Most of us experience the discomfort of bloating at some time.
It can often happen after a particularly big weekend or over the festive season. But for many it is an uncomfortable day to day occurrence.
According to a spokesman for the NHS, there are many things that can trigger bloating from excess wind and constipation to coeliac disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
So what are the major bloating culprits and what are the best ways to beat them?
Excess wind and bloating
Cut down on foods such as:
But make sure you still eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Swallowing air and bloating
Don’t talk and eat at the same time, sit down to eat (sitting upright and not slumped over), reduce the amount of fizzy drinks you consume, stop chewing gum and chew with your mouth closed so that you’re not taking in excess air.
Constipation and bloating
Take steps to prevent constipation by eating a fibre-rich diet (granary bread, pulses and vegetables), drinking lots of fluids and taking regular exercise. Even a 20-30 minute brisk walk four times a week can improve your bowel function.
Food intolerance and bloating
Food intolerance can lead to bloating when:
- your bowel doesn’t empty properly
- the food causes gas to be trapped
- too much gas is produced as a reaction to the food
The main offenders are wheat or gluten and dairy products. The best approach if you have a food intolerance is to eat less of the culprit food or cut it out completely.
Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting everything that you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But don’t get rid of food groups long-term without advice from your GP.
Coeliac disease and bloating
Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where your intestine can’t absorb gluten found in wheat, barley and rye.
Apart from bloating, if you have Coeliac disease, eating foods containing gluten can also trigger diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fatigue.
See your GP for a blood test if you suspect you may have Coeliac disease.
There is no cure for Coeliac disease but, once the condition has been diagnosed, switching to a gluten-free diet should help.
Irritable bowel syndrome and bloating
People with irritable bowel syndrome often complain of bloating, especially in the evening.
The bloating of IBS doesn’t seem to be linked with excess wind. It’s thought to be down to erratic propulsion of contents through the bowel.
Symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more severely than others. They tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods. See your GP is you suspect you may have IBS.