Why do I feel bloated?

Feeling bloated is caused by inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, and occurs when irritants, pathogens and damaged cells are recognised. The body will respond by trying to heal itself and defend against harm.

Just as you can recognise when you eat something that irritates your digestive system, you will feel and look ‘bloated’. Inflammation can happen on the outside and inside of your body.

The symptoms of inflammation are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Immobility
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Causes of inflammation:

  • Diet – General bad diet, food allergies or sensitivities, imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your digestive system
  • Foreign invaders – Virus, disease and infection
  • Irritation – Abrasions and cuts, external irritants like environmental pollutants
  • Intense exercise – Muscles become inflamed after use
  • Lack of sleep – Interrupts the body’s healing process and heightens levels of inflammation

Why can inflammation be bad?

Foods can cause an inflammatory response in your gut, affecting your whole digestive system and causing problems. When there is inflammation in the intestines, toxins are released into the bloodstream, making your body think there is a foreign intruder and starts to attack it.

Unhealthy or indigestible food entering your system is like a virus that triggers your immune response to act, which is where the bloated and sore tummy comes from. Many people respond badly to things like gluten, dairy, or fat and sugar, and may even have intolerances to them.

Here are some of the foods you could stay clear from that could possibly cause an inflammatory affect:

  • Sugar
  • Processed and refined grains (white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, crackers, biscuits)
  • Artificial food additives (aspartame, MSG, food colourings)
  • Common cooking oils (polyunsaturated vegetable oils)
  • Trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • Processed and feedlot-raised meat

While these foods can cause inflammation, there’s some that help to reduce it! Try including more of the following foods into your diet, and see if it makes a difference to how you feel.

Turmeric – An amazing kind of food known for its healing power for reducing inflammation in the body. You can add it to juices or smoothies, curries, or a seasoning for your chicken. Try a turmeric latte with coconut milk.  Use it as a main ingredient in my warm apple cider drink in the mornings to prepare the digestive system before eating.

Omega 3s – Found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. If you don’t eat fish, there are supplements you can take, including flaxseed oil that is high in omega 3 fats.

Whole Grains – Brown rice, oats, spelt, or quinoa are all whole grains good for your body. Stay clear of refined and processed grain.

Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach and kale are both great to include in your diet, for not just their anti-inflammation properties, but their overall goodness. They are full of vitamin E which helps to fight the molecules responsible for inflammation.

Always seek medical advice before dietary changes. 

Written by Alice Peat, from the Acresfield Fitness team.