Bloating and Indigestion
Feeling bloated? Got an upset stomach?
Many individuals shy away from conversations that revolve around bloating and indigestion. However, our team of accredited practising dietitians and registered nutritionists here at New Life Nutrition love discussing them!
If you experience symptoms of these two gut health issues, know that our nutritionists and dietitians are here to help you. Our team of gut health experts have worked closely with the FAILSAFE support group and have helped many Brisbane patients cope with their bloating and indigestion issues. Give us a call to book your appointment with our friendly and professional experts today!
What is Bloating?
Bloating is a condition marked by a swollen stomach. You feel bloated when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas. Bloating makes you feel full, tight, and uncomfortable. Sometimes, it can also be painful.
When you feel bloated, it’s as if you ate a full meal and there’s no more room for it in your stomach. You may notice your stomach looks bigger when you are bloated.
Symptoms of bloating include abdominal pain and/or swelling, stomach cramps, and a sensation of knots in your stomach.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating has several causes. Some are gut health conditions, while the others involve other parts of the body and lifestyle changes:
- Constipation: This condition occurs when you have difficulty passing stools, most likely because of hardened faeces. When you strain to begin or end your bowel movement, excrete stool which resembles rocks and pebbles, and when you don’t feel empty after defecating, you may have constipation. The longer your stool sits in your colon, the more you’ll feel gassy and bloated.
- Gut sensitivity: If you have a sensitive gut or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), your sensitivity to gas may cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, and cramping.
- Gastroparesis: When you have this condition, your stomach takes a longer time to empty itself. This can result in bloating, nausea, and bowel blockage.
- Gynecological issues: Experts believe issues with your ovaries or uterus may also cause bloating.
- Swallowed air: Chewing gum, smoking, or eating too fast may make you swallow too much air, which may cause bloating.
- Weight gain: Some studies reveal gaining weight can increase your chances of experiencing bloating.
How Can I Avoid Bloating?
Your first line of defence against bloating is to avoid engaging in activities or habits that put in extra amounts of air in your stomach. This includes eating chewing gum, eating too fast, talking while eating, and smoking.
You can also reduce the effects of bloating by going on a low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) diet. When you limit your consumption of foods high in FODMAPs such as wheat, garlic, onions, beans, legumes, milk, yoghurt, ice cream, honey, apricots, chewing gum, and candies, you lower your chances of having gas that could trigger your IBS flare-up.
If constipation is the reason behind your bloating, then following a high-fibre diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly should help. However, in certain cases, chronic constipation, IBS, and gastroparesis may require medical intervention.
What is Indigestion?
Indigestion or dyspepsia is recurring pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen. It is not a disease or disorder, but a set of different symptoms of abdominal discomfort.
Symptoms of indigestion include:
- A burning sensation in the upper abdomen or esophagus
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Acidic taste in the mouth
- Excessive belching and gas
- Feeling very full after eating a regular meal or before finishing it
- Nausea and vomiting
- Growling stomach
What Causes Indigestion?
Like bloating, indigestion has several causes. These include:
- Overeating or eating too fast
- Eating fatty, greasy, and spicy foods
- Lying down immediately after eating
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Stress and fatigue
- Side effects of certain medications such as painkillers, estrogen and oral contraceptives, steroid medications, certain antibiotics, and thyroid medicines.
- Certain medical conditions including ulcers, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), gastroparesis, stomach infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic pancreatitis, and thyroid disease
How Can I Avoid Indigestion?
You can avoid indigestion by making specific dietary and lifestyle modifications such as:
- Steering clear of acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
- Minimising your consumption of, or avoiding caffeine altogether.
- Eating smaller meals to reduce your stomach’s workload.
- Eating slowly.
- Quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol consumption as they can irritate your stomach’s lining.
- Learning how to manage stress (e.g., doing relaxation techniques, meditating, and the like).
- Refraining from wearing tight-fitting clothes because they can compress your stomach and cause its contents to go back up to your oesophagus.
- Giving your stomach enough time to digest the food you ate by resting for an hour before exercising.
- Not lying down immediately after eating.
- Using pillows to prop your head at least 15 centimetres higher than your feet to allow digestive juices to flow into your intestines.
Are Bloating and Indigestion Common?
Yes, bloating and indigestion are common conditions that affect a lot of individuals. Research shows more than a quarter of the general population experience bloating symptoms, and anywhere from 10 to 15% have GORD, which triggers indigestion. However, these two are sensitive topics which people don’t discuss openly.
Do Bloating and Indigestion Have Serious Effects on My Health?
Bloating isn’t a serious health condition. However, if your bloating persists along with another health issue such as diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain, blood in your stools, unexplained weight loss, and loss of appetite, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
On the other hand, indigestion could be a sign of a more serious health issue. These include gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), ulcers, or gallbladder disease. If your indigestion lasts for more than two weeks or you show symptoms such as bleeding, weight loss or difficulty swallowing, call your doctor immediately.
We’re Here to Help You Manage Your Bloating & Indigestion
Our team can help identify the root causes of your bloating and indigestion and guide you in managing their symptoms. Once we’ve determined the causes behind your bloating and indigestion, we will help you formulate an easy-to-follow, practical, and personalised lifestyle program that will reduce the frequency and severity of your bloating and indigestion so you can experience a better quality of life.