Tina Richards December 28, 2011

Though bloating is a common problem that occurs in most people it can often result in low self-esteem, discomfort and even pain.

With the help of our experts we have put together some deflationary tactics that will soon flatten things out.

THE SUPPLEMENTS

According to Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director at Healthspan, ‘Although bloating is often linked with overindulgence or eating a rich diet, it can also occur if you have digestive problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

If symptoms persist, see your doctor to rule out potentially serious conditions.

If nothing serious is found, symptoms may be related to insufficient production of bile, which is needed to break down dietary fats before they can be absorbed.

What could help?

Artichoke tablets stimulate bile production and can relieve bloating. Other natural treatments include drinking peppermint, ginger or fennel tea, taking probiotic supplements and aloe vera. ‘If bloating is due to constipation, increasing your fibre intake and taking magnesium supplements can help,’ advises Sarah.

THE EXERCISE

‘A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that bloating is lower in people who exercise,’ says Dean Hodgkin, Ragdale Hall Health Hydro’s resident fitness expert (deanhodgkin.com). Why? ‘Exercising increases blood flow, which leads to these muscles working more effectively.

Dean advises trying:

• Jogging

• Cycling

• Swimming

• Aerobics

Certain yoga poses are also thought to energise the gut,’ says Dean. Try this: sit on the floor with your legs extended and cross your left leg over your right leg, keeping your left foot flat next to your right knee. Bring your right heel close to your left hip and place your left hand on the floor by your left hip. Inhaling, wrap your right arm around your left knee and twist your body to the left. Hold for 15 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.’

THE FOODS

‘A review published recently suggests that a low FODMAPs diet can help ease bloating caused by IBS,’ says nutrition advisor, Patsy Westcott.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are poorly digested sugars found in numerous fruits and vegetables, some dairy foods, wheat, and pulses. They cause bloating by producing excess gas. Gluten-containing foods and insoluble fibre (bran) found in whole grains and wheat can be other culprits. ‘Eliminating these could help banish the bloat. But do consult a doctor or dietitian before cutting out whole food groups from your diet,’ adds Patsy.

Low FODMAP foods include:

• Hard cheeses;

• Lactose-free dairy products;

• Fruit and veg such as bean sprouts, pak choi, carrots, pumpkin and courgettes;

• Fish and selfish;

• Meat such as chicken;

• Eggs;

• Spelt and gluten-free breads and pasta;

• Rice;

• Most herbs and spices.

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