Abdominal bloating is not just uncomfortable, it wrecks that swimsuit look. It is often a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - the most common condition seen by UK gastroenterologists. As many as one in five adults in this country, mainly women, will have this possibly painful problem at any time. If you are bloated:
1. Get a diagnosis Bloating can be a symptom of other diseases, such as Crohn's disease, so if it is a persistent problem, see your GP, who may prescribe medications such as antispasmodics.
2. Try probiotics According to the Gut Trust, which supports people with IBS, studies show that probiotics (good bacteria), now added to some foods such as yoghurt, can help some people. (There is less evidence for prebiotics, which feed "good" bacteria in the digestive tract.) However, some products promoted as probiotic, are, says the Gut Trust spokesperson, "Snake oil: the quantity of active ingredients is what matters". Yakult or Multibionta are good options.
3. Identify trigger foods Keep a diary of what food or drink triggers the bloat and try to avoid it. Fizzy drinks, acidic foods, spicy foods and caffeine are common culprits. Solid, bland food is best.
4. De-stress Bloating can be stress-related and people with IBS often report improvements with therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture.
5. Exercise This can improve digestion and stress levels - aim for 30 minutes of gentle exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga most days of the week.
6. Drink water Two litres of water a day can reduce bloating as it keeps food moving through the gut.
· For more information contact The Gut Trust on 0114-2723253 or go to theguttrust.org.