Waistband suddenly feeling tight? It might not just be that you’ve eaten too much.
Like many Australians — men and women— you could be suffering from stomach bloat, which can be triggered by anything from fluctuating hormones to chewing gum.
Sometimes it can be caused by an innocuous glass of water.
Often, bloating is caused by irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that affects a staggering one in 5 Australians (caused by an oversensitive gut, it leads to problems with bowel function and can trigger bloating, as well as cramps, constipation or diarrhoea).
So what could be behind your fluctuating waistband and bloated feeling — and what can you do about it? We asked Dr Wuth, Australian GP and Founder of The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia Doc for his advice!
Studies suggest that when you chew gum you swallow more air, which increases the risk of bloating.
Sugar-free versions are suggested to be worse as they contain ingredients such as sorbitol and xylitol which are fermented by bacteria in the gut and may also cause bloating — double trouble! These ingredients are also found in sugar-free drinks.
Eating quickly can also trigger bloating or make it worse, Dr Wuth said.
Doc Tip: The Doc recommends avoid gulping down food quickly and instead eating slowly to reduce the increase the risk of bloating.
There is a link between the brain and the gut — and so angst can make any digestive symptoms more severe, says Dr Wuth.
In irritable bowel syndrome, this connection is exaggerated and the gut is oversensitive to factors such as stress, diet, hormones and bacteria.
While you may have a predisposition to stomach problems, stress is suggested to be a trigger for irritable bowel syndrome.
Doc Tip: If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we recommend checking in with a doctor for advice before things boil over.
UNDIAGNOSED COELIAC DISEASE
Coeliac disease, which is an allergy to gluten, can cause uncomfortable bloating.
The symptoms can be very similar to irritable bowel syndrome and if you are feeling tired, it may be something to investigate.
Other common symptoms that might help differentiate coeliac disease from irritable bowel syndrome include unexplained anaemia, fertility problems and joint pain.
According to Coeliac Australia, approximately 160,000 Australians are thought to suffer from undiagnosed coeliac disease.
Doc Tip: If you think you have a food intolerance or allergy, keep a food diary for seven days, noting when exactly you ate, what symptoms you had (if any), when they appeared.
Hormonal fluctuations are a common cause of bloating, but other factors can play a role as well. Fortunately, most bouts of bloating tend to resolve quickly with lifestyle changes and medicinal therapies. Bloating will happen less frequently as the body adjusts to its new normal hormone levels.
Doc Tip: The Doc recommends following a low-sodium diet, including fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and lean protein. Keeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting caffeine, alcohol consumption and processed foods can help in reducing bloating.
TIPS TO REDUCE BLOATING?
The Doc recommends eating smaller frequent meals, chewing your food slowly and reducing your overall consumption of carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners, whether through alcohol or other drinks. Limiting alcohol, processed foods and foods that are high in saturated fat as much as possible will help improve your overall gut health.
Bloating and gut problems can be helped with a focus on your diet including what you are eating and how much you are eating.
There are other gut conditions that might cause your bloating systems, and the Doc recommends checking in with one of our prescribing Doctors for how it can be treated.
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