Updated June 2022 by Serena Bansal Registered Dietitian BSc Hons
Bloating is an annoying symptom that affects most of us some point in our lives, and for the unfortunate few, it affects us on a daily basis. It leaves us feeling tired, sluggish and in some cases with a painful, windy stomach.
The reason most of us suffer with bloating is because our digestive system is extremely complicated in how it works. There are so many processes going on inside it, that just one tiny change to your routine could upset this balance and cause bloating.
So how do we keep our gut in a happy balance? What are these lifestyle factors that could be upsetting us?
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Stress is another complex process which involves a lot of hormones in your body. The original need for stress was so that cavemen had a surge of energy to hunt and fight. However, when stress hits us daily because we didn’t get some work done, then it is not very helpful.
This hormonal change affects the nervous system around your digestive system, causing you pain and bloating. So try and take at least 20 minutes a day to yourself to relax by going for a walk or reading a book.
This is a group of carbohydrates which are known to give off more gas when being digested. Examples of this would be reheated potatoes, cooked dry pasta or ready meals.
You should be opening your bowels every day and your stools should look like a sausage. Anything other than this e.g. rabbit like droppings, cracks in your stool, bowels opening every other day, will lead to a build up of gas which will cause bloating.
If you think you maybe constipated then you need to increase your fluid intake, fibre and exercise.
Your digestive system has millions of good bacteria (gut flora) which help with digestion. These bacteria are extremely sensitive and can be killed off by antibiotics. If you have been on antibiotics recently, consider starting a probiotic to restore your gut flora.
Caffeine & Alcohol
Both of these are drugs which can affect the nervous system around our guts causing us to have more bloating and wind.
We all know fruit is good for us but too much can be a bad thing when it comes to bloating. If you do suffer with bloating try to space your fruit out through the day and have no more than 3 portions a day (1 portion= 1 handful). So that you are getting your 5 a day, replace some of the fruit with vegetables.
Have you ever diagnosed yourself with a wheat intolerance? Was this after eating a particularly large meal? Next time you are cooking try weighing out portion sizes to get an idea of what they should actually look like, you may be surprised N.B: 1 x pasta portion (dry) = 80g.
Exercise releases feel good hormones, relaxes us and helps our bowels get going. You should be doing AT LEAST 30 minutes of exercise a day.
It goes without saying that fizzy drinks will cause bloating as they contain gas, not to mention the caffeine that some of them also contain.
For a more personalised programme to combat bloating and other digestive disorders please book a 1-2-1 consultation
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.
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