That bloated feeling
I work as a copy writer and spend long hours at my desk, working on my laptop. I exercise moderately. Yet I find my days are made miserable because of bloating. An hour or so after eating my stomach feels like it has swelled into a balloon. I have tried antacids but they give temporary relief. Please help.
Why bloating occurs
Bloating, gassiness and abdominal discomfort might look very simple but the problem can be quite painful and embarrassing to those who suffer from it. Severe bloating and pain often disrupts the daily routine of patients.
1. Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating.
2. Eating too fast adds to the risk of bloating after a meal. The remedy is simple – eat at a moderate pace. Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen one’s appetite.
3. Another most common cause of temporary bloating is ‘gas in the abdomen’. About half of gas in the digestive system is air that has been swallowed. The rest is produced by bacteria in the gut that help digest food.
What you can do
Avoid habits like drinking through a straw, guzzling carbonated beverages, chewing gum and sucking on hard candy. These habits tend to increase the air we swallow, which, after a while, might cause bloating.
Each person’s reaction to a range of food differs. This isn’t an inclusive list, but often some of these foods might be the culprit. Try to strictly avoid or reduce consumption of these foods.
1. Beans, chickpeas and lentils contain indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides.
2. Fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, green peas, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, apricots and sprouts may cause gassiness and bloating.
3. Sweeteners can also cause gas and bloating. Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener, can’t be easily digested. Fructose, a natural sugar, added to many processed foods, is difficult for many people to digest.
4. Dairy products can be a source of intestinal distress and bloating if you have trouble digesting lactose or milk sugar. However, buttermilk seems to be an exception.
5. Whole grains, recommended for their many health benefits, can sometimes cause bloating and gas problems.
6. Difficult-to-digest foods can cause gassiness and bloating. Eating rich and fatty food can make one feel uncomfortably stuffed. Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, so it keeps the stomach full longer.
Staying hydrated is essential to beat bloating. Always drink enough water. At least six to eight glasses of water per day is a must.
Stress and anxiety impact our digestion in a big way. We must adopt stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, prayer, listening to soothing music and spending more time doing things that we love.
If eliminating or reducing consumption of hard-to-digest foods doesn’t solve the problem of frequent bloating, try any of the following home remedies and Ayurvedic medicines for about two weeks.
1. Chew and swallow one teaspoon of fennel seeds (saunf) after every meal.
2. Take about half a teaspoon of carom (ajwain) seeds with warm water once a day.
3. Take a tablespoon of cumin (jeera) seeds and boil in two cups of water for 10-15 minutes. Drinking this ‘jeera water’ is a good natural remedy for curbing gas production.
4. Take a quarter to half teaspoonful each of asafoetida (hing) and rock salt (sendha namak) mixed in fresh buttermilk (chaach) after meals. This decoction is helpful in relieving bloating.
5. Half teaspoonful of fresh ginger juice along with one tsp of fresh lime juice after meals will help to avoid bloating. Ginger tea is also an effective remedy against gas.
1. Hingwashtak churna (Baidyanath) or Ashta churna (Kottakkal/Vaidyaratnam) — half teaspoonful thrice daily with half to one teaspoonful ghee along with a few morsels of food first.
2. If constipation is the cause of bloating take Triphala tablet (Himalaya/Zandu) — one or two tablets, twice daily, before meals for two to three weeks.
3. If indigestion is the cause, then take Trikatu tablet/syrup (Himalaya) — 1 tablet/5ml syrup, twice daily, after meals till the symptoms subside.
4. Gasex tablet (Himalaya)/Gaisantak bati (Baidyanath) — 2 tablets, thrice daily, after meals.
If, in spite of following all the above measures, bloating still persists it may be a signal of some potentially serious condition. Do consult your doctor.
Dr Srikanth is a postgraduate in Ayurveda and has been a consulting physician for the past 17 years. He is currently National Manager, Scientific Services, at The Himalaya Drug Company.