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Centr Team

Is your bloating bad news for your health?

Centr Team

For many of us, bloating is something we just put up with. It’s that blergh feeling when your jeans feel tight, your stomach swells and energy levels hit rock bottom.

Bloating usually occurs after eating when gases accumulate in the digestive system. Ideally, these gases move through the body without a hitch, but sometimes they get stuck and cause our bellies to balloon.

If you start to feel that something isn't quite right with your digestion or you're ridiculously gassy, it could be your gut trying to tell you something. Symptoms can often be easily managed by a change in diet or lifestyle. But if your bloat ain’t budging, there could be underlying issues – critical ones.

Occasional bloating is absolutely normal – like after a big family barbeque or a few drinks. Gas is produced as a by-product of digestion. Regular exercise, diet changes and stress management are easy ways to reduce the discomfort. But if it doesn’t go away and is affecting your life, talk to your doctor.

Here are some possible underlying issues for persistent bloat and the signs you should keep an eye out for.

1. Constipation

If you’re struggling to release the hounds (or are having fewer weekly bowel movements than usual), digestive gasses can build up in your abdomen. If this sounds familiar, there are a few things you can do to help. Eat more fiber (such as fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes), up your water intake and exercise regularly to get things moving.

2. Celiac Disease

No, this is not just about being gluten intolerant. Celiac disease is when your immune system reacts abnormally to gluten and causes small bowel damage, flattening the tiny, finger-like projections which line the bowel. Besides severe bloating, other symptoms include diarrhea, bone and joint pains, vomiting and fatigue. People diagnosed with celiac disease need to avoid all traces of gluten, or they run the risk of serious health issues such as bowel cancer.

If you’ve got celiac, Centr has got your back (and belly!). We offer a range of delicious gluten-free recipes to keep you full, energized and happy.

3. Fructose Intolerance

Want someone to pass you a pin so you can pop your belly? It may not be the steak’s fault. Intolerances to foods such fructose can cause extreme bloating, nausea and pain. A fructose intolerance occurs when (you guessed it) your body cannot absorb fructose – a sugar found in many fruits, vegetables and processed foods. If you experience symptoms after eating sugar, a low-FODMAP diet could help.

An infographic explaining what each letter in the FODMAP acronym stands for.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (say trying that 10 times in a row) which are small carbohydrates that many people can’t digest.

4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When doctors can’t find a direct cause for your upset digestion, your gut issues might be classified as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, there are some common ‘triggers’ for IBS symptoms, such as infections like gastroenteritis, food intolerances/diet issues and medications. Even environmental factors such as stress and anxiety can trigger an episode of abdominal pain, cramping and bloating. Studies have shown that there’s a definitive brain-gut connection. The network of neurons in the gut is so vast and complex it’s been called the “second brain.” If your mind isn’t healthy, your body is going to feel it.

5. Ovarian Cancer

This diagnosis is unlikely, but it’s still safer to rule it out. Bloating alone isn’t enough to suggest cancer, but if you also suffer from pain or unusual bowel or urinary issues, have a chat with your doctor.

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