Lifestyle

How to Reduce Bloating

Feeling bloated? You’re not alone. Bloating is one of the most common complaints in many patients with functional gut disorders, as well as the general population, experienced by 16-30% of people. The severity of bloating can be very difficult to classify, since it is often a subjective measure, as up to a quarter of patients with bloating do not experience the abdominal distention. Here’s what you need to know…

What causes bloating?

Bloating is normal after a big weekend of eating, or a festive season where you are consuming more food than your stomach is used to, leading to discomfort and distention due to the excess content you are holding.

Persistent bloating is what could be a problem and may be due to a range of factors, such as:

  1. Constipation
  2. Swallowing air
  3. Fizzy drinks
  4. Food intolerances
  5. Functional gut disorders

How to Reduce Bloating | Myvegan

Dietary tips to reduce bloating

1. Rule out allergies/intolerances

Common intolerances or allergies include lactose (found in dairy), fructose, eggs and gluten (especially wheat). Intolerances to these can lead to production of excess gas, which becomes trapped, and the bowel not emptying properly, resulting in bloating.

2. Gassy foods

  • Certain foods such as beans, onions and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower can lead to excess gas and bloating. These foods are extremely nutritious, but large quantities may cause bloating in some individuals.

How to Reduce Bloating | Myvegan

3. Sugar alcohols

These are sweeteners often found in chewing gum which cause bloating as gastrointestinal bacteria digest them, producing gas. Avoid xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol; erythritol may be better tolerated than other sugar alcohols.

4. Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and other conditions

  • If none of these tips help, go to your GP to rule out certain gut disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD includes Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis and involves inflammation of the digestive system.
  • Coeliac Disease is an immune reaction to all forms of gluten.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects up to 10% of the population and may also be considered.

6. Avoid constipation

  • Consuming enough fibre is important for a regular bowel movements. Foods like Chia Seeds and Ground Flax Seeds are extremely fibre-dense, containing both soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Chia Seeds help soften stools, making them easier to pass due to the soluble fibre, while Flax Seeds retain water in the large intestine, increasing bulk and softening the stool due to the insoluble fibre.

Lifestyle tips to reduce bloating

1. Chew your food well

By doing this with your mouth closed, your food is better digested. You eliminate how much air is swallowed, reducing the amount of air that can become trapped. Chewing well may increase feelings of satisfaction of fullness, leading to a reduced load on your stomach.

How to Reduce Bloating | Myvegan

2. Avoid stress

Stress can cause digestion to slow down in some people, leading to bloating, pain and constipation. Stress can also trigger digestive conditions including IBS and IBD.

3. Ensure you get adequate sleep

A lack of sleep can lead to the release of a stress hormone, cortisol, leading to digestive disturbances resulting in bloating. Lack of sleep also causes the hunger hormone, ghrelin, to spike, making you hungrier!

How to Reduce Bloating | Myvegan

Take home message

Both dietary and lifestyle factors can affect bloating. Fibre can really help, particularly if the cause of the bloating is constipation or poor gut health. However, persistent bloating may be a sign of a bigger issue, so make sure to see your GP if you are concerned about this.

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Eli Brecher

Eli Brecher

Writer and expert

Eli Brecher is a healthy recipe developer and food stylist, who has been specialising in dairy-free and gluten-free recipes for over 5 years. As the founder of Eli Brecher Nutrition, her mission is to make nutrition less stressful, with her simple, delicious and accessible recipes. As a result of living with Crohn’s all her life, Eli is qualifying to become a Registered Nutritionist. Eli’s undeniable passion for the wellness and nutrition industry has seen her firmly cement herself as one of the industry’s leading recipe developers, working with high profile brands on the supermarket shelves such as Alpro and Waitrose, and designing the menus at London’s top boutique fitness studios. Eli also has her own product line, Eli’s Granola, offering you a luxurious healthy breakfast. You can find Eli’s recipes on her Instagram @elibrechernutrition and her website www.elibrecher.co.uk. Her granola is available to order from www.elisgranola.co.uk