Most of us have dealt with bloating at some point in our lives. It can feel like you’re painfully full, like your belly is swollen or that something in your digestive tract is causing you discomfort.
The discomfort can range from mild to extreme, and while a lot of the time it can come and go without causing any real issues, chronic bloating isn’t something we want to be dealing with - especially if it points towards a more serious health concern.
The good news is that, while there are many different causes of bloating, many of them can be combatted with simple lifestyle changes. Check out some of the common causes of bloating below and their possible solutions.
If you experience a lot of bloating combined with occasional tummy aches, gas, diarrhoea and constipation, then IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) could be to blame.
It’s likely you have a sensitive gut so take note of which foods tend to lead to the above symptoms - it’d then be a good idea to cut back on these particular foods. Play around with fibrous foods like beans and whole grains and see which affect you the most. It might take a while, but trial and error will get you there in the end.
2 Food intolerances
If your bloating tends to occur straight after meals, then it may be a reaction to a type of food that you’re eating. Everyone is different and your body is ever changing - so a food that works for some people may not work for you, and a food that used to work for you may suddenly start to give you unwanted symptoms like bloating. Food intolerances can also affect your skin, energy levels and joint health - so watch out for these symptoms too.
Common offenders are dairy, gluten (like wheat, for example) and soya products - but there any many types of foods that can provoke unwanted reactions in the body. If you suspect a food intolerance, try keeping a food diary to see if there are any noticeable patterns. Consult with your GP if you wish to investigate further.
3 Cruciferous vegetables
We should be rewarded for eating our greens, not punished with bloating, gas and discomfort!
Chowing down on super healthy veg like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage is usually done with the best intentions, but sometimes the results are less than ideal. Cruciferous vegetables like those listed above as well as Brussels sprouts, radishes and rocket contain sulphur, which is what can lead to that bloated feeling you know and hate.
The answer? Don’t skip these health-giving veggies altogether. Try cooking them a little more thoroughly (avoid eating them raw at all) and see if that does the trick.
For women, bloating can be especially bad before and during our period. As if there weren’t enough unwanted symptoms around this time of the month, bloating can occur as a result of a hormonal imbalance between progesterone and oestrogen, which often happens when we experience PMS.
High oestrogen levels can lead to water retention, which can give you that feeling of bloatedness in the belly. As tempting as it can be to gorge on junk food and have a duvet day during your period, try and keep your diet on track, exercise regularly and stay hydrated. We promise it’ll help!
5 Too much salt
A hidden danger in your diet that could be to blame for your bloating is high salt levels. While we certainly do need some salt in our diets, sometimes we might not realise just how much of the stuff is lurking in our meals - especially if we eat out or buy prepared meals quite often.
Too much salt can cause your body to hold onto water, which can lead to water retention around the belly. Try cooking more homemade meals where you can to control the amount of salt in your food, and try not to add table salt to your meals once they’ve already been seasoned.
If your symptoms of bloating are getting consistently worse, please do visit your GP to make sure there are no serious underlying conditions.