Bloating - what it is and how to prevent it

Bloating is normal and many people struggle with it... But how do we prevent bloating altogether? Here are a few tips to help you try living a “Bloated-Free-Life”.

What is bloating?

Bloating is usually associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders or organic diseases, but it may also appear alone. The pathophysiology of bloating remains uncertain. There is some evidence that suggests the cause could be: 

  • gut hypersensitivity
  • impaired gas handling
  • altered gut microbiota
  • abnormal abdominal-phrenic reflexes 

Bloating can even be caused by Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is a group of intestinal symptoms that typically occur together. The symptoms vary in severity and duration from person to person. 

I feel a little bloated today | DNAfit BlogIf you suffer from bloating you aren't alone...

You can live better without being held back by the discomfort of bloating. We’re all unique, and we respond to the environment in different ways. When you understand how your body works you’ll be able to manage your nutrition and avoid foods that cause, in this instance, bloating.

What causes bloating?

You’ll probably find yourself asking “why am I so bloated?” at some point in your life. A study by the US National Library of Medicine found that 30% of people suffer from bloating. The main causes are:

  •     Overeating
  •     Food intolerance: lactose intolerance and coeliac disease
  •     Eating foods high in sugar
  •     Eating foods that are high in fat – harder to digest
  •     Eating too fast
  •     Chewing gum
  •     Drinking through straws
  •     Imbalances in your gut bacteria
  •     Inadequate protein digestion

Top tips to prevent bloating:

Swallow less air 

Swallow less air?… you’re probably thinking: what? Swallowing less air is not meant in a literal way it just means drinking less carbonated beverages. Using straws also ropes in a lot of air and so does gulping down your food too quickly, you unintentionally swallow more air, which worsens bloating. 

Watch out for gas-forming foods

Certain carbohydrate-containing foods have sugars that are fermented in the colon, resulting in excess gas production in some people. Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols are found in foods known as high FODMAP foods. These fermentable sugars include lactose, fructose, fructans, polyols, and galactooligosaccharides. Decreasing FODMAPs can improve bloating symptoms, but this should be done with the help of a dietitian to prevent an overly restrictive diet.

FODMAP foods | DNAfit BlogThese foods are linked to irritable bowel syndrome and similar gastrointestinal disorders such as bloating

FODMAP foods that can cause bloating

  • Dairy, especially if you are lactose intolerant
  • Onions, cauliflower, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • Beans and lentils
  • Stone fruit such as prunes and apricots
  • Whole grains in large portion sizes
  • Sweeteners (xylitol, sorbitol, high fructose corn syrup)

Bloating myth busting

You may have heard, from a friend or family member, that the following foods can help with bloating, but is it all true? 

Probiotics reduce bloating

True! Probiotic supplements can help improve the bacterial environment in the gut, which can help reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.

Aged cheeses cause less bloating

Sometimes true! Aged cheeses are lower in lactose and therefore may cause less bloating in lactose-intolerant individuals. However, aged cheeses can still cause bloating in individuals who have IBS or have an amine intolerance.

Eating fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water combats bloating

Sometimes true! Fruits and vegetables with high water content can reduce bloating symptoms if your bloating is caused by constipation.

Drinking more green tea alleviates bloating

False! Green tea still contains caffeine which could worsen bloating. Drink a lot of water daily -as this will help to alleviate constipation.

Take time to relax 

If you suffer from bloating as a result of IBS, this may affect how you feel, so taking time out to relax can be an effective way to deal with bloating. 

Bloating symptoms, especially in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are worsened by your emotional state. The effects of stress and anxiety can manifest in the gut for some, so take some time off. Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness techniques can help here. 

Eat small regular meals 

Try eating 5 small meals per day instead of fewer larger ones.

Improve your gut bacteria 

Improving your gut microbiome can improve bloating symptoms. Fermented dairy and vegetable products such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut can help you with your gut bacteria, however, if you’re into alternative methods of improving your gut bacteria make sure your probiotic supplements contain Bifidobacteria. 

Get moving! 

In addition to improving your mood, regular exercise can help alleviate trapped gas. Exercise stimulates gut movement, which helps remove excess wind and relieve constipation, leaving you less bloated. 

If you are looking for more ways to improve your health, get Health Fit.

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