Dealing with Digestive Bloating

What can cause bloating?

Bloating can be caused by a range of different issues that may include:

  • Insufficient production of gastric secretions due to deficiencies, stress, illness, medications, genetic disorders
  • Not allowing your body time to digest (eating on the run)
  • Eating very quickly. When you eat fast you are more likely to swallow air
  • High intake of carbonated drinks
  • An imbalance in gut flora (gut bacteria)
  • Reactions to specific foods, food groups or additives (these may be allergies, food intolerances or sensitivity to particular chemicals use in food processing)
  • Infection e.g. Bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, yeast or parasites
  • Excess alcohol or coffee
  • Some medications can cause digestive symptoms
  • Diseases e.g. Coeliac Disease, IBS, Diverticulitis, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)

Top 10 diet and lifestyle recommendations to help manage bloating:

  1. Take time to eat – don’t ‘gulp’ your food down and chew it well so your body has time to produce the gastric secretions it needs to digest the food
  2. Avoid eating ‘on the run’ or engaging in exercise or vigorous activity immediately after eating
  3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the load on your digestive system and don’t eat too late at night
  4. Include foods in your diet that naturally contain beneficial bacteria e.g. live yoghurt (unless you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, or suspect one), kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh
  5. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (around 30% of which should be raw), especially bitter salads if you have a poor appetite
  6. Don’t drink lots of fluid while you are eating, especially avoid carbonated drinks
  7. Reduce caffeine, alcohol and be careful with chilli as they all irritate the gut
  8. There are various herbs and spices that can be calming on the digestion such as fennel, ginger, peppermint and chamomile. You can add ginger and fennel to foods, chew fennel seeds after a meal OR just have any of the above as a herbal tea after eating
  9. Certain foods are noted for their propensity to cause gas. Common ones are: brassica vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), beans and lentils, onions and leeks, Jerusalem artichokes
  10. Try and address any causes of stress (especially if it is chronic), as stress diverts blood away from the gut and can impair general digestive function.
  11. If you think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or an intolerance that may be cause you to bloat then speak to a registered nutritionist or dietitian.

If you ever have a sudden change in your bowl habits, unexplained pain, or blood in your stool – YOU MUST CHECK WITH YOUR GP FOR A FORMAL DIAGNOSIS TO RULE OUT ANY SERIOUS CONDITION. Always do this before embarking on any complementary therapies for your ailments.