Beat the bloat
You may be the ultimate gym bunny and eat clean seven days a week, but sometimes you still can’t avoid the dreaded bloated stomach. To get the ultimate flat tummy in time for the beach, Dr. Ayesha Akbar - Consultant Gastroenterologist at St. Mark’s Hospital in London - has identified what causes that uncomfortable stretched stomach feeling.
Bloating is usually a signal our body is struggling with digestion, but it’s not always necessarily related to diet issues. Read on to find out why your stomach may be bloating.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
“IBD is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gut, and includes Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Main presenting symptoms include diarrhoea, blood in the stool, tummy pains and weight loss,” Dr. Akbar explained to Cover Media, adding that it can lead to bloating. This is because gas gets trapped in the bowels and causes bloating. IBD sufferers may also experience bloating if they have scar tissue (adhesions) as a result of previous surgery.”
Drinking lots of water can potentially reduce the likelihood of bloating, says the medical professional.
“This is because dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can halt digestion as, when your body attempts to counter-balance the effects of being dehydrated, it holds on to excess water,” she explained.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
“Although the bowels and intestines of someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) look normal, unlike IBD where we can see inflammation, this is not to say their digestive system is working normally,” Dr. Akbar pointed out. IBS is caused by a loss of coordination within the nerves of our digestive system, so while nothing is structurally wrong, sufferers have something functionally wrong. The condition is characterised by constipation and/ or diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain.
This is one of the most obvious causes of bloating, and often makes your stomach feel hard. Causes include eating too little fibre, not drinking enough water, lack of exercise and side effects of medication and ever stress.
Eating too fast
“Eating too fast can lead to bloating,” Dr. Akbar shared. “If we eat too quickly, it is possible that we inhale a lot of air. Therefore, we end up with large volumes of gas and sitting in our stomach that can manifest as bloating”.
Other reasons include stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes and food allergies and sensitivities.
To help sufferers of bowel disease St. Mark’s Hospital and the St. Mark’s Hospital Foundation have launched a new and Institute, the St. Mark’s Institute for Bowel Disease. Combining leading research, education and clinical expertise, the aim is to give people suffering with their bowels a positive future.