Do you find that your stomach is often bloated and you’re not sure why? It’s not uncommon.
“We see patients in our clinics who have been living with bloating as a part of daily life because they’re unsure what’s causing it”, says Dr Kim Glass, Lead GP at Bupa Health Clinics.
There are multiple triggers for bloating. In the most extreme cases, it can be sign of underlying bowel or ovarian disease and sometimes even ovarian cancer – although that’s rare – but the most common causes are excess gas production and disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system.
Below, Dr Kim Glass offers her top tips on how to reduce bloating and get back to a pain-free lifestyle.
Remember that If your bloating is constant, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out anything serious.
Cut it out
Persistent bloating could be the sign of an intolerance to foods such as wheat, gluten or lactose. Try to cut out one food group at a time to see if your stomach starts to feel better.
If you are prone to persistent bloating, certain fatty foods and sugary drinks can make it worse, as they produce excess gas so it’s best to avoid these. It’s also important to limit the amount of processed foods such as ready meals, as these may contain ‘resistant starch’ that’s difficult for your body to digest.
Foods containing oats and a daily tablespoon of linseeds are helpful in easing recurring bloating, as they regulate your digestion.
Keep a food diary
Tracking what you eat is a great way to understand and pinpoint what your body is trying to tell you. Record food groups that you think are triggering a symptom such as bloating, discomfort, diarrhoea or constipation. The key to solving your bloating problem long term is to document your body’s reaction to the foods you are consuming.
The more information you note down the better and will help your GP or dietician when deciding on the next steps. It could be a long process, but be persistent.
Bupa has a food diary that you can download to use when keeping track of what you’re eating and how your body is responding. This food diary is free to anyone to use and you can check it out here.
Green tea is a proven remedy to help with painful bloating. It is a natural diuretic which can alleviate gas building up in your intestinal tract. There are many other benefits to drinking green tea including better sleep, improved heart health and brain function.
Start off by having a cup a day and closely watch how your body reacts. Time will tell if this method helps prevent and ease your bloating.
Watch your portions
Overeating can contribute to bloating. If you recognise this as a common pattern have a look at your portion sizes while still getting the daily recommendation of calories and nutrition. Eating smaller amounts more regularly could quickly ease some of your discomfort if you’re prone to constant bloating.
Supplements could help
If being more vigilant about what you’re eating and the way you’re eating it isn’t helping as much as you’d like, there are some supplements that could help your body break down tricky-to-digest components. These digestive enzyme supplements can relieve the pain – but ask your GP to recommend the best plan for you.
Likewise, if you’re already eating regular amounts of fibre – proven to help with digestion and prevent constipation – ask your GP about magnesium tablets. These can aid in getting things moving and relieve constipation-related bloating.
Probiotic supplements are also an option as they help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut. This helps reduce the symptoms of gas and bloating.
Get a once over
If you have tried cutting out foods and the problem persists, it is best you visit your GP or have a health assessment. You may be referred for intolerance tests and quickly get to the root of the problem while taking a broader look at how your lifestyle might be contributing to your discomfort.