Whether it’s an occasional bout of stomach discomfort after a big meal or a daily battle with a protruding tummy, bloating is an annoying affliction for many.

In most cases, bloating is merely an irritating side effect when certain foods don’t agree with your body, but there are some very real problems behind the condition. It can be extremely hindering for those affected — sometimes even inhibiting their ability to work and be active in everyday life.

Dietary choices

More often than not, simple dietary changes will improve bloating. These changes include what — and how — we eat each day.

Jan Purser, naturopathic nutritionist at Food, Body and Health, says poor dietary choices affect the body’s capability to properly digest food.

“A combination of factors will eventually weaken the gut wall and make people much more prone to food sensitivities, reactions and bloating, ” she says.

“It can be a bit of a process of retraining the person into better eating while we do gut-healing work.”

Charlene Grosse, accredited practising dietitian and Dietitian’s Association of Australia spokeswoman says changing simple eating habits can help ease bloating.

“Make sure you’re eating slowly with your mouth closed to avoid gulping down air, ” she says.

Ms Grosse also recommends eating five to six small meals daily, eating a main meal earlier in the day and creating a relaxed eating environment, as stress can affect your digestion.

Joanne Dembo, principal dietitian at Diet By D’Zyne, says dietary fibre from vegetables, fruit and wholegrain breads and cereals will help de-bloat the stomach.

“Also keep well hydrated and choose yoghurts and fermented milk drinks that contain probiotics.”

Ms Purser says reducing caffeine, alcohol and sugar also helps.

Food intolerances

If you’re eating a balanced, healthy diet and are still regularly bloated, it’s possible you have a food intolerance.

Certain foods, grouped under the banner of “FODMAP foods” are common triggers for bloating in people with food intolerances.

“Food intolerances or sensitivities, particularly towards FODMAP-containing foods, is a major cause of bloating, ” Ms Dembo says.

Ms Purser says people with irritable bowel syndrome are often helped by avoiding FODMAP foods.

Seek help

Because there are so many possible causes of bloating, it’s important to see a qualified health professional for an assessment. Making changes that don’t address the problems you have can increase discomfort even further and make the symptoms more difficult to reverse.

Get bitter

A lack of stomach acid is a sure way to end up with a bloated tummy.

Try some apple cider vinegar in a glass of water 10 minutes before eating and include more bitter vegetables in your diet — vegies such as rocket, radicchio lettuce and watercress — to stimulate your acids.

Courtesy of naturopathic nutritionist Jan Purser.


© The West Australian

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