Who has not felt their belly swollen some or many times? After certain meals, it seems that our clothes are tighter than before we put them on, that we need to undo the button on our pants, and we are even more irritable, our intestinal rhythm is altered, and all this makes us feel uncomfortable. The dietitians-nutritionists of Alimmenta (members of the College of Dietitians-Nutritionists) propose solutions in this article to improve your digestion through healthy eating.

Do you need personalised attention?

At the Alimmenta Clinic, you will find a team of dietitians-nutritionists, endocrine doctors and nutrition specialist psychologists who will help you achieve your weight and health goals. We can assist you at our Clinic in Barcelona or online through videoconferences. 

the swollen belly

abdominal distention, swollen belly, or abdominal distension is a digestive system problem that can occur both in people with low or adequate weight and with overweight or obesity (according to the BMI). However, swelling is more evident in people who are not overweight. Women are the ones who most refer to this problem, but it is not exclusive to the female sex. In many cases, it is due to a digestive problem usually solved with a change in diet. 

Causes and solutions

The causes that can cause a swollen belly are not the same for everyone. Here are the most frequent:

Food intolerances: some people cannot digest specific food components, such as intolerance to lactose, fructose, sorbitol, gluten, etc. Unable to be digested, they continue their way through the intestine and are the food of different intestinal bacteria causing abdominal pain, diarrhoea and gas accumulation. 

Solution: put yourself in the hands of a doctor specialising in the digestive system who will carry out the necessary tests to verify intolerance and a dietician-nutritionist who will give you some guidelines so that when you eliminate certain foods from your diet, you do not have nutritional deficits.

Irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease: are part of the so-called inflammatory bowel diseases characterised by damaging the intestine, altering its functioning and causing diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling and gas accumulation.

Solution: as in the case of food intolerances, a good diagnosis and advice from a dietician-nutritionist who guides the ideal diet in each case are essential.

Dyspepsia: they are discomfort or pain in the upper part of the abdomen accompanied by nausea, abdominal swelling, heartburn, slow digestion, early satiety, belching, regurgitation and vomiting.

Solution: eat slowly and small amounts of food more daily, avoid excess fat in meals, lose weight if necessary and abstain from alcohol.

Excess or lack of fibre in the diet: fibre is the main component of stool and must be taken in its proper measure. Thus, an excess of fibre can increase intestinal transit and cause diarrhoea, and conversely, a lack of fibre decreases intestinal transit and causes constipation. Both situations cause abdominal swelling, gas and abdominal pain.

Solution: consume whole grains, fruits and vegetables daily, ensuring 1.5-2 litres of water per day, without forgetting to include legumes at least 2 to 3 times a week. Be careful! Introduce foods rich in fibre progressively so that our body gradually gets used to them and does not form a plug.

Solution:

  1. Avoid the consumption of flatulent vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, peppers), hot bread, pasta or vegetables al dente, artificial sweeteners (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol), carbonated or carbonated drinks (soft drinks, water with gas) and alcoholic beverages.
  2. Take the legumes without skin or through the food mill (creams, purees, hummus).
  3. Do not eat copious meals rich in fat, eat slowly, chew well and with your mouth closed, avoid talking while eating and do not drink through a straw or take sips from the surface of a hot drink.

Rupture of the abdominal muscles: it can also be a cause in some cases. The forces cannot contain the abdominal mass and cause “gut”. It can be due to pregnancy, rapid weight loss or a tendency to flaccidity.

Solution: make physical activity part of your daily life and avoid excess weight by controlling your diet.

Personalised recommendations for the swollen belly

Suppose you need personalised attention to solve your bloating problems at Alimmenta. In that case, you will find a team of dietitians-nutritionists and endocrine doctors who will help you solve your swollen abdomen problems through a personalised diet and changing habits.

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