Bloating is usually caused by excess intestinal gas, leading to pain, discomfort and a distended abdomen. Excess intestinal gas can be caused by a number of different factors, including constipation, swallowing air and eating gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage and onions. Thankfully, bloating is usually relatively easy to resolve and prevent.
Here are five top tips to prevent bloating:
Eating too quickly or eating with your mouth open causes you to swallow air, which leads to bloating. Taking the time to chew your food properly, eating more slowly and eating with your mouth closed helps to prevent excess air from entering the digestive system. Eating slowly also enables you to digest the food more quickly, leading to a more efficient digestive system. It also lets you know when you are full sooner - perhaps reducing the chances of that cheeky second helping of dinner!
Avoid Fizzy Drinks
Carbonated drinks are one of the main causes of abdominal bloating, as the tiny bubbles of air in fizzy drinks cause gas to become trapped in the digestive system. Choose still water, cordials, squash or fresh fruit juices, rather than fizzy drinks, as this can make a big difference for chronic intestinal gas. Some herbal teas, such as peppermint and chamomile, can help to neutralise excess gas.
Cut Down on Artificial Sweeteners
Some artificial sweeteners can cause excess gas, bloating and other digestive problems, particularly when consumed regularly. Artificial sweeteners can be found in many different foods and drinks, including sugar-free confectionery, diet drinks and chewing gum. Some people are more sensitive to the negative digestive effects of artificial sweeteners than others, so it may be worth keeping a food diary for a few days to see how your body reacts to specific products.
Get Your Digestive System Moving
A sluggish digestive system is another major cause of bloating, as gas can become trapped, particularly if you are also experiencing bouts of constipation. Eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains helps to get a sluggish digestive system moving again. Drinking plenty of fluids and taking regular exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy intestinal tract.
Check for Food Allergies and Intolerances
Food allergies and intolerances can cause a whole range of digestive problems, including bloating, excess gas, abdominal pain and bowel problems. While allergies can usually be diagnosed with simple tests, food intolerances are often more difficult to identify. Ask your doctor to check for any suspected allergies. If you suspect a food intolerance, try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to look for patterns in your symptoms.
Bloating can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but most people can prevent excess intestinal gas by making a few changes to their diet. In some cases however, bloating may be caused by a more serious medical condition, so it's important to seek medical advice if symptoms persist or if you are concerned.