Do you commonly wake up with a flat stomach but look 5 months pregnant by the end of the day? This is a very common complaint amongst women in particular. Whilst this is frustrating because girls can’t fit in to that dress they were going to wear out (the most common complaint I hear), it can also be very uncomfortable to live with and can even lower the quality of life for some individuals.
This blog will discuss the potential causes of bloating to help you get to the bottom of it.
Are you regular?
First off, make sure your bowels are working as they should be. There is no point in becoming distressed about your bloating and learning to live with it if you have not got your bowel habits in order. Constipation is a very common cause of bloating. If you’re not regularly going to the bathroom then your digestion won’t be working like it should. A “normal” frequency of bowel motions will vary from individual to individual but most people know when it’s been too long. A good indicator of constipation is lumpy or hard stools or having to strain when you go.
How to combat constipation
- Do not hold off going to the bathroom as this can make constipation worse as more water gets absorbed out of the stool! Listen to your body’s cues.
- Eat foods high in fibre.
- Drink plenty of water! Your bowels won’t work properly if you’re not getting enough fluid to soften them and help them move through your intestine. If you increase your fibre intake but are not drinking enough, this can actually make constipation worse!
- Do not rely on aperients – your body can become used to these and not function properly without them.
So your bowels are working well but you’re STILL experiencing bloating….
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – this can be another consideration. Most people with IBS will experience bloating. Other common symptoms are excessive gas production, cramps and constipation and/ or diarrhoea. There are foods that are known to exacerbate these symptoms in individuals with IBS.
If your bloating is causing you discomfort, IBS can be investigated and a management plan can be discussed. In saying that, it is important to understand that dietary changes may work effectively for some individuals with IBS but not for others.
FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) is an acronym that represents different short-chain carbohydrates that some people struggle to digest. A low FODMP diet has been seen to benefit some individuals with IBS.
People who have lactose intolerance frequently experience bloating with the consumption of dairy products. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose for absorption and some people cannot produce sufficient amounts of lactase to do so – hence the bloating, gas and irregular bowel motions that often go hand in hand. Cheese and yoghurt may not trigger symptoms as much as milk and other dairy items will – this is due to the lower lactose content of these products. So do not discount a dairy intolerance if you can eat cheese and yoghurt with no qualms!
Coeliac disease is an abnormal reaction by the body to gluten. Bloating and constipation are common symptoms of this disease. A blood test can indicate whether gluten may be an issue for you.
Do not trial the elimination of gluten on your own – it is always best to work out
a) if it is necessary and
b) how to do it properly without missing out on important nutrients!
For some people, legumes can cause gas and bloating. If legumes make a regular appearance in your diet then they could be contributing! However, legumes are a very healthy food so don’t cut them out unnecessarily.
Other common causes can include:
- Swallowing air when you eat or drink – this can occur if you eat too quickly or if you’re drinking carbonated beverages
- Weight gain
- Excessive salt intake
- Inadequate water intake
All of the above can contribute to bloating. If you are concerned about your bloating or you need guidance in finding a solution, it is always a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
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. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns.
Contact us today.