Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common and complex disorder of the digestive system that can often be accompanied by uncomfortable bloating.
Bloating can also be experienced in several other digestive disorders, as well as being a symptom of many other ailments, including some metabolic and hormonal disorders.
IBS is a functional disorder that affects the large intestine, and is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, changes in bowel habits, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Estimates suggest that between 10% and 15% of adults have IBS, with the condition being twice as common in women than men.
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Foods That Cause Bloating
Bloating or flatulence is something we all experience at one point given that you eat. Having a flat stomach all day is practically impossible.
After we eat or drink it is only natural that our gastrointestinal tract will bulge a bit to accommodate the dietary addition. However, there are certain foods that take the bloating to a whole new level.
Gassy Foods: Some foods are just naturally gassy and will cause excessive bloating.
Legumes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, cabbages and Brussels sprouts once ingested will produce gas leaving you bloated. If you are lactose intolerant dairy products will have a similar bloating effect.
Carbonated Drinks: Sodas, sparkling water and beer have a particular fizzing attribute achieved through carbonation.
These bubbles of gas in carbonated drinks get temporarily trapped in our stomachs causing bloating. Taking natural water will help you avoid bloating associated with carbonated drinks.
Bloating at times is not caused by food but rather by some eating habits. Eating high volume meals, no matter how healthy, will cause substantial bloating. Smoking, eating too fast and chewing gum are also habits that can cause bloating.
These activities make you gulp air which gets trapped in your gastrointestinal tract causing bloating. A slight bulge after eating is normal but you can mitigate excess bloating by avoiding the above culprits.
Acidity: the Root Cause
The walls of our stomach naturally produce an acid in a regulated manner to aid in digestion. Sometimes the cells produce more acid than required which lead to a number of symptoms which include vomiting, heartburns and ulcers.
Any breakdown in the mechanism that protects the stomach against damage by acid can lead to acidity.
There is a valve between the stomach and the food pipe ensures the contents of the stomach do not flow back into the esophagus. If the valve is weak it can cause a reflux of the acidic fluids from the stomach into the esophagus.
This usually leads to heartburns. In some instances a strenuous activity or a heavy meal can lead to the reflux.
Gastric ulcers and Duodenal ulcers
Too much acid in the stomach erodes the protective mucus membrane on the stomach and the duodenum leading to ulcers. If the damage occurs in the stomach the ulcers are known as gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers if they occur in the duodenum.
Lack of sufficient blood flow in the stomach, alcohol, irregular food habits spicy food and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs can lead to acidity.
Nervousness and anxiety, common in developed nations, are also known to cause acidity. Emotional individuals are also at a high risk of acidy.
Remedies for Bloating
Bloating may be caused by numerous reasons, despite the cause of abdominal distention is a discomfort and can be embarrassing. Depending on particular cause of bloating several treatments are available.
Enzymes and Bloating Tablets: When bloating can be linked to underlying gastrointestinal problems medical treatment should be used. Bloating can be mitigated by taking enzymes especially for lactose intolerant people.
Taking lactase enzyme tablets before taking dairy products will prevent bloating in lactose intolerant people. Beano tablets are used to prevent bloating caused by eating legumes and vegetables that cause bloating.
Dietary Management: When bloating is not caused by underlying medical conditions simple dietary adjustments can suffice in preventing bloating.
Dieticians advice taking small frequent portions of food. Avoid bloating triggering foods and fatty foods help reduce bloating. Similarly taking your meals slowly and chewing your food properly eases digestion and prevents bloating.
If you prefer natural treatments, a hot cup of chamomile, ginger or peppermint tea will help ease stomach discomfort and ease bloating. It is important to take a well balanced diet and incorporate exercise in your lifestyle. Exercise helps improve bowel movement and help curb bloating.
Reduce Stomach Acid without use of Drugs
In simple terms, acidity can be defined as a burning sensation in the chest. It is associated with many problems such as heartburns and ulcers.
Many people rush to use of over the counter drugs when faced with these symptoms which, in most cases, does not offer a long term solution. There are several simple ways of reducing stomach acid.
Properly chew your food and drink enough water to ensure proper digestion and absorption. Most symptoms occur during strenuous physical activities or at night when one is asleep. Drink milk or milk products at such times. This will help lower the PH the stomach fluids.
Eat these not that…
Avoid foods such as spicy foods, vinegar, chocolate, pickles and pepper containing foods. These cause irritation of sensitive stomach tissue which can be very painful.
Bananas are also known to prevent symptoms of acidity. Eating a banana daily can go a long way in reducing the severity of excess stomach acid.
Refrain from smoking and use of alcoholic beverages. These cause a buildup of stomach acids which may result in heartburns and other related problems.
Eat regularly and ensure you eat a wide balance of healthy food. Avoid junky food with high amounts of sugar and salts.
Bloating V/s IBS
Bloating is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, and it can be accompanied by pain and cramping. IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain, changes in stool frequency, and bloating.
While these two conditions share several common symptoms, they are distinct medical conditions, and it is important to understand the differences between them.
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Rosalba Sigorina is a registered nurse and primary healthcare provider who worked in UAE and Singapore. She is passionate about writing on complex medical issues with thorough research & own experience in simple to read & easy to understand language.