Most people experience the discomfort and pain of a bloated stomach at some point, but for some it can be a regular occurrence. The most common cause of stomach bloating is problems digesting certain foods, which can lead to excess gas and trapped wind. “Abdominal bloating occurs when pockets of air or gas build up or become trapped along the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and small and large intestines,” said WeightWatchers. “The odd bout of bloating is normal, especially if you’re out of your regular routine, such as when you’re travelling, sick or just eating foods you don’t normally consume. But if your bloating is prolonged or uncomfortable, don’t just put up with it.”
WeightWatchers lists four common causes of a bloated stomach and how to relieve symptoms.
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut
The microbes that live in the gut are made up of trillions of microorganisms, some of which are regarded as ‘friendly’ bacteria, while others are not so friendly.
When the bacteria are working harmoniously, the gut is happy, but when there is an imbalance of one type, bloating and diarrhoea may occur.
To keep a healthy balance, include healthy bacteria found in yoghurt, fermented foods and probiotic drinks in your diet.
Eat lots of vegetables to feed the friendly bacteria, and avoid highly refined foods. Also try to avoid taking several rounds of antibiotics as these not only kill off bad bacteria, but good bacteria as well.
Certain foods, like baked beans, produce more gas than other foods, which can lead to flatulence and bloating.
For some people this is only a minor inconvenience, but other people can be more sensitive to the effects due to an inability to digest certain food groups.
To find out if particular foods may be causing your bloating, eat a balanced diet and keep a record of when you feel bloated and what you ate beforehand.
Talk to a dietician or doctor, and don’t cut out whole food groups without medical advice.
If bowel movements are irregular, hard to pass or very dry, this can cause gas to become trapped between stools.
Take steps to improve constipation by eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, as their fibre content will help the bowels to move regularly.
Drink plenty of water to help soften the stools and try to keep active.
Everybody swallows air, but swallowing too much can cause a bloated stomach. To combat this, eat slowly and chew well between each mouthful.
Try to make mealtimes relaxing by sitting down to enjoy your food. Avoid eating on the go, rushing your meals, chewing gum and drinking lots of fizzy drinks.