Most people (80%) suffer some kind of digestive discomfort from time to time, and further research has shown that 40% of people suffering are unaware it is not normal and so do nothing to try and improve it despite the impact on their wellbeing and quality of life.
The most common feelings of discomfort are
- Feeling full and bloated
- Feeling heavy
- Distended/bigger belly
We’ve all experienced an evening of excess, when we’ve eaten too much and feel a bit uncomfortable, however a feeling of a tight, bloated tummy is not normal digestive behaviour.
A bloated tummy can be caused by trapped excess wind, constipation, swallowing too much air, food intolerance (such as the milk sugar lactose) or sometimes a condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is also more common if you are overweight and other contributing factors include; stress, bad eating habits and different foods.
If you have bloating as well as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or weight loss, visit your doctor.
Constipation affects twice as many women as men. If you are constipated you might not be going to the toilet as often as usual (less than 3 times a week), you might need to strain or feel like you cannot empty your bowels as much as you need. Your poo can be hard, and lumpy, large or small.
Stress, dehydration, lack of fibre and medication are all common triggers. It can be difficult to identify one cause with constipation but all of the following have an influence:
- Not having enough fruit, vegetables and cereals in your daily diet
- A recent change to your routine or lifestyle
- Stress and anxiety
- Lack of privacy when using the toilet
- Ignoring the urge to pass stools (easy to do if you’re leading a busy life)
- Lack of exercise
- Not drinking enough water
- Medication (including diuretics and iron supplements)
If these changes don’t help your constipation please consult with your doctor.
It may be embarrassing but flatulence is completely normal. As we break down carbohydrates and proteins our body naturally produces wind which we have to expel. However, if you experience a lot of wind, pass a lot each time or find your wind always smells then you can make a difference by just adopting a few good diet and lifestyle habits.
If we swallow more air than usual or eat food our body finds hard to digest, we can become full of wind. Constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can also trigger flatulence.