Stomach bloating describes what happens when too much gas fills up a person’s gastrointestinal tract. Feeling like the belly is about to burst is a commonly reported complaint. For some people, simply cutting down on gassy culprits can help to soothe tummy swelling. For others, however, the root cause of their bloating may require a different strategy.
As Dr Brewer, medical director of Healthspan, explained: “Symptoms may be related to insufficient production of bile which is needed to break down dietary fats before they can be absorbed.”
If a person’s bloating is being triggered by insufficient bile production, Dr Brewer recommended taking Artichoke tablets.
“Artichoke tablets stimulate bile production and can quickly relieve bloating,” she said.
Artichoke is also an effective antidote when bloating and indigestion is due to overly spicy food or drinking alcohol, she added.
Growing evidence supports the case for taking artichoke extract.
A study involving 247 people with indigestion determined that consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for six weeks reduced symptoms, such as flatulence and uncomfortable feelings of fullness, compared to not taking artichoke leaf extract.
According to Holland and Barrett, people are recommended to take one one to two capsules daily, preferably with a meal.
Do not exceed stated dose, said the health body.
Other natural treatments include drinking peppermint, ginger or fennel tea, taking probiotic supplements or Aloe vera, said Dr Brewer.
“If bloating is due to constipation, increasing your fibre and fluid intake and taking magnesium supplements can help,” she added.
Dr Gall also recommended upping fibre intake but added: “A diet high in fibre such as that of vegans and vegetarians can also cause bloating as it produces gas and also increases the stool transit time and volume, particularly if it’s not sugarless.”
According to Dr Gall, cutting down on fatty foods can also help to beat the bloat. “Meat and animal fat causes constipation and implicit bloating,” she said.
It may come as a surprise that artificial sweeteners can trigger bloating too.
Artificial sweeteners are frequently found in many reduced-calorie foods, processed products, and diet or decaffeinated drinks.
As Dr Oz explained: “They contain chemical compounds called sucralose, aspartame, and cyclamate that the digestive tract cannot break down easily.
“Sweeteners, which can be up to 300 times sweeter than natural sugar, are known to increase appetite and result in overeating.”
He advised steering clear of sweeteners to reduce the risk of tummy swelling.