There are many reasons you feel bloated and the reasons aren't as simple as your diet or mood, but also how your day-to-day routine impacts your health.
Why it could be your diet
If a bout of bloat strikes you as frequently as avo pics are posted on Instagram, you’re not alone.
New research suggests more than two-thirds of Brits are affected by bloating, with a quarter suffering at least a few times a week.* And the reasons could lie in our food and drink choices.
“Eating too much or too fast can cause bloating,” says Lucy Jones, consultant dietician and director of Nutrifit Health. “Simply slowing down and stopping before you feel full can alleviate symptoms.”
But it’s not just how you’re eating, it’s what you’re consuming, too.
“Fizzy drinks and fermentable carbohydrates like beans, pulses, onion and garlic can induce bloating, as can cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower,” adds Lucy.
She recommends removing suspected trigger foods from your diet for two weeks, then reintroducing them to confirm any effects weren’t coincidental. Oats and linseeds are great sources of fibre if you can’t tolerate certain fruit and veg.
Try the app Cara (free, iTunes), to track your food, mood and bowel movements so you can keep on top of triggers. Or download Oviva (free, iTunes) to find registered dieticians.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses of water daily, either, as it will help reduce water retention. “But stick to tepid or warm water, as cold water can worsen bloating,” says Maeve Madden, author of Beat Your Bloat.
Why it could be your mental health
Stress has long been linked to many different conditions, and a recent survey revealed that it is the biggest trigger of IBS and gut problems.**
“Stress has a notable impact on the gut,” says registered dietician Dr Megan Rossi. “Stress hormones can send a message to disturb the balance of your gut, meaning even foods that you would normally be able to tolerate could spark an uncomfortable reaction.
“Carve out time in your day to unwind,” she says. “Just 15 minutes using a mindfulness app or doing yoga is a great way to help rewire your gut-brain axis,” In other words, relaxing the mind gives the digestive system a nudge to do the same.
Yoga is proven to help decrease stress, but if you don’t have time to hit a class, Fiit is a new online fitness service that provides workouts and yoga flows taught by top trainers that you can do in your living room.
Monthly membership costs £20 (Fiit.tv).
Alternatively, apps such as Pacifica (free, iTunes) can help with reducing anxiety and boosting your mood through meditation, goal-setting and an active support community.
Why it could be medical
In some cases, regular bloating can be a symptom of illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, coeliac disease, endometriosis or ovarian cancer, so it’s worth consulting your doctor.
“If bloating is accompanied by changes in bowel habit or menstrual cycle, weight loss or any other worrying symptoms, visit your GP,” advises Sam Treadway, clinical scientist at The Functional Gut Clinic.
Sources: *ProVen Probiotics **Alflorex
- Follow Dr Megan Rossi on Instagram @theguthealthdoctor.
- Beat Your Bloat by Maeve Madden (£14.99, Kyle Books)
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