Bloating: Time to deflate some myths
Bloating is one of the most common gut symptoms people report and it’s a topic that also attracts some pretty ridiculous media stories - with claims to have discovered the latest 'quick fixes' and 'magic foods' that will beat the bloat.
It's no wonder there's confusion around the subject - so it’s to 'deflate' some of those bloating myths!
WHAT ACTUALLY IS BLOATING?
Put simply, it's the feeling of increased pressure in your intestine that in some cases may also cause a visible protrusion (aka 'air baby').
Intermittent bloating (i.e. the type that comes and goes over the course of the day), is more common and is typically managed through diet & lifestyle.
Whereas continuous bloating, which is when you’re always bloated with no fluctuations over the day, is less common and is best reviewed by your GP first.
BUSTING COMMON MYTHS ABOUT BLOATING
1. MYTH: Bloating has a common cause.
The truth is there's no single cause nor one-size-fits-all, as it's much more complex.
There are many different triggers, including the sheer volume of food and fluid you've eaten, the backlog of poop in the case of constipation, or simply the gas produced by our gut microbiota (GM) when faced with a load of fermentable carbs.
Here is where things get complex - whether you feel the bloat or not can be down to your intestine's sensitivity and how efficient your body is at absorbing the gas produced by your unique GM.
2. MYTH: Bloating is only caused by what we eat.
Outside of food intolerances, I find it's rarely the case that specific foods alone cause bloating. Stress, wearing tight clothes all day and lack of movement are common contributors - as well as HOW we eat.
3. MYTH: Bloating can be fixed by cutting out [insert healthy food].
Before cutting out foods that are perfectly good for you because an online article said lentils or apples were the 'biggest culprits'… there are a bunch of simple things you can do to ease the bloat.
These include checking for common food intolerances, splitting your food intake into smaller meals, chewing well, avoiding tight clothes and rewiring the gut:brain axis.
In my book Eat Yourself Healthy, I take you through all of the evidence-based diet and lifestyle strategies shown to help with bloating - and importantly I help you personalise the advice to your unique situation.
4. MYTH: Eating certain foods like celery can eliminate bloating.
No single superfood can magically cure bloating, as much as we might wish it would! In fact, concentrated celery juice may indeed trigger bloating in people with IBS.
Rest assured the occasional bloat is totally normal, especially after a heavy meal or extra fibre.
In fact, a little bit of bloating after a high fibre meal is a good thing! It means your inner community of microbes are well-fed and doing their job.
In my mind, bloating is only an issue when it’s ongoing, you can’t explain it and it’s impacting your quality of life. No one should have to live with that.