Nutritionist, author and TV health expert Amanda Hamilton reveals her top tips for easing discomfort
Bloating tends to refer to intestinal gas. While this is a perfectly natural part of the digestive process, sometimes too much gas is produced which can make abdominal distension or swelling a more chronic issue.
But, bloating can be an underlying symptom of more chronic issues, such as coeliac disease or conditions related to the ovaries. So it’s worth going through medical channels if diet or lifestyle changes don’t work. To start with, though, see if you can identify with any of the following symptoms or patterns.
Overeating can be a cause of bloating, so pay attention to portion sizes. When it comes to troublesome foods and drinks, the list is long. Fizzy drinks cause air bubbles to form and expand in your abdomen and chewing gum can cause a build-up of gas. Foods such as beans, onions and brassica-family vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are also well known for the fart factor. Excess salt will also trigger water retention, and you’ll get a double whammy from salty bread where the gluten can be hard to digest. Try replacing wheat-based foods with rye or oat alternatives and
you may see an improvement.
How you eat is also a factor. At the very start of the digestive process we can swallow a lot of air, particularly if you are eating on the run. So try to sit down
and take your time over food. A build-up of gas can also be caused by certain anxiety states and is increased when eating is accompanied by lots of talking and laughing. Although laughing can actually help digestion after you’ve eaten as you are in a relaxed state, which enhances your digestive abilities. So don’t curtail your fun completely!
The activity of bacteria in the gut should also be considered. The human gut, particularly the large intestine (colon), is host to vast numbers of bacteria. Some can be potentially harmful – the ‘pathogenic’ or bad bacteria. But some are beneficial to our health and these are the good guys – so-called friendly bacteria.
Any imbalance or overgrowth of yeast, such as candida, can leave you more prone to bloating or IBS-like symptoms. Try keeping a food diary to see if there are any foods that seem to cause symptoms, looking at water intake alongside. Then begin a programme of removing common trigger foods.You could also try taking probiotics – both those that occur in foods such as natural yoghurt and keffir and those in supplement form. And if you’ve been on antibiotics they are
a must. For bloating, start with a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement designed for adults or see a nutritionist for advice.