Waistband suddenly feeling tight?
It might not just be that you’ve eaten too much. Like hundreds of thousands of people — women and men — you could be suffering from stomach bloat, which can be triggered by anything from fluctuating hormones to eating certain foods. Sometimes it can be caused by a simple glass of water.
Often, bloating is caused by irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that affects almost one in seven westerners. (Caused by an oversensitive gut, it leads to problems with bowel function and can trigger bloating, as well as cramps, constipation or diarrhea).
While most people’s stomachs may swell just a couple of centimeters, others’ can actually double in girth in just one day, only to ‘deflate’ overnight until the next “attack”.
Not everyone’s stomachs will distend in this way — instead they will report suffering an uncomfortable swollen feeling.
So what could be behind your fluctuating waistband and bloated feeling — and what can you do about it?
Hormonal fluctuations during a woman’s monthly cycle are a common trigger for bloating.
But while many women might put it down to ‘fluid retention’, the cause is actually relaxed muscles.
Many women find they are bloated before their period, and this is due to an increased level of progesterone.
During ovulation, the ovaries produce more progesterone and it causes muscles in the abdomen to relax. Everything (i.e. the organs) isn’t packed in as tightly as usual, causing a woman to look bloated. It tends to get worse just before the menopause.
The muscles in the bowel also relax, meaning they are less efficient at moving food along the gut. This can cause constipation, triggering further bloating. It’s possible to overcome this by eating more fiber.
A Healthy Diet
Anything “healthy” is often a cause of bloating.
High-fiber foods, such as cereals, beans and pulses cause bloating by fermenting in the gut. Don’t force yourself to eat lots of brown bread, bran and vegetables if they are crucifying you.
Healthy snacks are another problem.
Many people spend all day snacking on large amounts of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds — all of which ferment in the bowel and cause problems in both healthy people and those with irritable bowel syndrome. Edamame beans are notorious for causing bloating, yet people eat them because they’re healthy.
Dieting can also cause bloating if you stick to a high-protein diet such as the Atkins or Dukan.
People wonder why they are bloated and constipated, yet they are on a high-protein diet so getting very little fiber, which is what we need to go to the loo regularly.’
Antibiotics and other medication
A lack of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut can lead to bloating. Good bacteria, also known as the gut flora, help to stimulate the digestive process and keep the gut cells healthy.
But taking antibiotics, cortisone, chronic medication, contraceptives or suffering from food poisoning, can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria, causing bad bacteria to proliferate.
This imbalance means you’re more likely to be sensitive to foods that ferment in the gut, causing bloating and gas. Probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria again.
There is clearly a link between the brain and the gut — and so stress can make any digestive symptoms more severe.
In irritable bowel syndrome, this connection is exaggerated and the gut is oversensitive to factors such as stress, diet, hormones and bacteria. In fact, stress is one of the biggest triggers for the condition.
Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease, which is an allergy to gluten, can cause uncomfortable bloating, although it’s not clear why.
Whereas irritable bowel syndrome is basically a plumbing problem, allergies are caused by a problem with the immune system.
Other common symptoms that might help differentiate coeliac disease from irritable bowel syndrome include unexplained anemia, fertility problems and joint pain.
Millions of people suffer from undiagnosed coeliac disease. If you think you have a food intolerance or allergy, keep a food diary for seven days, noting when exactly you ate, what symptoms you had (if any), when they appeared, and grade them from zero to four in terms of severity.
Treatment for Bloating
The general believe is that the main cause of bloating is impaired gut bacteria, but few people realise that digestive enzymes can also be a contributor. However, to conquer bloating you need to cut the fuel supply to the “bad” bacteria in the gut by eliminating sugar and glucose forming foods from your diet. Try the Manna Diet as described in the free e-book.
To reinstate the “good” bacteria in the gut, we have formulated the Manna GUT Support. This product include not only the best and most needed probiotics, but also include the most important digestive enzymes and an amino acid called L-Glutamine to repair the inside wall of the gut.