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Bloating is a symptom typical of many diseases or disorders of the digestive system. This is an unpleasant feeling of excessive abdominal tension, an expression of a gaseous accumulation in the stomach and intestines. The bloated belly – often recognized by flatulence – is usually accompanied by alterations in the frequency of evacuation (constipation or diarrhea), abdominal cramps, bloating and eruptions.
Why do I have a bloated stomach?
Often bloated belly is a passing symptom, caused, for example, by too much abundant or consumed meal or by weight gain. At times, instead, abdominal swelling is a symptom of physiological phenomena, such as premenstrual syndrome and menopause. In other cases, bloated belly hides most important pathologies, such as appendicitis, colon and ovarian cancer, gallstones, cystic fibrosis, viral / bacterial gastroenteritis, food intolerance (e.g. celiac disease), irritable bowel syndrome etc..
The published material is intended to allow quick access to general advice, suggestions and remedies that doctors and textbooks are used to dispense with the treatment of the bloated stomach; these instructions should in no way replace the opinion of the treating physician or other healthcare specialists in the patient care sector.
How to get rid of bloating: the most effective tips
Things to do
- Pay particular attention to the correct combination of foods is an excellent remedy to ‘swallow’ the bloated belly faster
- In the case of lactose intolerance, the only effective remedy to prevent belly swelling is to remove all lactose-containing foods from the diet
- In case of gluten intolerance, follow a gluten-free diet is the only food remedy to reduce the symptoms of pathological condition (including bloated belly)
- Lose weight. Gaining a few pounds can cause an unpleasant feeling of abdominal tension
- Eat slowly and moderately
- Include yogurt in your diet, preferably with live lactic ferments or a probiotic in the case of antibiotic therapy (useful for the treatment of bacterial gastroenteritis-related flatulence)
- Keep a fair amount of fiber and a good level of hydration (drink at least 2 liters of water per day)
- In the absence of lumbar-sacral pathologies such as lumbago, hernias, etc., a good remedy for attenuating flatulence is ‘training the belly’ by exercises with a stick. The exercise consists of tilting the trunk forward, turning from right to left (and vice versa) with a stick that rests behind your head over your shoulders
- Reduce stress. Even if discounted, reducing daily tensions is an excellent remedy to relieve abdominal swelling due to excessive stress.
- Follow yoga classes, pilates or any other form of relaxation.
- Practicing constant physical activity: Sport is a particularly effective remedy for both mood and relieving belly swelling.
- Contact your doctor immediately if, together with abdominal swelling, other potentially serious symptoms such as high fever, severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, increased abdominal pain in palpation.
- If necessary, take non-absorbable antibiotics that exert their re-equilibrating action on the bacterial flora at the enteric level without being absorbed by the intestine
- Do not talk while eating
Things not to do
- Overeat. Big bites are the worst enemies of the bloated belly
- Follow an unbalanced diet regime, characterized by excesses, hyperlipid foods and ‘junk’ foods
- Abuse of heteropolysaccharide-based laxatives (fibers): these products (including herbal remedies) swell at gastro-intestinal tract, favoring bloated belly
- Lie down immediately after the meal
- Drink soft drinks
- Chewing a gum or sucking too much candy can favor abdominal swelling
- Drinking with straw or sipping the surface of a hot beverage can increase the bloated belly’s sense of bloating. With this practce, in fact, air is unknowingly ingested
- Combine many foods together (e.g. pasta, meat, fish and sweets)
- Leading a sedentary life
- Leave unattended depression, anxiety and stress accentuate abdominal tension
- Smoke during meals
Things to eat
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables for the sake of antioxidant vitamins contained therein
- If necessary, check hunger by preferring whole-grain (pasta, rice) and fiber-rich foods
- Grant a sugary fruit away from meals, as these foods favor the fermentation of foods to which they are associated
- Associate protein with vegetables (not fried)
- Add fennel to your ration favors the expulsion of gases
- Mint: decreases fermentation and bloated belly
- Apple: it intervenes in the regulation of intestinal fermentation
- Blueberry: those have anti-fermentative properties
Things not to eat
- Avoid the consumption of foods that are difficult to digest, such as slices, fries, spicy foods and fatty foods
- Avoid (or limit) the consumption of foods that can cause bloating, such as legumes: chick peas, lentils, peas, beans, green beans
- Cabbages, onions, aubergines, yeasts, carrots
- Milk and dairy products: limiting the consumption of milk and derivatives is an excellent remedy to relieve or prevent abdominal swelling in lactose-intolerant subjects
- Soft drinks, sweets and artificial sweeteners: fermenting at the intestines, these foods favor or aggravate the perceived bloated belly
- Such combos as ‘milk + eggs’ as well as ‘legumes + meat’ are not recommended in the case of bloated belly
- Complex foods (which, by forcing the gastrointestinal tract to a super digestive process, slow down digestion)
- Whipped cream, milkshake, shakes, mayonnaise and puff pastry (containing air, so they can aggravate the feeling of bloated belly)
- Soft bread
Natural remedies for bloating
Coal – vegetable, animal, compound and medicated – constitutes the most well-known and effective herbal remedy to counteract non-pathological bloated belly. Coal is the only substance able to adsorb the gases. It boasts extraordinary adsorptive properties that incorporate over-ingested air with power. Carminative vegetables also help to reduce the abdominal swelling that marks flatulence.
Unlike carbon, these drugs exert their own therapeutic action against bloated belly by eliminating (and not adsorpting) gases:
- Cumin has carminative, digestive and antimicrobial properties
- Anise (Pimpinella anisum) has carminative, digestive and antimicrobial properties
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has stimulating action on the motility of the stomach and intestine, anti-fermentative activity
- Angelica (Angelica Archangelica L) has spasmolytic, procinetic and carminative activities
- Mint (Mentha piperita) has Spasmolytic, digestive, antiseptic properties
- Melissa (Melissa officinalis) has relaxing, digestive, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic properties
- Camomile (Chamomilla recutita) has spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial
It is not always necessary to use pharmacological specialties to remedy your bloated belly. More often than not, it is sufficient to follow a healthy and balanced diet, associated with regular sports practice.
However, some patients resort to medication, which should always be taken with moderation and common sense, with medical advice / prescription:
- Parasepatic-mimetic drugs (muscarinic agonists): By favoring peristalsis, these drugs speed up the time of intestinal gas removal
- Betanechol (e.g. Myocholine)
- Anti-foam and anti-acid drugs:
- Dimethicone (e.g. Simecrin, Meteosim)
- Probiotic supplements: useful remedy in the event of bloated belly. Being able to regularize intestinal activity, these drugs favor the onset of symbionte bacterial flora
Generally, no specific medical treatments are needed to remedy abdominal swelling.
However, the patient suffering from bloated belly may be subjected to targeted medical intervention in the following circumstances:
- Intestinal obstruction: requires surgical treatment consisting in removing all intestinal parts in necrosis
- Colon / ovary cancer: requires radio / chemotherapy and / or surgical treatment
- Appendices: requires appendicectomy
- Gallbladder calculations: requires cholecystectomy
Prevention of bloating
The best remedy for bloated belly care is prevention. In the absence of underlying diseases, it is possible to prevent bloated belly simply by following a healthy and balanced dietary diet, respecting what is dictated by food education and regularly exercising. Adopting a proper respiratory technique (see abdominal breathing) can help reduce swelling due to the intestinal massage constantly exercised by the diaphragm during respiratory acts.
Vegetable carbon, a natural remedy for bloating available over the counter
Vegetable carbon, also called activated charcoal or activated carbon, is a powder obtained for the processing of timber and its waste. Wood – which can belong to different species (poplar, willow, birch, etc.) or be replaced by sawdust, shells and fruit kernels – is subjected to flame-free combustion (heats at high temperatures – 500/600 ° C – in a poor atmosphere of oxygen). Carbon thus obtained is then treated to give it the characteristic porosity, which greatly increases the adsorption surface, making it particularly useful in the medical-pharmaceutical sector. The result is a powder, very fine, extremely porous, odorless and tasteless.
Vegetable carbon is used as antitumor due to the ability to adsorb and retain most of the poisons by forming a complex that is eliminated from the digestive tract without being absorbed. The administration of vegetable carbon, followed by that of a saline cleanser to eliminate the complex originates, is, for example, a classic intervention strategy in the case of mushroom poisoning. It is mainly used in the treatment of acute oral poisoning for its ability to reduce the systemic absorption of ingested substances. It is not an effective antidote to poisoning iron salts, cyanides, malathion and some organic solvents such as methanol or ethylene glycol; Is ineffective against the action of corrosive acids and caustic alcohols.
Vegetable carbon is also used in dietary preparation for some clinical examinations (upper abdominal ultrasound) to adsorb intestinal gases that would prevent proper interpretation. Liquid, hydrogen and gas adsorptive properties make vegetable carbon a particularly useful supplement in the presence of aerofagia, diarrhea, flatulence and bloating, thanks also to the mild disinfectant effect on the intestine. Clinical utility is however controversial because it is not necessary to forget its ability to adsorb not only excess gas and liquids, but also medications (which should not be taken within the range of 30 minutes before and 2 hours later).
Your doctor can appoint carbon therapy in case of: intestinal problems, abdominal dilations, gas, difficult digestion, bad breath, aerophagia, flatulence, dyspepsia with gastric and intestinal fermentations, gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, diarree, diarrhea putrid, colitis, food poisoning, alkaloids, phosphorus and arsenic poisoning.
The term ‘adsorb’ means to adhere individual molecules to a given surface, while an absorbent medium, such as a sponge, is soaked with such substances. Vegetable carbon thus has the ability to retain on its surface liquid, gas, bacteria, pathogens, toxins and viruses in the gastrointestinal tract. These properties depend on the high surface area due to the presence of a huge number of microscopic pores, which imprison particles (ions and molecules) of the substance to which it is in contact.
In addition to directly adsorbing intestinal gases, vegetable carbon also retains some of the bacteria that produce them (mild ‘disinfectant’ action). In addition, vegetable charcoal has adsorbed and non-carminative properties; In fact, this last term is reserved for all those products that promote the expulsion of intestinal gases (e.g. mint, which also has a precious antiperspirant effect, fennel, cumin and anise).
The properties of vegetable carbon are widely used in the industrial sector (also thanks to its ability to regenerate if heat treated) thanks to the colorless and purifying activity in general; Active carbons are present, for example, in water filters or in anti-gas masks.
Vegetable carbon is not absorbed by gastrointestinal mucous membranes, nor does it show toxic effects nor irritates the intestine, but should not be taken in the event of lesions of the digestive tract. Doses that are too high and used for too long can cause a contagious effect. The appearance of black stools after the intake of vegetable carbon has no pathological significance. Vegetable carbon is however contraindicated in the presence of intestinal obstruction or appendicitis.
Vegetable carbon may reduce the absorption of certain drugs if taken at the same time. It should not be used concomitantly with other oral contraceptives, as it would outweigh its effectiveness; For the same reasons it should not be associated with the hepatic acid empathy syndrome or other emetics.
The usual recommended doses for anti-fermentative and anti-flatulence use are about 1/2 grams per day (2-4 capsules to be taken away from meals). In the case of flatulence, aerophagia and bloating, the association of vegetable charcoal with vegetables or extracts with carminative action, such as fennel, cumin and coriander, has been shown to be effective.