Abdominal bloating – BY Harold Gunatilake

bloatingWe all at some stage or other, frequently or less frequently feel bloated and tight in our abdomens. It is mainly due to build-up of gas in the tummy and the small gut and due to disturbances in the movement of the smooth muscles in the small gut.

On feeling your stomach, it feels distended and most times you may have colicky pains and discomfort.

Some people have more flatulence and bloating than others. They pass more gas, or you could call it breaking wind. Healthy people do it between 14 to 23 times each day.

If you pass wind more than the typical person, you may wonder what’s going on in your gut and whether it’s a symptom of a more serious health condition.

Excess bloating and flatulence could be due to harmless causes such as swallowing air, eating gas producing foods and drinks, anxiety, childbirth and effects of aging. Those who chew chewing gum habitually gets bloating due to swallowing of air. If you keep on talking while you eat, you tend to swallow more air that will cause bloating.

In most situations it is food that causes the bloating, especially over-eating.

Sometimes, drinking milk can cause bloating. Lactose present in milk is a carbohydrate, and intolerance to lactose can cause bloating. People intolerant to lactose are unable to digest lactose due to the absence of lactase enzyme produced by the cells that lines the walls of the small gut, that normally breaks down lactose.

Eating foods made of wheat like bread or gluten can cause food intolerance and cause bloating.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, semolina, rye, and barley. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as glue.

Most people tolerate gluten just fine. But people having celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy can cause bloating.

Eating too much of fructose in fruits or fruit sugar can cause bloating or gas. Apples, pears and mangoes are high in fructose and may produce gas.

Berries, citrus fruits like lemons and oranges and bananas have less fructose, so they are less likely to cause gas.

Some healthy foods can cause bloating, especially foods that are loaded with gas such as beans and lentils, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, onions, cauliflower Beans are extremely good for our health but producing excess gas can cause a problem.

Packaged food can cause bloating.

Carbonated drinks such as sparkling mineral water, champagne, are full of bubbles that can make you bloat.

As you get up in the morning you may feel that you stomach is not bloating. As you eat different kinds of food during the day can cause bloating.

If you often feel bloated after a meal, don’t be too quick to blame high-fibre foods.
The real culprit could be the extra salt in your food.

“Sodium reduction is an important dietary intervention to reduce bloating symptoms and could be used to enhance compliance with healthful high-fiber diets,” said study researcher Noel Mueller, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Eating more salt can promote water retention and make digestion less efficient, which can lead DehydrationDehydration is also considered as a cause of bloating. Drink plenty of water, unsweetened cranberry juice, grapefruit juices, you may add ginger into any of these drinks to help as a cure for bloating.

Avoid artificial sweetenersIf you have any belly pain, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation, and feeling tired,exhausted, depressed and have headaches more frequently, then you must considersuch symptoms needs help from your doctor for further investigations.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Bloating affects as many as a third of Americans, including more than 90% of those with irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a painful build-up of excess gas created as gut bacteria break down fibre during digestion.

These symptom complex just describes could be irritable bowel syndrome. Doctors  do investigate the disease by performing endoscopy, blood and stool examination and so on, and all tests are negative, the label IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is given.

There is no treatment for permanent cure, but symptoms can be relieved by medication and change of diet.

Gut microbiota related causes of bloating are a new finding. 70% of your immune system is in the gut, so gut bacteria or as we call them microbiota play an important role. So, bloating or interruption of normal digestive function may be due to decreased good bacteria and you may end up with excess gas and a distended tummy.

Eating too fast can cause bloating.

Your stomach is approximately the same size as your fist, and it stretches when you eat. If you eat too much you feel uncomfortable and bloated.

Enjoy meals at the dining room at home and at restaurants, and you tend to eat less due to chit chats with friends whilst eating.

Avoid watching TV while you eat, as it disturbs your enzyme digestion of food and may cause bloating.

Be mindful when you eat, and your body signs will after you when you are full.

Eating salty food can cause increased gas production because of water retention.

Eating junk foods starting from sweets and certain desserts, such as cakes, or donuts, fast foods that are filled with fats such as burgers and pizzas can cause bloating Alcohol, and certain kinds of sodas and carbonated drinks can cause bloating.

According to the Gastroenterology Organization (WGO), tens of millions of people across the globe are affected by digestive disorders to cause bloating and other
symptoms mentioned.

It is possible that IBS is caused due to lack or the presence of certain bacteria in your gut. Very soon the research that is been done will find the microbes that influences gut disorders like IBS, and other causes of bloating.

Constipation cause bloating
If you miss a bowel movement, you may feel bloated. Foods like ice cream, cheese, fast foods that are processed, prepared fried or high in fat can cause constipation
To help you avoid excess gas and bloating according to a report published recently
in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the recommendations are:
• Increase physical activity.
• Limit highly processed foods, such as fast food, frozen meals, junk food and
fried food.
• Increase your fluid intake and make peppermint tea part of it. Avoid
carbonated beverages.
• Eat more foods that are rich in fibre, such as vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Increase these slowly and in small portions and be sure to increase your fluid intake at the same time.
• Have smaller meals.


Indians and Sri Lankans drink ‘Rasam’ soup made with tamarind, tomatoes and other spices like mustard, cumin, and pepper.

This ‘My Mother’s Rasam seem to have a carminative effect and prevent bloating,
even after you enjoy a calorie-dense “Biriyani”
Most Sri Lankan restaurants in Colombo and other provincial towns serve rasam soup and do not forget to enjoy this soup when you next visit Sri Lanka.

We had this soup followed by Biriyani, at the Oak-Ray Flower Drum restaurant in Colombo, and it was exquisite, and no bloating or stomach disturbances experienced after.

Tragedy in Sri Lanka

Despite the recent tragedy, Sri Lanka remains an incredible place to visit as
highlighted in ‘Lonely Planet.
The island is peaceful and do visit with no hesitation.
Hope you enjoyed this film

Read More →