Abdominal bloating is an extremely common and annoying complaint. I’m talking about the kind of bloating that sees your belly expand as the day progresses – the afternoon bloat. The kind of bloating that makes your pants or skirt progressively tighter in the afternoon, and spoils your party dress in the evening.
Occasionally abdominal bloating can be caused by a serious condition, such as liver disease or heart disease, or it could even be an early warning sign of ovarian cancer. However in the majority of cases a bloated tummy is merely a result of poor digestion and/or inappropriate food choices.
Here are 5 ways to overcome a bloated belly:
This is a common cause of bloating. Constipation is usually caused by a diet that is lacking water or fibre, or both. Grains are a good source of fibre but not everyone eats a lot of grains; either because they have an intolerance to gluten or wheat, or because they are following a low carbohydrate diet in order to lose weight.
Luckily vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes are all an excellent source of fibre. If you are still prone to constipation despite an abundance of these foods in your diet, you could try adding freshly ground flaxseeds to your diet, psyllium, rice bran, soy bran or slippery elm. Magnesium is excellent for constipation because it relaxes the muscles of the intestines. For this reason magnesium is excellent for people who get constipated when they are stressed or traveling.
Exercise is also excellent for keeping regular bowel habits because it promotes bowel contractions.
Find out if you have an allergy or intolerance
Eating a food that does not agree with you is the quickest way to become bloated. The most common offending foods are dairy products, wheat, gluten, soy and eggs. Any food has the potential to cause a problem though. Trying to find the problem food on your own can be like finding your way through a maze, therefore we recommend you see a naturopath or nutritionist to guide you through an elimination diet.
Avoid bubbly drinks and bubble gum
Carbonated drinks can cause gas to become trapped in your belly, leading to bloating and discomfort. Plain water or water with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice in it is kinder to your stomach. Peppermint tea is excellent for bloating and abdominal cramps.
Chewing gum is a reliable way to swallow a lot of air, which can cause bloating. Snack on something healthy like fruit and nuts if you are hungry. If chewing gum is a nervous habit, find ways to wind down and calm down.
Slow down and eat less
Bolting your food is a sure way to become bloated and uncomfortable. If you eat quickly you will not chew thoroughly. That means large pieces of food in your stomach and intestines won’t be digested properly; instead they will become food for bad bacteria, yeast and fungi, which produce gasses that cause bloating. Ideally you would eat in a calm and relaxed manner. If you are a busy person and don’t often have time for leisurely meals, digestive enzyme capsules should help you immensely. They help you digest your food more thoroughly, thereby reducing bloating and discomfort. Try not to eat huge meals, particularly in the evening. As well as causing bloating, it will affect the quality of your sleep.
Limit gas forming foods
Beans and lentils have a reputation for causing gas, and if you don’t eat them regularly they can be particularly problematic. Eating small quantities frequently enables your digestive system to adapt. However, some people can never digest these foods well no matter what they do. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower can be problematic also, so try not to eat too many foods from this family at the one time, and particularly not if you hope to slip into a tight dress in the evening.
Artificial sweeteners can cause bloating and so can some natural sugar alternatives. It is essential to avoid the artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose because they can cause health problems far worse than bloating. Some natural sugar alternatives can cause bloating if consumed in large quantities; they include xylitol, erythritol and mannitol. Stevia is a sugar substitute that does not cause any digestive distress. It is available in powder, liquid and tablets. Nature Sweet Sugar Substitute is also a natural sweetener which won’t cause bloating.
Hopefully these tips will help to keep your tummy flat.