I’m a gastroenterologist – here are six things that might be causing you to bloat
- Gastroenterologist Dr Almed Albusoda revealed what might be making you bloat
- This can include using a straw, cruciferous veggies and eating too quickly
It is something up to a quarter of healthy people are plagued by on a daily basis.
But stomach bloating can have a number of different causes, some less obvious than others.
Gas may be a natural by-product of digestion, but certain factors can cause an increase in gas production, resulting in bloating.
From using a straw to broccoli and Brussels sprouts, gastroenterologist Dr Almed Albusoda revealed to MailOnline all the things that might be making you bloat.
Dr Almed Albusoda, consultant gastroenterologist at The Princess Grace Hospital in London, revealed to MailOnline all the things that might be causing you to bloat
Using a straw
Think twice about reaching for a straw next time you have a drink.
Because with each sip you first swallow air, which can lead to an increase in gas production, according to Dr Albusoda, consultant gastroenterologist at The Princess Grace Hospital in London.
He said: ‘This happens when you use a straw to drink – when you take a sip of your drink, the air travels to your digestive tract, causing increased gas and bloating.
‘This is further exacerbated by drinking soda through a straw – so stick to uncarbonated drinks and lose the straw if you’re particularly susceptible to bloating.’
Carbonated drinks can result in worse bloating due to the liquid already containing gas.
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There are many possible side effects of taking antibiotics.
But they can also disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the gut, resulting in bloating.
Dr Albusoda said this occurs due to an overgrowth of certain bacteria that can cause an increase in gas production.
He added: ‘If you have recently finished a course of antibiotics, there are several things you can do to minimise the negative effects.
‘This includes taking quality probiotic supplements, eating fermented foods like kimchi, kefir or sauerkraut, and eating fruits like bananas and watermelon which have a high prebiotic content.’
Probiotics break down difficult to digest molecules and help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, reducing inflammation and gas production.
High-fibre vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts are encouraged for balancing hormones and managing cholesterol.
But cruciferous vegetables contain raffinose — a sugar that remains undigested until your gut bacteria ferment it, which produces gas and makes you bloat.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage and kale, are also high in sulphur, which can lead to excessive gas.
Some people’s bodies cannot process sulphur properly, resulting in a build-up which causes gut inflammation.
And too much fibre can also be difficult for your body to digest, especially if you’re not drinking enough water – which helps break it down.
Dr Albusoda added: ‘If you suffer from bloating after eating these foods, try switching them for vegetables like courgette, green beans, carrots, spinach, or squash.
‘These are lower in fibre and are therefore easier for our gut to digest.’
Eating too quickly
Busy lifestyles generally do not lend themselves to mindful eating, Dr Albusoda claimed.
He said: ‘You might regularly eat dinner on the sofa whilst watching TV or on-the-go in between meetings or running errands.
‘And this can mean we are distracted, rushing and not chewing our food for long enough.’
The faster you eat, the more air you swallow — and, like fizzy drinks, once that air passes to your intestine, it can lead to bloating and discomfort.
Dr Albusoda added: ‘Try to practise mindful eating by switching off your TV, not looking at your phone during mealtimes, sitting at a table to help with digestion and chewing your food properly before moving onto the next mouthful.’
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Your bloating could be the sign of too much bacteria in your gut.
Small intestinal bacterial growth (SIBO) occurs when there is an increase in the types of bacteria in the small intestine, especially those that would normally grow somewhere else in the digestive tract.
Dr Albusoda said that whilst key symptoms of SIBO are usually abdominal pain and diarrhoea, it can also cause bloating and gassiness.
He said: ‘As the overgrowth of bacteria begins to use up the body’s nutrients, patients can also suffer from malnutrition and unintended weight loss.’
This is because the bacteria can stop your body from digesting and absorbing the food you eat. This can result in a deficiency of vitamins and other nutrients.
SIBO can be caused by a number of things, including a complication after a gastrointestinal surgery or an underlying condition such as liver disease, coeliac disease, IBD, diabetes, or gastroparesis.
The relapsing condition can affect up to one in seven people, according to the NHS.
It is diagnosed by carrying out investigations such as a physical examination of the abdomen, a blood test, a special breath test to check levels of hydrogen and methane (by-products of bacterial growth) or by analysing a faecal sample.
Treatment for SIBO is usually a straightforward course of antibiotics, or dietary changes if necessary.
Too much salt
As well as causing high blood pressure and other health issues, eating a high sodium diet can lead to water retention, making you feel puffy and bloated.
Water retention, medically known as edema, is an accumulation of extra fluid in body tissue which results in swelling.
According to the NHS, adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – approximately 1 teaspoon.
Dr Albusoda advised people be mindful to check the sodium content of pre-packaged foods and meals, ‘as they are often loaded with salt’.
He added: ‘Drinking more water and eating potassium-rich foods like bananas, lentils and avocado can help with water retention and bloating caused by high salt intake.’
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