Do you have abdominal bloating? Find out how to prevent, reduce or eliminate a swollen belly

Do you have abdominal bloating? Find out how to prevent, reduce or eliminate a swollen belly

swollen belly is a very common annoyance that can torment at any age, but it is also a typical symptom of numerous diseases or disorders of the digestive system .

There are many causes , and many solutions: in most cases, exercises, supplements and massages can help reduce swelling quickly , and simple lifestyle changes can prevent it from recurring.

Studies show that appreciable results can be achieved.

What is abdominal bloating and what can be the causes?

Index Article

Bloating occurs as an unpleasant feeling of fullness and tension in the stomach and intestines .

It is usually accompanied by symptoms such as changes in stool frequency (constipation or diarrhea) , abdominal cramps, flatulence and belching . 

It generally occurs due to a buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. The gas present in the digestive tract can essentially come from two sources: the air ingested and the gas produced by the intestinal bacterial flora.

These intestinal gases are mainly composed of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane coming from the digestion and fermentation of food in the intestine, and the swollen belly is the consequence of an excess of these gases , which leads to evident bloating. abdominal.

Abdominal bloating is associated with gastrointestinal disorders or diseases , but it can also appear in individuals without any particular health problems.

In less severe cases, abdominal swelling is usually attributable to diet . 

Therefore, a swollen belly is often a passing symptom, caused for example by a meal that is too large or eaten quickly, or by weight gain .

But at other times, it can be the symptom of a health problem that requires a more in-depth diagnosis, as it could also be a multifactorial disorder.

The causes

abdominal bloating food allergies

The causes of abdominal bloating can be different

  • it can be caused by digestive problems, constipation, food allergies, intolerances, gastroesophageal reflux
  • from the diet, i.e. from the abuse of carbonated drinks, or products such as salt and sugar, from weight gain, from being celiac
  • hormonal changes may be a cause
  • water retention
  • taking certain medications (such as medicines containing lactulose or sorbitol); voiding syndrome (a possible complication of duodenal ulcer or obesity treatments )
  • or from accumulations of fluid in the abdominal cavity.

In addition, swelling can be caused by distension of the abdomen, which is commonly associated with: ovarian cysts; premenstrual syndrome; uterine fibroids; partial intestinal obstructions. 

Some supplements, such as iron for example, can also cause constipation (as various testimonials show ) and other indigestion symptoms; as well as certain drugs , the intake of which can cause side effects that affect gastrointestinal function or cause indigestion.

When is there to worry about who to turn to?

In most cases, the solution to bloating is in the diet.

Many cases of this disorder are resolved by following an adequate diet.

However, if despite the dietary precautions the swelling persists , the only way to identify the exact cause of the discomfort is to contact a specialist doctor.

This is especially advisable if abdominal swelling is associated with disorders such as diarrhea; vomit; severe or persistent abdominal pain; blood in the stool and change in stool color; modification of the frequency of evacuations; unjustified weight loss; fever; chest pain.

Abdominal swelling generally does not indicate a pathological condition, and is often temporary.

Who to contact?

But in some cases it can indicate a serious medical condition, such as

  • a liver disease
  • an inflammatory bowel disease
  • heart failure
  • kidney problems
  • thyroid problems
  • tumors (in particular colon cancer, liver cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine diseases such as fibromatous uterus).

For this reason, in all cases in which intestinal swelling has persisted for a long time, or although the precautions the disorder does not subside, it is good to go to a doctor for a visit .

How to prevent, reduce or eliminate abdominal bloating?

There is nothing better than prevention to solve the swelling problem

In general, a healthy lifestyle can be a good remedy to solve and above all prevent the problem of abdominal swelling. The best remedy for a swollen stomach is prevention.

In the absence of pathological forms and / or other diseases, it is possible to prevent a swollen belly simply by following a healthy and balanced diet, respecting what is dictated by food education and performing regular physical exercise. 

This problem, as already mentioned, is in fact caused in most cases by an incorrect diet, or by stress. In these cases, a healthy diet and regular physical activity are the basis for the prevention and solution of this type of intestinal disorder (as well as many other health problems on the other hand).

From a food point of view, for example, it is necessary to pay particular attention to the correct combination of foods to solve the problem of a swollen belly. 

How to reduce or eliminate swelling

Another frequent cause of this disorder are food intolerances , such as: in case of lactose intolerance , an effective remedy to avoid belly swelling is to remove all foods containing lactose from the diet ; in case of gluten intolerance (celiac disease), following a gluten-free diet is the only food remedy to reduce the symptoms derived from the pathological condition (including a swollen belly).

Furthermore, taking yogurt with live lactic ferments, or a probiotic in the case of antibiotic therapy, can be useful in solving the problem of a swollen belly, as well as maintaining a decent supply of fiber and a good level of hydration.

Another remedy to alleviate the swelling of the intestine can then be to train the abdomen, for example through torso twisting exercises.

Also decreasing daily tension can be an excellent remedy to relieve abdominal swelling, especially if it derives from stress.

Very useful activities in this sense, can be for example yoga or pilates, the practice of which can help to position the muscles in the abdomen in such a way as to encourage the release of excess gas from the gastrointestinal tract; as well as the adoption of a correct breathing technique, which can favor the reduction of swelling thanks to the intestinal massage constantly exercised by the diaphragm during breathing.

It is also possible to take some substances that can relieve and reduce intestinal swelling, for example

  • charcoal
  • some antibiotics, which exert their rebalancing action on the bacterial flora at the enteric level without being absorbed by the intestine
  • probiotic lactic ferments; soluble fiber based supplements
  • non-fermenting osmotic laxatives and stimulants of fluid secretion in the digestive tract.

There are also many natural remedies useful for abdominal bloating, such as: ginger; fennel seeds and extracts of some herbs (for example melissa officinalis or fumaria officinalis).

But also the essential oil of fennel, which can help relieve swelling; peppermint oil capsules, which may also be helpful for indigestion and related gas

Another remedy can be supplements containing a combination of fennel essential oil and curcumin.

Before taking these supplements, however, it is always advisable to discuss them with a doctor, because some formulations of essential oils may be toxic or interfere with medications, and there is no dosage adjustment.

Taking probiotics, which are good bacteria that live in the gut; reducing salt intake, in fact an excess of sodium causes the body to retain water, and this can cause a feeling of bloating in the belly.

Solutions deriving from the use of natural and chemical substances are not always effective for some causes of swelling.

People who have this disorder frequently may find that certain lifestyle changes can address the causes and reduce abdominal bloating over time.

abdominal bloating banana kiwi
Two foods that can help you are bananas and kiwifruit

For example, it can be useful to gradually increase the intake of fiber and fruits such as banana, kiwi, mango, raisins and melon . 

Eating more fiber helps prevent bloating, however, it’s important to remember that eating too much fiber or increasing your fiber intake too quickly can cause even more gas and bloating. therefore, when increasing your fiber intake, it is best to start slowly and increase your intake over several weeks.

Typically, specific medical treatments are not needed to remedy abdominal swelling.

In any case, the patient with a swollen belly can undergo a targeted medical intervention in some circumstances, such as: intestinal obstruction requires surgical treatment consisting in the removal of all the intestinal parts in necrosis ; colon or ovarian cancer requires radiotherapy, chemotherapy and / or surgery; appendicitis, requires appendectomy; gallbladder stones require cholecystectomy.

How to get rid of abdominal bloating if you are in menopause?

Women tend to suffer more than men from excess intestinal gas and bloating. The causes of this phenomenon are different, and concern both anatomical and physiological aspects.

Specifically , the factors that make women more prone to swollen stomach problems are: the greater length of the colon; the abdominal muscles less developed than that of the male sex; the notable influence of female hormones on intestinal activities and metabolism in general.

Particularly accentuated then, is the problem of intestinal swelling in menopausal women .

In fact, the decrease in estrogen capable of influencing the quantity of thyroid hormones involved in metabolic regulation causes the slowing down of female metabolism in the period of menopause.

This slowdown, combined with other factors typical of this period such as hormonal fluctuations and the decrease in hormone levels, cause an easy weight gain, due to the fact that the body is no longer able to burn the calories ingested as it once was.

Furthermore, menopausal women generally tend to eat more and less healthily, mainly due to greater stress and nervousness; and, on the other hand, relaxation of the abdominal muscles in postmenopausal women is also responsible for an increase in abdominal volume. 

To solve or at least keep the problem of intestinal swelling at bay, it is advisable to regularly carry out preventive checks, and always consult a doctor or gynecologist in the case of recurrent ailments such as abdominal pain and excessive stiffness of the abdomen.

In addition, the remedies for a swollen belly in menopause are different and concern, above all, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

As regards the diet, in particular, it is advisable to have breakfast or a snack with low-fat white yogurt enriched with lactic ferments, or, alternatively, you can take probiotics that help restore the intestinal bacterial flora. 

The diet must also include many vegetables: these, in addition to containing many antioxidant substances that purify the body, are rich in fibers and natural enzymes that promote digestion and the elimination of faeces.

But it is also advisable to take a lot of whole foods (pasta, rice, bread). For example, cornflakes are excellent, since corn is one of the richest foods in fiber ; as well as oats, which contain many soluble fibers that support good bacteria and counteract the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.

On the other hand, it is necessary to avoid complex and particularly refined carbohydrates, such as those present in baked goods, but above all legumes, because they contain sugars that easily undergo fermentation. 

Instead of salt, it is advisable to use spices, many of which help deflate the belly. Among these, the most useful are ginger or some flavoring herbs such as mint.

You can then use natural supplements containing plant ingredients with anti-fermentative action, able to act on abdominal swelling, and on the drainage of body fluids.

What are the foods that make your tummy swell?

bloating fried foods
Alas, fried foods can help swell the tummy

In general, in order not to incur (or decrease) the problem of a swollen stomach, it is important to follow a regulated and healthy diet.

The first rule to follow, for example, is to avoid complex foods, which force the gastrointestinal system to do digestive work, which actually slows down digestion. 

But the foods absolutely to avoid for those suffering from this problem, are in particular foods that are difficult to digest , such as dips, fries, spicy and high-fat foods.

Also foods that can induce flatulence , such as legumes , but also cabbage, onions, aubergines, yeasts and carrots .

Also limiting the consumption of milk and derivatives (whipped cream, milkshake), is an excellent remedy to relieve or prevent abdominal swelling in lactose intolerant subjects.

As well as avoiding foods that involve the combination of milk and eggs.

Anyone who suffers from a swollen stomach should avoid taking too

  • soft drinks, sweets and artificial sweeteners
  • smoothies, mayonnaise and puff pastry (because they contain air, and therefore can aggravate the feeling of a bloated belly)
  • soft bread or breadcrumbs.

Recommended foods to be taken for those suffering from this problem are: fruit and vegetables (for example apples and fennel), as they are rich in antioxidants (vitamin C and E); and wholemeal foods (pasta, rice) and rich in fiber.

The diet for a bloated stomach

The choice of foods and drinks that you usually take, the way of combining them, cooking and eating them have considerable consequences on digestion and on the risk of developing abdominal bloating.

It is true that at the origin of the disorder there can be a multiplicity of causes, ranging from errors in eating habits and lifestyle, to functional disorders of various types (for example, irritable bowel syndrome); from stress to more serious diseases to be diagnosed and treated specifically.

But whatever the cause of symptoms, what is certain is that nutrition and the way you eat are factors in most cases of intestinal bloating.

Let’s see which kinds of foods are more or less advisable, to follow a correct diet and solve or alleviate the problem of intestinal swelling.

First of all, vegetables are rich in fiber, but they lengthen digestion times and increase fermentation by the intestinal bacterial flora, consequently promoting gas production and the risk of abdominal bloating.

The vegetables that most of all increase the formation of intestinal gas are legumes , and, in particular, those containing greater quantities of sugars such as beans, peas and lentils. 

Some measures can be taken to reduce the fermentation of legumes by the intestinal bacterial flora.

For example, they can be cooked by adding baking soda to the water (after an adequate period of soaking the dry seeds), or aromatic herbs and spices with anti-swelling properties such as bay leaf, basil, mint, thyme, cumin, rosemary, etc.

Even consuming legumes in the form of puree or puree can make them more tolerable in the stomach and intestines since, by breaking up the cuticle that covers the seeds (indigestible for the gastrointestinal tract of man), the digestive process is accelerated, reducing time of fermentation and, therefore, the production of intestinal gas.

Fruit can also cause some inconvenience in terms of intestinal swelling.

The main aspect to consider concerns the sugar content of the various fruits, since fructose in particular and other substances present in these foods tend to promote fermentation by the intestinal bacterial flora and, therefore, the production of intestinal gas. .

To reduce the phenomenon, it is advisable to limit the intake of very sugary fruits such as raisins, bananas, apricots, plums, figs, persimmons, dates, papaya, avocado and mangoes and, in general, of all very ripe ones, including apples and pears, always preferring slightly unripe fruits (if they do not create problems with acidity or heartburn), or at the right degree of ripeness.

Also in order to avoid excessive intestinal fermentation, it is recommended to eat fruit as a healthy snack in the middle of the morning or as a snack, avoiding it after lunch or dinner.

As for carbohydrates , whole-grain ones are generally recommended. A crucial aspect for maintaining the digestibility of cereals is the method of preparation.

Pasta, rice and whole grains used for salads or soups must be cooked to the right point and seasoned in a simple way, with low fat and avoiding combinations that can make digestion difficult or promote intestinal fermentation. 

Equally problematic can be the digestion of fried and / or leavened baked products (such as bread, pizza, focaccia, fried dumplings, pancakes, etc.), which can cause abdominal bloating and heartburn due to yeast and any fatty condiments ( oil, lard, etc.) and fillings (onions, peppers, olives, cheeses, cured meats, etc.). 

Drinks and the way they are taken can also be a factor in the problem of intestinal bloating.

Fizzy drinks and carbonated drinks tend to be avoided , and therefore: sugary or sweetened drinks, beer, sparkling wines, sparkling wines or cocktails with soda.

Then, considering that the introduction of greater or lesser quantities of air into the digestive system are also linked to the way you drink, you must always remember to drink slowly and from the edge of a glass or cup, never with a straw. , because it channels the air. 

Products to deflate the belly

There are several products that help deflate the abdomen .

Among the natural remedies, in particular, there are carminative plants , which exert their therapeutic action against a swollen belly by eliminating gas.

For example, there is cumin, with digestive and antimicrobial properties; anise; fennel, which has a stimulating action on the motility of the stomach and intestines, as well as an anti-fermentative activity

  • the angelica
  • mint and chamomile, with spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Even supplementing the diet with natural products formulated with fiber can be a good remedy to treat a swollen belly (even if the excess of fiber can favor it, if their intake is not done properly), such as for example

  • glucomannan
  • psyllium pectins
  • karaya gum
  • glutamine, a fundamental nutrient for enterocytes (cells of the intestinal mucosa whose health depends on the correct selectivity and intestinal absorption capacity).

There are also some drug treatments to remedy a swollen belly. Those who use drugs must always do so with moderation and common sense, and above all with medical advice or prescription.

Among the drugs useful for the treatment of intestinal swelling, there are among others: parasympathetic-mimetic drugs (muscarinic agonists), which favor intestinal peristalsis, speeding up the time for intestinal gas removal

  • bethanechol (e.g. Myocholine)
  • antifoam and antacid drugs such as dimethicone (eg Simecrin, Meteosim)
  • probiotic supplements
  • drugs which, being able to regulate intestinal activity, favor the engraftment of the symbiont bacterial flora.

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