Eating too quickly, lack of exercise, dehydration and stress are just some of the reasons many of us suffer from bloating.
Editor Jane Garton looks at some lifestyle tweaks and herbal remedies that may help to ease any discomfort.
As we make the slow exit from lockdown, too much sitting and not enough activity during the past few months have been common issues. Add to that overindulging in comfort foods alongside stress and anxiety has left many of us feeling the strain around our tums.
Bloating is a common problem, but the good news is that a few tweaks to your lifestyle plus some herbal help can be all it takes to flatten things out.
Read on for why you may be feeling bloated and some simple solutions.
Eating too fast
Gulping down your food and drink can all lead to bad digestion, which in turn can result in bloating. The secret is to eat and drink slowly and mindfully to give your system a better chance of good digestion.
The herbal remedy artichoke is also worth a try. Research now shows that its leaves contain a powerful substance called cynarin, which is thought to help boost digestion. It can also provide relief from the symptoms of indigestion such as nausea, bloating, constipation and trapped wind.
Premenstrual bloating is a familiar symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The rise in the hormone progesterone, which occurs just before menstruation is thought to be responsible as is fluid retention.
Drinking plenty of water to encourage the excretion of excess fluid, cutting back on salt and following a simple diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables will help. Think about trying the herbal supplement agnus castus. It is thought to help re-balance hormones, and many find it brings relief to PMS symptoms such as bloating.
Too much stress and the uncertainty many of us have experienced during lockdown can turn our digestive systems upside down. As the ‘fight or flight’ response comes into play, blood is diverted away from the non–essential organs including the digestive system and instead is directed to the heart and lungs to cope with stress. Common signs are a distended stomach as well as pain and nausea.
Exercises including yoga can be very beneficial and help to release trapped wind. The herbal remedy rhodiola is also worth a try if stress is starting to play too big a part in your life.
It sounds obvious, but constipation – a major cause of bloating – could be triggered by something as simple as not drinking enough fluids, which can slow your system down. Aim to drink at least 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day, and cut down on drinks like caffeine, alcohol, and fizzy or sugary drinks which can lead to dehydration.
Top tips to try:
A probiotic yogurt for breakfast can help ease digestive stress. Friendly or ‘good’ bacteria supplements can also aid digestion and help counteract the negative effects of bad bacteria in your gut.
What to eat more of
Overall try to eat more slowly and chew food thoroughly. Go for high fibre foods such as wholegrain cereals, brown rice, and plenty of fruit and veg to avoid constipation – a major cause of bloating. Try to eat fruits by themselves, as they tend to digest faster than other foods: eating them with protein foods such as meat, or carbohydrates such as potatoes or pasta, causes fermentation in your gut, which can lead to bloating. Try switching to camomile or mint tea to help ease indigestion and other bowel problems that can trigger bloating.
What to avoid
Too much salt causes fluid retention so instead why not try flavouring foods with lemon juice, herbs or spices. Avoid fizzy drinks and chewing gum, which create gas, and contribute to a protruding tum. And limit you alcohol intake; it can make bloating worse especially on hot days.