Florentina Sgarz, BA
Feeling bloated? – Here is what really helps!
Feeling bloated again? Even after having eaten only a small meal? Is your stomach often painfully bloated after meals? – Especially if you are eating out, this can be very unpleasant. Here you can find out where this phenomenon comes from and what really helps prevent bloating.
A bloated belly, also called meteorism, is when the stomach becomes uncomfortably swelled with gas and it can cause pain. Around 20% of people suffer from bloating. A constantly bloated abdomen is not harmful in itself, but it can lead to a swelled belly that can often cause abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness. Bloating is usually caused by excessive gas production, food intolerances or a disorder in the movement of the intestines.
Bloating without flatulence?
Bloating and flatulence are among the two most common intestinal complaints, but what causes the bloating? An excessive accumulation of gas in the abdomen can lead to a bloated stomach. The excess air in the abdomen pushes the intestinal walls outward, resulting in a visible bulge in the abdomen. This pressure can cause uncomfortable abdominal pain. A bloated abdomen occasionally occurs without flatulence, which exacerbates this situation. A constant or recurrent bloated abdomen can lead to further discomfort such as excessive belching or flatulence. The duration of the bloating can range from a few minutes to 24 hours.
Typical symptoms of a bloated stomach often occur at the same time, such as:
- Too much air in the abdomen
- Feeling of fullness
- Feeling of pressure
- Measurable increase in abdominal girth
- Frequent belching
- Stomach pressure
- Bowel sounds
- Increased bowel movements
- Stool irregularities, for example constipation
The symptoms of a bloated abdomen can be very unpleasant, and people who frequently struggle with a bloated abdomen often suffer from severe pain. Especially when intestinal gas is restrained symptoms can be so pronounced that they resemble those of a heart attack; this may include chest pain, dizziness or even a shortness of breath.
Causes of flatulence
When food enters the intestines, it is broken down by bacteria and intestinal gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are produced. These gases multiply in the abdomen and, if they do not escape through the lungs or intestines, can lead to a painfully bloated stomach. Bloating may be caused by eating too fast, swallowing air, eating foods that are prone to cause bloating or even food intolerances, stress, gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The best way to prevent a bloated stomach is to avoid foods that are prone to cause bloating. If the discomfort is very severe and recurs to this extent, it makes sense to have a gastroenterologist test for possible intolerances.
What helps with a bloated belly?
There are a number of tips and tricks that can help relieve bloating. You should try the following options before resorting to medication:
- Healing clay: It is a natural powder that is made of clay. It binds excess fat and can help fight bloating.
- Tea: certain herbs have a soothing effect on the intestines.
- Hot water bottle: The heat relaxes the gastrointestinal tract and relieves the feeling of bloating.
- Abdominal massage: massaging the lower abdomen can stimulate intestinal activity and it starts working. Often it then transports the air to the outside.
- Fennel: Fennel seeds have an antispasmodic and digestive effect.
- Pass wind: Although not always appropriate, passing wind can often be very relieving and reduce pain.
Probiotics for flatulence
First of all, try to find out the cause of the flatulence or bloating to avoid the possible triggers. One possibility to help relieve and at the same time prevent bloating is to take probiotics. Probiotics contain intestinal bacteria that are present in every human being, however there may be various reasons for a reduced balance of this bacteria. This means that the balance of the “good” bacteria in the intestine no longer exists and pathogenic germs can spread more easily. Taking probiotics can have a positive effect on intestinal activity and also on well-being.
How to prevent a bloating
If you want to prevent a bloated belly as a preventive measure, here are some tips:
- Eat slowly: If you eat too quickly, then you often forget to chew properly. The digestive tract therefore has more work to do and must still decompose the food.
- The right food: There are foods that contain a lot of fats or substances, such as sulfur or carbohydrates, that stimulate gas production. Examples are cabbage, unripe fruit, beans and carbonated drinks.
- Exercise: Exercise is very effective against bloating! It stimulates intestinal activity and therefore digestion.
- Probiotics: Probiotic bacterial supplements are often recommended as therapy for irritable bowel patients.
- Colon cleansing: With a colon cleanse, you can rid the intestines of residue and start a fresh.
- Drink plenty of fluids: You should try to drink more water rather than sugary or carbonated drinks, as these stress the stomach and may cause a bloating. Sufficient fluids help the intestines break down food.
- Avoid stress: There is no organ that is as sensitive to stress as the intestines are.