Stomach bloating: Tummy swelling may signal this serious condition
Stomach bloating is typically the result of eating too many gassy foods, which causes wind to clog up your gastrointestinal tract. While cutting out gassy items can help to alleviate alleviate symptoms, bloating can be the result of an underlying condition, which requires more drastic measures, such as overhauling one’s diet.
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If simple dietary tweaks are not providing any relief, bloating may signal a common digestive condition known as coeliac disease.
According to Coeliac UK, coeliac disease is a serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when you eat gluten.
This causes damage to the lining of the gut and means the body can’t properly absorb nutrients from food.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, mouth ulcers, sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases), and anaemia, notes the health body.
As the NHS explains, coeliac disease is caused by an adverse reaction to gluten, a dietary protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
These dietary proteins are found in any that contains the following:
- Breakfast cereals
- Most types of bread
- Certain types of sauces
- Some types of ready meals
- How to treat coeliac disease
There’s no cure for coeliac disease, but switching to a gluten-free diet should help control symptoms such as bloating and prevent the long-term consequences of the condition, according to the NHS.
Even if you have non-existent or mild symptoms, changing your diet is still recommended because continuing to eat gluten can lead to serious complications, warns the NHS.
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As Coeliac UK explains, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for the condition, and natural gluten-free foods include:
- Fruit and vegetables
According to the health body, some people feel significantly better within a few days of cutting out gluten but some people may see more of a gradual improvement in their symptoms or that one symptom improves before another.
Other causes of bloating
Research has also revealed that eating too much salt can also trigger bloating, and one study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology examined salt intake as a cause of bloating in the context of low and high-fibre diets.
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“Bloating is one of the leading gastrointestinal complaints in the U.S. and can be exacerbated in some people by a high-fibre diet; our results suggest that they might be able to reduce that bloating, without compromising on healthy fibre, by lowering their sodium intake,” said study senior author Noel Mueller, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School.
The scientists re-analysed data from a large clinical trial – the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension-Sodium trial (DASH-Sodium) – conducted two decades ago, and found that high sodium intake increased bloating among trial participants.
The DASH diet is a high-fibre diet which is relatively low in fat and high in fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
When comparing high and low sodium fibre diets, the researchers found that the high-sodium versions of those diets collectively increased the risk of bloating by about 27 percent compared to the low-sodium versions.
It is believed that salt causes bloating by attracting and retaining fluid in the body, causing the tummy to swell.
In addition to reducing salt intake, upping your intake of potassium-rich foods can also help to beat the bloat caused by eating too much salt, said TV doctor Dr Oz.
Potassium counters the negative effects of salt, helping to flush out the system and restore the healthy water balance.
Dr Oz added: “If your bloat is a result of yesterday’s salty dinner, try adding sliced banana to your morning oatmeal for some balance.”
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