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Is bloating sometimes a problem for you?  It can cause pain and discomfort for many people but luckily there are some natural strategies that you can put in place to help keep the bloat away.  Read on to learn more.

What is Bloating?

Abdominal bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels full and tight.  It is also known as distension.  There are different types of bloating – continuous distension is a serious bloating problem while intermittent distension refers to a series of bloating occurring at different times.

Causes of Bloating

There are several things that can cause bloating.  The most common cause is excessive intestinal gas.  Some other common causes include:

• overeating
• food allergies
• food intolerances
• aerophagia (the swallowing of air – nervous habit)
• irritable bowel syndrome
• partial bowel obstruction
• gastric dumping syndrome or rapid gastric emptying
• gas-producing foods
• constipation
• visceral fat
• splenic-flexure syndrome
• menstruation and dysmenorrhea
• polycystic ovarian syndrome and ovarian cysts
• intestinal parasites
• diverticulosis

Foods and Bloating

To reduce bloating, it may be helpful to reduce the amount of gas-producing foods that you eat.  Such foods include:

• Broccoli
• Baked beans
• Brussels sprouts
• Cabbage
• Cauliflower
• Carbonated drinks
• Chewing gum
• Hard candy
• Lettuce
• Fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears
• Onions
• Soft cheese
• Milk
• Ice cream
• Corn
• Wheat

Food intolerances are a major cause of bloating, with lactose intolerance being one of the worst culprits.  If you suspect that a food intolerance may be the cause of your bloating problems, you can undertake an elimination or challenge diet under the supervision of a nutritionist, dietician or other practitioner.  These diets are designed to identify the foods that you are intolerant to.  Once these are identified, it is a matter of avoiding the foods as much as is possible.  Ensure that you are getting the nutrients that you would otherwise be getting from these foods from other sources.

Probiotics are excellent for people that suffer from bloating problems.  Probiotics are helpful organisms that help to replace the good bacteria in your intestinal tract.  These good bacteria inhibit the growth of disease-causing microorganisms such as bad bacteria, yeasts, and parasite, as well as restoring normal bowel function and promoting regularity.  Therefore, consuming probiotics can help to eliminate some of the causes of bloating, bringing you relief.

Salt is a major player in bloating as foods that are high in salt can cause or worse abdominal bloating and water retention.  Cut down on the amount of salt in your diet. Use other seasonings to add flavour to your food and take the salt shakers off the table so that you are not tempted to add more.  Avoid processed foods as these are often high in salt.

Vitamin B6 acts like a mild diuretic and 25 to 50 milligrams a day could help to alleviate abdominal bloating.  However, be cautious with the amount that you take as you should never take more than 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day.

Herbal Medicine and Bloating

There are several herbs that can help with bloating.  These include:

• Centaury – taken before meals, it can improve digestion and prevent bloating.
• Chamomile – the bitter properties stimulate the gastric juices ad relieve gas.
• Fennel – is one of the best digestive aids and it is fantastic for relieving abdominal cramps, gas, and bloating.  Fennel is both anti-gas and anti-spasmodic.
• Mints – members of the mint family such as peppermint, spearmint, sage, and basil ease gas and bloating and improve digestion.

Activated Charcoal and Bloating

Activated charcoal can help to relieve gas and reduce bloating.  You can take it in tablet form before and after meals.  However, it should not be taken by people on contraceptive pills or other medication ad it should not be used on a long term basis.


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