What is bloating?
Bloating is when your stomach feels bigger or fuller than normal. It can sometimes be accompanied by discomfort, flatulence, or rumbling. This is something that every one of us has experienced at some point.
It is very common to experience bloating, and usually nothing to be concerned about. However, a largely bloated abdomen should not be recurrent after every meal, and we advise seeking the care of a healthcare professional if you experience frequent, uncomfortable bloating, or if it is impacting your quality of life.
What causes bloating?
Dysbiosis is the term used to describe a balance of the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut microbiome. If the gut microbiome is unbalanced, we may not be able to efficiently digest food, leaving it to ferment and produce gas, leading to bloating.
Those with food intolerances or sensitives find it difficult to digest certain foods. This can lead to IBS-like symptoms such as abdominal cramping and pain, bloating and toilet urgency. Some of the more well-known intolerances/sensitivities are dairy (lactose), gluten, cruciferous vegetables, nightshades and alliums.
Bloating is also a common symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Relief from bloating can come once you start bleeding or shortly after. If bloating is persistent, it may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Eating too quickly can also increase the amount of air we swallow. This leads to a build of gas in the stomach, causing bloating.
Conditions such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease and peptic ulcers can cause symptoms like bloating.
How to reduce bloating
Make time for your meals. Eating mindfully and slowly helps to slow down chewing and slowing, reducing the amount of air consumed.
Psyllium husk can help ease bowel movements and regularity without producing further gas, and slippery elm can support the body’s inflammatory processes which can help soothe digestion.
Digestive enzymes or including bitter foods before, during or after each meal. Bitter foods and digestive enzymes help to increase stomach acidity and improve digestion
Peppermint is an antispasmodic, which helps to soothe cramps and spasms by relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract. It can help to aid efficient digestion, reducing gas production.
Identify your trigger foods. Understanding the foods that commonly cause your bloating can help you make mindful choices about your meals.
Probiotics can help improve the balance of “good” bacteria in our gut. This balance can ensure that our gut is functioning efficiently which can help reduce gas production.
Light exercise can help to improve digestion after a meal by helping move food through the digestive tract. Walking after eating has been shown to help manage healthy blood sugar levels as well as reduce gas and bloating.