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Ask an Expert: The Most Common Bloating Questions Answered

There may be more to your 'food baby' than you think...

Bloating can be one of those frustrating side effects that can really occur in anyone because eating will always cause some sort of stomach distention which is a normal part of life. However, if you regularly end up with an extreme distention of the stomach such as a ‘food baby’, there could be something more at play and it would be advised to get advice from your healthcare provider.

 

Q: What are the causes of bloating?

A: Lily says...

The most common causes of bloating can be down to swallowing too much air whilst eating, but also from fermentation when certain types of carbohydrate reach the gut. The time it takes for the symptoms of bloating to subside can also really vary from person to person.

 

Q: How can we avoid bloating?

A: Lily says...

1. Mindful Eating

The first step to manage bloating is to assess the way you’re eating. Mindful eating can be a great first step for helping to improve digestive health, focus on chewing thoroughly, eat slowly, and eat away from distractions such as your laptop, TV and phone. By eating mindfully you can help with optimal digestion and may  minimise the occurrence of bloating.

2. Reduce Stress

Both physiological and psychological stress causes the same bodily stress response which shunts energy away from digestion, which may lead to fermentation within the gut and subsequent bloating.

3. Detect Food Intolerances

Food intolerances such as a lactose intolerance may also contribute to bloating, the gold standard method for detecting food intolerances is to carry out a food elimination diet, which is best done under the guidance of a nutritionist or dietician.

4. Keep Moving

Lastly focus on minimising constipation by consuming enough fibre within the diet and taking regular exercise. Research suggests that a 20-30 minute brisk walk several times a week can help to stimulate peristalsis within the gut and improve bowel function.

 

Q: Why do I feel bloated when at work, and how can I alleviate such symptoms?

A: Lily says...

Desk jobs can result in a sedentary lifestyle which can hinder digestive health. Movement is a key factor for stimulating peristalsis (muscle contractions) within the gut which can help to move everything along. If you regularly suffer from bloating, try getting up off your desk and walking around the block or try regular stretching throughout the day.

Prevention is key when it comes to bloating because there are limited options to alleviate symptoms. Whilst movement may help, some people swear by fennel tea and peppermint oil capsules for their soothing effects on the stomach. It’s also thought that charcoal may have some properties to help us debloat!

  

Q: Can chronic bloating after eating be bad for us?

A: Lily says...

Everyone will struggle with bloating from time to time, and this is a normal physiological response to eating. However with more extreme cases, it could be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition such as coeliac disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), therefore it’s important to seek advice from your health care practitioner.

 

Q: Are there any lunch time foods which help or hinder bloating?

A: Lily says...

Anything which is known to cause you to be gassy such as beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower. Whilst these foods are certainly healthy, they could be one to avoid if you suffer from that post-lunch bloat. Opting for blended foods such as PRESS' soups, smoothies and juices are easier to digest and may help to keep symptoms at bay.

 

By Lily Soutter, London Nutritionist BSc (Hons) Food & Human Nutrition, Dip NT

www.lilysoutternutrition.com

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