Diet and lifestyle tips to beat a bloated stomach

"How do I get rid of bloating"? is one of the most common questions I get asked by clients. Bloating simply refers to distention or increased swelling in the abdomen due to a build up of gas in the digestive tract.

Bloating can be very normal and experienced by many for example after a large meal, drinking fizzy drinks or use of a straw; and can be influenced by stress, smoking or menstrual cycle in women. However for some people especially those with IBS, bloating due to increased gas production can cause significant discomfort, stomach pain, stress and anxiety, and can influence meal choices and limit social activities. Whilst mild bloating can be part of normal digestion; chronic bloating can be a common symptom of many health complaints including Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Coeliac Disease, Premenstrual syndrome, food intolerances such as lactose intolerance and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. It is important you speak with your GP and rule out other potential causes of bloating before assuming it is dietary related and removing food groups from your diet.

If you are struggling with significant bloating alongside other concerns including weight loss, blood in your stool, loss of appetite and ongoing diarrhoea I would encourage you to speak with your GP to ensure other causes can be excluded.

NUTRITION TIPS TO BEAT BLOATING: 

  • Eat smaller regular meals to avoid overeating with larger portions which can contribute to distention and stomach bloating.  
  • Eat slowly to encourage thorough chewing and to prevent overeating.
  • Include soluble fibre and water into your diet as soluble fibre can prevent constipation and reduce bloating. Great examples include oats, linseeds/flaxseeds and fruit and vegetables.  
  • Limit fizzy drinks to avoid ingestion of excessive gas which can contribute to bloating. 
  • Be mindful of your salt intake. Salt increases fluid retention which will expand volume of contents through your digestive tract and thus contribute to bloating after meals
  • Caffeine and alcohol are gut irritants and can cause bloating. 
  • Avoid gas producing vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower and pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and baked beans. 

Whilst food intolerance might be a cause for bloating, food intolerance testing kits are not evidenced based nor recommended and here’s why: Food intolerance testing kits? Are they worth the money?

LIFESTYLE TIPS TO BEAT BLOATING: 

  • Evidence demonstrates the strong link between gut health and mental health and therefore managing stress and anxiety can play a pivotal role in alleviating bloating. 
  • Exercising regularly can help release some of the gas which causes bloating whilst also supporting regular bowel movements to reduce the likelihood of constipation and thus minimise bloating.
  • Yoga and other lifestyle strategies including meditation have been shown to improve gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Avoid overly tight clothing which can increase pressure in the abdomen.
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OTHER TIPS TO BEAT BLOATING: 

  • Peppermint has been shown to alleviate global IBS symptoms including stomach pain and bloating by relaxing the muscles in the bowel wall. You can purchase over-the-counter peppermint oil capsules or on prescription from your GP
  • Probiotics can help to reduce bloating, although there are not effective for everyone and can take some experimenting. Our gut contains over a trillion bacteria all involved in our digestion and mood and sometimes our gut bacteria can be disrupted by antibiotics or infections.  Probiotics are food supplements that try to bring more healthy bacteria into the gut and reduce the less friendly bacteria that produce gas and wind. Talk to a gut health dietitian about which probiotic strains may be beneficial! 
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How can I help you? 

I would love to work with you and arm you with the latest evidence-based dietary advice to help identify your food triggers, encourage a varied diet rather than exclusion of food groups and improve your gut health quality of life. If appropriate I can educate and support you through a low fodmap diet or advise on next steps if all dietary strategies prove unsuccessful.  If you want to learn more then click here victoriadeprez.co.uk/contact and get in touch. 

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