If you follow my FB page, then you have most likely seen some of my posts showing some ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots of my bloated belly! I have a particularly sensitive digestive system so for those of you who experience bloating on a fairly regular occurrence, I am here to say, “I feel your pain!”. Literally.
Bloating is surprising quite common, in fact two-thirds of women will experience it periodically in their lives. 1 in 5 of us might experience bloating so severely that it ends up impacting on our lives. I’m not talking about having to widen your belt after an overindulgent meal; I’m talking extremely expanded and often painful bloating!
Understanding why we experience bloating can help us to more appropriately deal with and manage these uncomfortable symptoms.
Menstrual Cycle - It is very common for women to experience a bit of bloating due to water retention just before and during the onset of her period. This is due to a large fluctuation of hormones in the body, such as oestrogen and progesterone. Unfortunately there isn’t too much you can do about this except avoid having too much salt in your diet which will only enhance the water retention.
Water Retention - Water retention refers to an increase of fluid flowing through the circulatory system as well as a build-up in body tissues. There can be several causes for this; including menstruation and also physical inactivity which is why many people experience swelling in the lower limbs after a long flight. High levels of sodium (salt) in the diet will also cause your body to temporarily retain more fluid. A little tip: Potassium helps reverse these effects, so eat foods such as tomatoes, asparagus and citrus fruits.
Excessive water retention over an extended period of time could also be an indication that there are other underlying health issues that need to be addressed. So if this is the case I suggest you check with your doctor or health professional.
Tummy Bugs - Gastroenteritis or ‘the tummy bug’ can also cause bloating of the belly due to gas build up and diarrhoea, as your body fights to rid your digestive system of the bug.
Food allergies/intolerances - Another common cause for serious bloating after eating can be food allergies or intolerances. Common food allergies that can cause bloating include gluten, wheat, dairy, fructose, corn, eggs and soy. If you notice that you have a mild reaction after eating a very specific food, then I would advise you try to avoid that food in future. If you are constantly having reactions to the foods you eat, or the reaction is severe, then it is important that you consult your doctor.