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Swollen belly: home remedies supported by science

Sensation of tension, sometimes also accompanied by pain and cramps: the swollen belly it is a disorder that is as common as it is annoying. And not just for a purely aesthetic question of abdominal circumference.

The good news? There are some simple but effective remedies which can help limit discomfort. The scientifically proven ones come from the experts of Harvard Medical School which, in a recent item suggest one series of good habits and strategies to follow to reduce swelling.

Swollen belly: the most common causes

What determines the swelling is theexcessive presence of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Why does this happen? Among the most frequent causes, theswallowing air when eating or drinkingbut also the consumption of some foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. In particular, vegetables such as can cause bloating problems cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. The reason? These vegetables contain the raffinoseone complex sugar which cannot be absorbed, since the body does not have specific enzymes available and which is therefore metabolised in the intestine by colon bacteria generating gas.

Vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli can also cause bloating problems


Even some food intolerance may be the cause of abdominal swelling. In particular, people intolerant to lactose, milk sugar, may notice bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. As well as those who have an intolerance to fructose may develop gastrointestinal symptoms after eating foods rich in this naturally occurring sugar fruit and honey.

But not only. Sometimes the cause of swelling can also beexcessive intestinal bacterial growth. With the term SIBOacronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or bacterial overgrowth of the small intestinein fact, indicates one condition characterized by increased bacterial concentration in the upper reaches of the intestinewhich can lead to symptoms such as bloating, in fact, but also constipation and diarrhea.

Without considering that a swollen belly is also a typical symptom of the so-called irritable bowel syndromeone of the most common intestinal pathologies, so much so that it is estimated that the 3-5% of the Western population, above all women and under 50 years of age (source: Medical Encyclopedia Humanitas.it). It is a chronic-recurrent disorder, characterized by abdominal pain and alteration of intestinal function, often exacerbated by particularly stressful events on a physical level (such as surgery and illnesses) but also psychologically.

While it is true that in most cases, a swollen belly is only an occasional disorder, when it tends to recur often and in combination with symptoms such as stomach pain or weight loss – experts recommend – it is better to consult your doctor.

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Eating habits to pay attention to

Whatever the cause, how can you limit the discomfort? Here are some small eating habits that can make a difference:

  • Keep a diary. A useful habit could be to write down what you eat and after which foods you felt particularly bloated. This can help identify, even with the help of a doctor, the problematic foods.
  • Limit the consumption of certain foods. Another useful but effective strategy can be to reduce consumption of some foods known to easily trigger bloating. Among these, carbonated drinks, dairy products but also sugar-free chewing gum and sweetsoften containing artificial sweeteners that can cause bloating.
  • Also among the foods to limit to reduce discomfort beans, fruit rich in fructose – such as apples, apricots, bananas, peaches and pears – e.g cruciferous vegetables such as the aforementioned broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.

If you don’t notice any improvement despite these habits, the Harvard Medical School article suggests, it may be useful consider the FODMAP dietan acronym composed of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyolsthat is to say fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Designed and studied at Monash University in Australia, this diet seems to alleviate the irritable bowel disorders in 75% of cases, through the initial elimination of some sugars which must be followed by a gradual and progressive reintroduction of all foods. Basically, let’s get started avoiding foods containing FODMAPs For about 2/4 weeks. Then, when the symptoms are in remission, all foods are reintroduced group by group, one group per week – monitoring intestinal symptoms and keeping a food diary (source: Auxologico.it).

Since this diet can be very restrictive – however, experts recommend – it is always good to follow it under the guidance of a nutritionist.

Useful advice? Eat consciously

However, swelling is not caused only from what you eat but also from as Yes eats. Particularly, eat a meal quickly, perhaps while doing something elsedoor either to swallow a lot of air both a eat more than necessary. Both factors that cause swelling. So the right strategy can be to focus on what is called conscious eating. Science is in fact investigating the complex role of the mind-body connection in eating behavior: recent research has highlighted, for example, that when mind is distracted during meals, The digestive process can be significantly less effective. A factor that can lead to digestive disorders, such as bloating, as well as intestinal irregularities.

When the mind is distracted during meals the digestive process can be significantly less effective

When the mind is distracted during meals, the digestive process can be significantly less effective

Violeta Stoimenova

As then learn to eat mindfully? Here are some useful tips suggested in the Harvard Medical School article:

  • eat with chopsticks or with the non-dominant hand: these are in fact small tricks that can help not only to eat more slowly but also to take smaller bites;
  • chew food 30 times per bite;
  • avoid eating in front of the screen of the TV, like the smartphone or the computer;
  • plating food instead of eating it directly from a container or serving plate;
  • always eat while sitting;
  • make the meal last at least 20 minutes.

Swollen belly: physical activity can also help

To limit swelling better also say goodbye to a sedentary lifestyle. Science has in fact demonstrated how practicing regular physical activity is good for the brain, the heart but also to the intestine.

According to one 2023 review published on Journal of Rehabilitation Medicineexercise – how walking, running, cycling, swimming or yoga – seems to help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including swelling. In addition, doing physical activity reduces stress which is considered one of the factors that can worsen the sensation of abdominal bloating.

Walking, running, cycling, swimming or doing yoga seems to help relieve the symptoms of the syndrome...

Walking, running, cycling, swimming or yoga appears to help relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, including bloating


And if you really can’t train regularly, don’t worry: even a walk after meals can make a difference. Second a 2021 study in fact, the people who make a 10 to 15 minute walk after eating they report less swelling.

Home remedies to relieve swelling

Finally, how to regulate it with classic home remedies? While there are no miracle solutions to instantly relieve swelling, experts at Harvard Medical School recommend a simple but effective remedy that can help: use anise for cooking.

It has indeed been proven that this aromatic herb is able to reduce bloating even in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia.

Anise is able to reduce bloating even in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia

Anise can also reduce bloating in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia


And as far as i common over-the-counter medications? The most popular to reduce swelling is the one based on simethiconea capable active ingredient to break the gas bubbles and make them easily removable. Although, as also underlined by theHigher Institute of Healthwhether it is a drug that does not require a prescription and which can also be administered in childhood, not There is scientific evidence of its effectiveness in reducing disorders.

The same goes for another natural remedy among the most used for swelling, namely charcoal (or activated charcoal), generally suggested before and after meals for its ability to trap gases. While there is no scientific evidence that can confirm its beneficial effects, it is important to remember that its use can limit the absorption of drugs and nutrients.

A useful remedy can instead be a alpha-galactosidase based supplement, an enzyme absent in our body that is essential for digesting complex carbohydrates, contained in legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables. Its intake before meals further underlines theHigher Institute of Healthpromotes the digestion of foods containing carbohydrates otherwise subject to bacterial fermentation.


Source: Vanity Fair

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