Beat the bloat

Liz Con­nor finds out what might be caus­ing your stom­ach woes

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

SUF­FER­ING with mid­day belly bulge? Not only is it re­ally un­com­fort­able, it’s em­bar­rass­ing too. Here, we un­cover the most com­mon rea­sons why you might be bloated, and what you can do to com­bat it. 1. You’ve got too much gut bac­te­ria When it comes to gut flora, it can be dif­fi­cult to strike the per­fect bal­ance. Your friendly bac­te­ria should be thriv­ing, but not so much that they over­pop­u­late and abun­dantly grow in the small in­tes­tine.

“Too much bac­te­ria in the small bowel means that ev­ery­thing you eat is go­ing to pro­duce gas — and that’s go­ing to make you feel bloated,” says Dr An­thony Hob­son, who spe­cialises in gut medicine.

When your bac­te­ria fer­ment car­bo­hy­drates, they pro­duce gas — and the more bac­te­ria, the big­ger the bloat. “If you think your gut is out of sync, you can have a sim­ple breath test to look for bac­te­rial over­growth,” says Dr Hob­son. A GP can then ad­vise you on the best di­etary changes to keep your mi­cro­biome in check, or even pre­scribe a round of an­tibi­otics if nec­es­sary. 2. You’ve got a sen­si­tive gut Ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome is a com­mon con­di­tion of the di­ges­tive sys­tem that can cause bloat­ing along­side cramps, di­ar­rhoea and con­sti­pa­tion. It af­fects up to one in five peo­ple at some point in their life, and it usu­ally first de­vel­ops when a per­son is be­tween 20 and 30 years of age.

“There are cer­tain trig­ger foods that are worse than oth­ers,” says Hob­son. “Onions and gar­lic are com­mon, which is why the low-FODMAP diet is so pop­u­lar now. Keep a food di­ary and track any meals that cause no­tice­able changes to your stom­ach.” 3. Too much wine and other sug­ary drinks “Wine con­tains fruc­tose which is quite dif­fi­cult to di­gest in quan­ti­ties of more than 25g,” says Hob­son, who notes that the same is true of sug­ary soft drinks. “Even if you opt for pros­ecco in­stead, which is quite low in sugar, the bub­bles may still play havoc with your tummy, trig­ger­ing IBS symp­toms such as cramps and bloat­ing.” 4. Eat­ing large por­tions and not chew­ing your food prop­erly “It’s im­por­tant to eat smaller por­tions of cer­tain foods, chew food well and eat slowly,” says Hob­son. Also, do core ex­er­cises with yoga breath­ing to help strengthen your di­aphrag­matic and ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles.” 5. PMS and hor­mones Along with aches, cramps and mood swings, an­other un­de­sir­able ef­fect of get­ting your monthly pe­riod is the in­evitable bloat­ing that comes along with it, A sur­vey by Care Agnus Cas­tus PMS Re­lief Cap­sules found that half of women suf­fer with bloat­ing be­cause of pre­men­strual syn­drome.

Regis­tered nutri­tion­ist Dora Walsh ex­plains: “Many of my clients think that they have a food al­lergy due to reg­u­lar bloat­ing. In fact, it’s of­ten due to the high lev­els of pro­ges­terone, which be­gin to rise as soon as ovu­la­tion oc­curs. This causes changes in the body such as wa­ter re­ten­tion and in­creased blood flow to the uterus. Your di­ges­tive sys­tem can also be­come more slug­gish, lead­ing to con­sti­pa­tion.”

Walsh rec­om­mends that you drink lots of wa­ter to help flush the sys­tem, and avoid highly pro­cessed or salty foods that could make it worse.

SORE STOM­ACH: Feel­ing bloated can be due to ex­cess gut bac­te­ria, too much wine, or PMS.

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