So Bloated

We are well into win­ter and the lure of eat­ing mor­eish, fill­ing foods is strong. But your stom­ach is feel­ing more stuffed than your thick win­ter socks in de­signer boots. We’ve got your de­bloat­ing solution

Women's Health (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY HAN­NAH EBELTHITE

Beat the bulge and ban­ish that heavy feel­ing

There’s a cer­tain feel­ing that, de­spite hav­ing a rich and var­ied vo­cab­u­lary at your dis­posal, is best ar­tic­u­lated as “meh”. You have zero spare cash, your skin’s drier than Jimmy Carr’s wit and, de­spite stay­ing true to your work­out sched­ule since 2 Jan­u­ary, your mid­dle looks like you’ve swal­lowed a bal­loon. Win­ter can get stuffed. At least take com­fort from the fact that we’re all in this to­gether. While there’s no ev­i­dence to sug­gest the drop in tem­per­a­ture is to blame for your rounder mid­dle, re­search does show that you’re in­clined to con­sume more kilojoules when it gets cold. A study pub­lished in the Euro­pean Jour­nal Of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion found that par­tic­i­pants ate 359 more kilojoules per day in au­tumn than they did in spring – and chose foods that were higher in fat. Start in au­tumn, throw in fes­tive in­dul­gence (them choco­late Easter eggs) and you’re bound to be feel­ing the ef­fects round about now. Plus, the foods you reach for are likely to be those of the stodgy, com­fort­ing kind – you know, the ones the hu­man body isn’t that keen on di­gest­ing. Back in the day, there was a need to store fat dur­ing the colder months when food was scarce. Now, you can or­der grub to your bed in the deep­est depths of win­ter. UN­DER PRES­SURE

So, along with po­ten­tially car­ry­ing a few more ki­los, you’re fit to burst, which is eas­ier to fix. “Bloat­ing is a symp­tom, rather than a di­ag­no­sis in it­self, so there is no med­i­cal def­i­ni­tion as such,” ex­plains Peter Whor­well, pro­fes­sor of medicine and gas­troen­terol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Manch­ester in the UK. “From my ex­pe­ri­ence of treat­ing pa­tients who re­port feel­ing bloated, the best way I can de­scribe it is a feel­ing of pres­sure in the ab­domen. Some peo­ple will re­port dis­com­fort, oth­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence dis­ten­sion of the stom­ach.” First things first, if you al­ways feel bloated af­ter a mas­sive meal, you might just be (whis­per it) full. Fun fact: the av­er­age adult stom­ach can ex­pand by up to four times its size and if your belly still looks larger than nor­mal a few hours af­ter eat­ing, it does come with the ter­ri­tory. “What most peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence when they talk about bloat­ing is a re­ac­tion to a food or an is­sue with di­ges­tion,” ex­plains nutritionist Amanda Hamil­ton, co-au­thor of The G Plan Diet: The Revo­lu­tion­ary Diet For Gut-Healthy Weight Loss. “Most of the food you eat is ab­sorbed in the small in­tes­tine, but the re­mains – di­etary fi­bre and some car­bo­hy­drates – move into the large in­tes­tine, where your gut bac­te­ria feed on and fer­ment it, re­leas­ing gases that can pass out of the body as wind or build up and lead to bloat­ing. What you eat in­flu­ences the amount of gas you will pro­duce, as well as your gut mi­cro­biome com­po­si­tion.” Ah yes, that bloody mi­cro­biome. The mi­crobes in your gut have an aw­ful lot of sway for a bunch of bac­te­ria, in­flu­enc­ing every­thing from your im­mune sys­tem to your brain health and – oh, hi – bloat­ing. “If your body is over­re­act­ing and food is fer­ment­ing too much, it’s a likely sign of an im­bal­ance in your mi­cro­biome,” says Tim Spec­tor, pro­fes­sor of ge­netic epi­demi­ol­ogy and au­thor of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Be­hind What We Eat. While you can in­flu­ence your mi­cro­biome by tak­ing pro­bi­otics, your body is a com­plex net­work of in­ter­ac­tions, with every­thing from your hor­mones to your stress lev­els mak­ing their mark.


If you’ve un­but­toned your jeans or, er, made some gas emis­sions in the time it’s taken to read this far (no judge­ment here), it could be down to what you’re eat­ing. Cer­tain foods, such as onions and gar­lic, as well as bras­sica veg – that’s the likes of sprouts, broc­coli and cab­bage – pro­duce more gas. Your own tol­er­ance of par­tic­u­lar foods can change through­out the month too. “Cer­tain foods might cause you to bloat now, but they will ul­ti­mately im­prove the bal­ance of your gut bac­te­ria in the fu­ture, so they won’t al­ways make you feel this way,” says Hamil­ton. In short: there’s no one-siz­e­fits-all rule when it comes to what makes you bloat. Soz. But that means it’s even more im­por­tant not to exclude any food groups or food with high nu­tri­tional value from your diet on a long-term ba­sis. “We can all do with­out sug­ary, fatty and pro­cessed foods,” adds Hamil­ton. “But fruit and veg­eta­bles, beans and pulses and whole grains are so good for you and fi­bre is an essen­tial part of your diet. The key is not to overdo it and prep well. Re­duce the gas-pro­duc­ing prop­er­ties of dried beans and pulses by soaking them for a cou­ple of hours then rins­ing be­fore cook­ing. Start small and grad­u­ally in­cor­po­rate them into meals. And try dif­fer­ent types, as you may tol­er­ate some bet­ter than oth­ers.” Still suffering? Munch­ing on the move, chew­ing while you chat and din­ing can all leave you bloated. Not be­ing fo­cused on the task at hand means you’re more likely to swal­low air, which can build up in the gut. And if

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