If you're struggling with uncomfortable bloating, these expert tips may help.
No matter what your bloated belly has been caused by, nutritionist Rick Hay explains some simple and easy steps you can take to try and alleviate a swollen stomach.
Take a salt bath
"The healing properties of Himalaya or Epsom Salt were discovered centuries ago and bathing in it is known to reduce water retention and tummy bloating," Rick explains. "Our skin is porous, so bathing in salt water can draw out toxins and excess fluids as rich and essential minerals are soaked in."
Go for a walk or do yoga
Gentle exercise such as yoga or taking a walk, can help stimulate the passage of gas through your digestive tract, Rick tells. "Gentle physical activity gets the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool," he adds.
"A recent German study examined the effects of walking at a leisurely pace on a treadmill after eating a large meal," Rick explains. "The researchers found that walking helps move food through the stomach much more quickly. When the stomach empties faster, gas is able to move more quickly into your small intestine and cause less distress."
Take a probiotic supplement
"Probiotics are live micro-organisms promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system," Rick explains. "They are commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria and are thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut."
Therefore, introducing this healthy bacteria may help to regulate the colon bacteria that can produce gas and cause bloating, Rick suggests.
Avoid processed food, sugar and dairy
Processed foods include any food that has been deliberately changed before you consume it. It often goes hand in hand with additives, artificial colours, sodium, bulking agents, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. "These bombard the digestive tract and can lead to bacterial imbalance in the gut and lead to a bloated belly," Rick explains.
"Too much sugar can lead to an imbalance of beneficial bacteria and non-beneficial bacteria and therefore, bloating," he adds. "Be aware that sugar alternatives such as sweeteners can also cause gas and bloating. Fructose, or fruit sugar, is added to many processed foods, can be difficult to digest for people and therefore - you guessed it - lead to bloating."
Rick also says that dairy products can also be a catalyst for intestinal distress. "About 75 per cent of the world's population can't break down lactose. In case you are unsure if you are one of them, it is safer to avoid dairy and ask your doctor for a food sensitivity test," he says.
Take digestive enzymes
"Digestive enzymes are substances produced by our bodies that help us digest and break down the foods we eat," Rick explians. "Without sufficient digestive enzymes, your body is unable to break down food properly, potentially leading to digestive disorders."
Basically, different enzymes break down specific food types, so if your body has a hard time producing any of these enzymes, nutrients may not be absorbed as efficiently, which might impair digestion and lead to bloating, Rick adds.
While digestive enzymes occur naturally in your body, Rick says they can also be found in different foods and supplements if you find you need to help the digestion process along.