consultations for those living further afield.