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Tummy Dilemma: How to Manage Bloating & Gas!

Now, I am certain that a lot of you suffer from bloating, and feel quite “gassy” at times which can  be extremely uncomfortable.  A few common causes for such symptoms include constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or a certain food intolerance which you will need further investigations for. Certain foods can also cause such symptoms so by the end of this column, you would have hopefully gained some insight as to what the cause may be.

Constipation

Constipation occurs  when your usual stool pattern changes from regular and easy to irregular and difficult when going to the bathroom. The Solution: FIBRE, FLUID & EXERCISE!

Foods that contain fibre include: wholegrain breads, brown rice, brown pasta, all bran, weet bix, muesli, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, lentils & chickpeas .When you increase your fibre intake, make sure you include more water or fluids which act as a “flushing” system. Aim for 8-9 glasses of water per day (or 3-4 small bottles of water per day).

Include some activity  into your daily routine as  exercising the muscles in your  stomach massages the colon, helping the contents to soften and move through easily.

Common Gas Causing Foods

These foods are common culprits of bloating so keep an eye out! Some of these foods are high in fibre and are advised to be included as part of a high fibre diet. However, you can limit how much you have if you get a reaction:

Apples, beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, celery, capsicum, broccoli, eggplant, dried fruit, raisins, bananas, nuts.

Fizzy drinks including sparkling water can cause bloating as the gas they contain can end up in your stomach, so if you tend to fill up on them, then try to eliminate them and see whether any relief is gained. Also, most “diet” foods contain artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol which can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as gas and bloating if consumed in large quantities. Consuming a large amount of fruit and fruit juice can also cause symptoms of bloating  so try not to exceed over2 serves of fruit per day if fruits are a suspected culprit.

Food Intolerance

Some people blame bloating to a food intolerance which is usually tricky to diagnose because symptoms can be so wide, ranging from bloating, constipation, diarrhoea to headaches, fluid retention & fatigue.  Common food intolerances include intolerances to dairy, wheat, sulphites, salycylates, amines & fructose to name a few.   Contrary to the practice of alternative or natural therapy clinics, there are no blood tests that reliably identify food intolerance. Such tests are inaccurate, often indicating a very long list of problem foods to be avoided. These lists make it difficult to manage a healthy, balanced and enjoyable diet.

If you do suspect a food intolerance, then keep a food and symptom diary for a few days and contact your GP or Dietitian for further advice.

 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

For a diagnosis of IBS, you will need to see your GP or a gastroenterologist.IBS is a disturbance in the functioning of your digestive tract and may cause symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, constipation, variable bowel habits & gas. Two known triggers of IBS are stress and diet. Some common dietary triggers of IBS include the following:

  • Caffeine
  • Excessive fibre intake
  • High fat foods
  • Fermentable sugars : Lactose,  Fructans, Galactans,  Polyols & Fructose
  • Salicylates & amines

In summary, it is always a good idea to investigate the cause of bloating in order to have the right management plan. Keeping track of what you eat can always help identify the triggers. So before seeking help, write down a 3 day diary of what you ate and what symptoms you have experienced. It will then be easier for us to know what may be the cause!

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