Bloating is very common amongst both men and women. Bloating is often absent upon waking and becomes increasingly predominant over the duration of the day. Symptoms can be very uncomfortable or more mild, they can include:
- Distended abdomen
- Feeling of fullness or tightness around the stomach
- Abdominal pain – generally sharp pains that aren’t strictly isolated to the abdomen area
The pathophysiology of bloating and gas is complicated and takes into consideration many different bodily processes. It involves an understanding of:
- The microflora within the gut
- Intestinal transit
- Volume of intra-abdominal contents
- Sensory function of the gastrointestinal tract
- Gas production and excretion from the intestine
Why am I bloated?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to bloating and most are quite manageable once they have been pinpointed. The following are the most common causes:
- Constipation – this is a very common one!
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux
- Food intolerance e.g. lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Weight gain
- Coeliac disease – this can be serious if left untreated
- A lazy bowel
- During the week leading up to menstruation
There are a few other, more serious causes of bloating that are uncommon but should not be overlooked. If you have been experiencing bloating for a long time and find that altering your eating habits does not help, talk to your doctor as they may want to investigate further.
There are a few changes you can trial with your eating habits and lifestyle that may provide some relief:
- Avoid carbonated drinks and chewing gum – these can both lead to the ingestion of gas
- Eat your meals slowly and take your time chewing food properly. Although you may not be aware of it, scoffing food down can also lead to the swallowing of air.
- Cessation of smoking
- Avoid overeating
- Drink lots of water
- Exercise regularly
There are certain foods/ ingredients that can be common triggers of bloating for some people due to excess gas production:
It is important to not exclude too many foods unnecessarily – this can cut out important nutrients from your diet and can make eating difficult! For this reason, it is a good idea to work out exactly which of the above foods may be causing you an issue and which ones do not – this will involve some trial and error.
This is one of the important roles of fibre. To find out more, see my blog on ‘Increasing Your Fibre Intake’.
It is essential to remember that an increase in fibre should be done gradually and must be matched with an adequate fluid intake – failure to do this can make constipation even worse. This rule applies when taking fibre supplements too.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our Dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
We can help you determine the foods that potentially cause bloating.
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We see children and adults for advice with all areas of nutrition.