It’s a fact of life. From time to time, for one reason or another, we all feel a little bloated. After a big meal, we generally expect to feel full, and sometimes, a little uncomfortable.
But for some of us, bloating can get quite severe and painful. When this happens, we want relief as soon as possible.
What is bloating?
Bloating happens when you have a build-up of gas in the stomach and intestines. The sensation can range from mild discomfort to sharp, intense pain as the trapped air moves around your abdomen.
You may notice that your stomach looks distended, and this swollen appearance can sometimes be quite extreme.
So, what can we do to ease that bloated feeling? And is it possible to prevent it in the first place?
Treating the bloat
Next time you’re suffering with a swollen stomach, try some of our tricks to help battle the bloat.
- Pick up some peppermint
Peppermint has long been used to ease digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation and trapped wind.
Peppermint tea is a popular choice, as well as peppermint capsules. Just make sure you choose slow-absorbing coated tablets to avoid heartburn.
- Take the heat
A little heat can go a long way to ease the pain of bloating. Try applying a hot water bottle or heating pad to the stomach to help relax the muscles in the gut and move the gas through the intestines. A hot bath can also help get things moving and soothe painful sensations in the stomach.
- Choose charcoal
A natural product, available in health food stores and pharmacies, activated charcoal doesn’t need a prescription. Taking the supplement before and after meals can help to prevent trapped gas in the gut. Just be careful to introduce is gradually, and don’t be alarmed if you notice a change in colour to your stools!
- Pile on the probiotics
Taking steps to enhance your gut health may help to ward off bloating. Including a good probiotic in your diet can help keep your digestive tract moving, reducing constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating.
Yoghurt, kefir, and buttermilk, as well as fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and tempeh are all good sources of natural probiotic.
- Gentle exercise
Regular exercise, even gentle walking, can keep your digestive tract moving. This can help to relieve constipation and reduce bloating. You can also try taking a little gentle stretching such as yoga or Pilates to encourage movement through the gut.
Preventing the bloat
Want to head the pain off at the pass? Try some of these tips for keeping bloating at bay.
- Eat slowly
When we rush our meals, we can often cause ourselves a lot of digestive discomfort. We may not be chewing our food properly, making it harder to digest, as well as swallowing excess air which gets trapped in the gut. Take your time over your food and chew thoroughly.
- Avoid chewing gum
Munching on gum can also cause you to take in extra air which, when swallowed, can lead to bloating. Try mints for an alternative breath freshener.
- No fizzy drinks
Carbonated drinks are a common cause of bloating, thanks to all the bubbles entering your digestive system. Try opting for still substitutes, such as fruit juices or water with natural flavourings.
- Take a closer look at your diet
It’s estimated that around 45% of UK adults suffer with a food intolerance. Yet, despite almost half of the population experiencing reactions to between 4 and 6 ingredients on average, the majority don’t know their own particular trigger foods or that their recurring symptoms are the result of a food intolerance.
Could it be a food intolerance?
Food intolerances, which can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it, can cause a host of inflammation.
Headaches, brain fog, skin complaints, low mood, and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance, as well irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bloating.
Take control of your diet
It can be difficult and frustrating to get to the bottom of a food intolerance. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients in our diets, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem, and leaving sufferers still experiencing symptoms.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company. At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our tests also include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet and avoid your trigger foods.