Sometimes, getting a flat stomach does not depend on dieting. No matter how thin it is, sometimes the gut appears swollen and although the scale indicates the correct weight, the dreaded balloon effect makes us uncomfortable and complicates any situation. In most cases, the excess of gases that swell us and make us gain one more size is due to a simple aerophagia, that is, "to swallow air in an unconscious way, to an exaggerated sensitivity to normal amounts of gas in the abdomen or to the poor digestion of some foods", explain from the Infanta Elena University Hospital in Madrid. It is what is known as dyspepsia, a problem that generates "general discomfort and heaviness after meals and that can be accompanied by heartburn and abdominal pain," says Víctor Escrich Iturbe, assistant doctor of the digestive service of the San Pedro Hospital in La Rioja.
"It is a discomfort that is closely related to our dietary habits, although it may also be due to the intake of some medications and drugs, among which are anti-inflammatories -such as ibuprofen-, acetylsalicylic acid -the popular aspirin-, some antibiotics and corticosteroids, "says Escrich Iturbe, although to a greater extent they can appear "with copious meals , very spicy, coffee, carbonated drinks, alcohol and tobacco." Because the swollen belly, gas, the feeling of heaviness during and after the meal, burning and acidity are usually the symptoms of poor digestion, a problem that affects at some point in their lives between 30% and 40% of the population, according to data published by the Health Service of La Rioja, "Although only in 20% of cases there is a cause that justifies it," he explains. And our belly is also affected, of course, by stress, anxiety and even depression.
When it is not due to a medical problem -the most frequent infection by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that can cause chronic gastritis-, to avoid the balloon effect and the swollen belly it will be enough to make some improvements in our dietary habits: "Eat in moderation making several meals a day, diet in case of overweight, stop smoking and avoid alcohol", Escrich Iturbe advances. It is best to prevent gas, something that is achieved "chewing and salivating food a lot, until it becomes porridge, and drinking a small amount of liquid during meals, preferably water and juices without gas," they add from the Infanta Elena hospital.
Swollen belly, what foods to avoid
As annoying as they are, "gas is a sign of good intestinal health," explains dietitian and nutritionist Júlia Farré, since it means that the bacteria that live in our intestinal flora and help us digest food and absorb nutrients "are happy and receive the right substances." The problem arises when too many are produced, to which everyday gestures such as sucking candy, chewing gum or smoking contribute.
In addition, from the Infanta Elena Hospital it is recommended to make small changes in the diet to reduce the foods that produce more gas, all those that appear in the following list:
- Vegetables. Beans, beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas... It is best to take them in purees or passed through the Chinese.
- Vegetables. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, raw onions, potatoes, radishes.
- Fruits. Raisins, apricot, plum, banana.
- Cereals. Whole grains, rice, bread and whole grain flours.
- Chocolate, soft drinks, cola, beer, red wine.
- Do not drink more than one glass of milk a day.
- Cut back on yogurt and fresh cheeses.
- Avoid sugar and use saccharin instead.
- Take a plate of pasta a week (macaroni, noodles ...) without tomato and with cheese.
- Eat preferably ripe and peeled fruits: peach, pineapple, apple, pear, melon, watermelon, kiwi ...
- Limit the use of tomato, celery and carrot in salads. Take the tomato preferably peeled.
How to avoid gas and a bloated belly
On the other hand, following some guidelines helps to avoid gases and the unpleasant balloon effect. According to the nutritionists of Arkopharma Laboratories, as simple as these:
- Ingest more water, good hydration is essential to improve digestion as it facilitates the movement of food through the digestive system and, therefore, its evacuation. It is best to take it throughout the day, not during meals.
- Eating slowly facilitates digestion and helps not to ingest excess amounts, since the feeling of satiety is better perceived.
- Avoid copious, abundant or high-fat meals and prioritize the consumption of vegetables and fruits, reducing those included in the previous section.
- Limit alcohol consumption as it irritates the mucous membranes and slows digestion. In addition, it supposes an extra contribution of calories.
- Restrict spicy foods as they produce acidity, in addition to irritating the mucous membranes.
- Practice moderate physical activity after meals, because it facilitates digestion. A walk is much more effective against gas than a nap.
- Make light dinners and do it, at least, a couple of hours before bedtime.
If gas is still a problem, we can resort to a food supplement that helps relieve the symptoms of poor digestion and regulate intestinal transit. Among the most effective actives, Arkopharma experts recommend charcoal, milk thistle and cascara sagrada.
It also helps to replace the coffee of the table with an infusion, "excellent to have a better digestion", says the pharmacist Rocío Escalante, specialist in Cosmetics, Nutrition and Dietetics. In this sense, the expert recommends those of "chamomile, anise, mint, ginger, pennyroyal, and cardamom".
Diet against swollen belly
Finally, the health service of the Infanta Elena hospital offers these dietary tips to avoid gases and the balloon effect.
- You can drink all kinds of natural and still fruit juices.
- Once a week you can take vegetable stew or bread.
- Bread: 150 grams per day.
- Take beef, chicken, turkey and lamb, and preferably fish.
- Cook roasted or cooked foods, avoiding fried and battered.
- You can have poached, watered, hard-boiled or omelette eggs, but avoid fried ones.
- Season preferably with extra virgin olive oil and with little vinegar.
- Nutrition I Donate
According to the criteria of The Trust Project