What Happens When You Bloat

If you’re someone that regularly experiences bloating, you’ll know how much of a blight it can be. Caused by excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gases in your digestive system, it can cause  abdominal discomfort, gassiness and distention that can last hours or even days. According to a report produced by Core, the UK’s only charity to fund research into gut, liver, intestinal and bowel illnesses, bloating is more likely to affect women than men (62% vs 41%) with over 60% of 18–34-year-old and over 50% of 34–44-year-olds regularly experiencing it . But because bloating, alongside many other digestive issues, is not always easily treated by GPs, learning to read your own digestive system and understand what’s normal for you, is really important. That way you can begin to understand the impact of your daily diet and look for triggers which can lead to bloating. In the meantime, there are several things that can be done to improve bloating and even eliminate it altogether. Here’s the lowdown…

Chew your food

Bloating is often caused by taking in too much air as you swallow your food, which ends up in your intestines; chewing gum or drinking through a straw might seem innocuous but they could also be contributing to your discomfort for the same reason. Chewing your food carefully before you swallow not only limits the air you take in, but it also forces you to eat more slowly, which can help you better understand your fullness signals too.

Rule out dietary causes

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, spelt and barley can have a sensitising effect on digestion, which can lead to bloating. If you are prone, try eliminating gluten from your diet for a week and see if that reduces the issue. Pay attention also to lactose (found in milk) and fructose, a simple sugar fond in plants. Both are part of a wider group of often indigestible carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligo, di-, monosaccharides and polyols). Intolerance to those is a very common cause of bloating and pain, so watch your intake and cut down or out if necessary.

Reduce fizzy drinks

Excessive amounts of air being swallowed when you eat and drink is a common cause of bloating and gas, thanks to the carbon dioxide bubbles which are released after the liquids hit your stomach. If you regularly drink fizzy drinks, including sparkling water, it could be to blame.

Reduce your fibre

Despite good digestive health practise telling you to up your intake of fibre, for some people (often those following a plant based or vegan diet), reducing the amount of fibre such as wholemeal bread and bran, may alleviate symptoms of gassiness and bloating. That’s because although it’s essential for keeping the digestive system healthy, it also promotes fermentation and gas formation in the digestive system. 

Try a probiotic

If your bloating is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, it may be wise to start taking a regular probiotic, which can help good bacteria to thrive and reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your gut. Workshop’s Probiotic + Prebiotic also contains prebiotics which feed the good bacteria thus creating a better and more balanced gut microbiome.