What is meteorism
Meteorism is a gastrointestinal symptom characterized by accumulation symptomatic - but DON'T always objectively detectable - of gas inside the digestive tract; it is often associated with behavioral or dietary errors or with intestinal functioning abnormalities, often non-pathological or in any case of a benign nature - for example irritable bowel syndrome.
In this article we will deal better with how to treat it with food, through specific measures that should mitigate the intensity and duration of the manifestations.
Introduction to the dietary therapy against meteorism
Let's start by specifying that the effectiveness of the diet against meteorism results very more limited when:
- No if the causes are known - it is idiopathic
- No it is associated with abdominal distension objectively measurable - it means that it is based only on an individual perception
- No normal belching and flatulence occur - for any reason, dependent or independent of one's will.
In the following paragraph the nutritional aspects concerning functional meteorism - independent of pathological factors will be dealt with in more detail.
We remind you that the diagnosis of any digestive tract disorder or pathology must be attributed to the gastro-enterologist, while the nutritional therapy can be drawn up in detail by a nutrition professional.
Rule out diet-independent causes
In choosing the right food strategy against meteorism, it is first of all necessary to exclude the independent dietary causes.
The first step is certainly to verify that meteorism does not depend on inappropriate behavior that can induce aerophagia. Anxiety and stress, or eating incorrectly, are certainly the main reasons that induce gas retention. We do not recommend using a straw, smoking with meals and chewing too much gum during the day.
In other cases, meteorism can result from chronic inflammatory diseases, intestinal infections or infestations. Particularly:
- Disorders, syndromes or primary pathological conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial contamination syndrome of the small intestine, functional pathologies of inflammatory origin (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) of the intestine, liver failure, etc.
- Contaminations, infections, parasites etc.
It is therefore always a good idea not to take the symptoms lightly, especially if recurrent and worsening, and to consult a doctor who will begin a thorough diagnostic process.
Bacterial intestinal flora and meteorism
Sometimes the causes can be diet-dependent but cause a secondary alteration, as in the case of the impairment of the intestinal bacterial flora. It may therefore be helpful to follow a path to restore physiological bacteria, through the use of drugs or supplements. If, on the other hand, the symptoms worsen, it is better to suspend the protocol immediately.
Exclude food intolerances
Let's now go into the details of what to eat and what to avoid. Unfortunately, even in this case it depends a lot on the specific cause; for example, food intolerances are among the main causes of meteorism.
In the event that meteorism is caused by reduced tolerance towards certain molecules - such as histamine - or by the inability to digest nutrients such as gluten (celiac disease) and lactose, it is sufficient to exclude any food that contains them and avoid any possibility of cross-contamination.
The reactions induced by intolerances are extremely individual but, in the case of celiac disease, the continuation of the consequent state of intestinal inflammation (as well as an immune-mediated reaction) can, in addition to worsening the meteorism, lead to histological and functional complications of the mucosa interested.
In lactose intolerance, on the other hand, there is no immune-mediated reaction and the symptoms (always subjective) are limited to the digestive tract. However, although the overall picture may appear less alarming, it should be specified that lactose intolerance is often the case not treated it can be associated (as well as celiac disease) with a significant reduction in intestinal absorption, with the tendency to dehydration induced by the consequent diarrhea (exudative or osmotic).
If the pathogenesis of meteorism is not well defined (idiopathic), it is advisable to implement a series of dietary strategies which on the whole can significantly influence the reduction of abdominal tension. Let's see better which ones.
Food tips to combat bloating
If no diet-independent disease or condition is present, it is time to take the diet in hand and modify it to address the nutritional cause of bloating. First of all, a distinction must be made between:
- Foods that objectively cause an excessive amount of gas to be produced: these include those rich in anti-nutritional agents - proteases, tannins, oxalates and phytates, which hinder normal absorption and increase the substrate for bacterial flora - lactulose in hot milk, additives such as xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol etc.
- Foods that irritate the intestinal mucosa: for example caffeine, theobromine, theophylline and ethyl alcohol
- Foods that cause an excessive amount of gas to be produced only in excessive portions or if the intestine is not healthy: among these, those rich in insoluble fiber, carbohydrates in general and especially fructose.
More specifically, the anti-bloating diet may require you to:
- Eat slowly and chew properly; avoid evening binges, and in general going to bed after eating
- Avoid fizzy drinks and air-rich foods like ice cream, milkshakes, and whipped cream
- Avoid poorly digestible food associations; for example meat and cheeses; eggs and legumes, pasta or bread and lots of meat, giant stuffed pizzas etc.
- Eliminate / significantly reduce:
- Foods with molecules irritating the intestinal mucosa: alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate, cola, energy drinks such as Red Bull etc.
- Those that decrease intestinal absorption: especially anti-nutritional factors, such as tannins, oxalates, phytates, etc. To do this it is an excellent habit to peel the fruit, soak the legumes for a long time, eat them only peeled and prefer refined cereals
- Those with a significant level of indigestible molecules: make sure not to consume milk at high temperatures as lactose, even if well tolerated, undergoes a structural change, converting into lactulose, a highly osmotic component. Avoid consuming stale bread (including grated bread) as starch, even if previously hydrolyzed by cooking, undergoes molecular retrogradation as it ages (reverse gelation process). Sweeteners such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol contained in light drinks and chewingum are also indigestible
- Significantly eliminate / reduce sophisticated, processed foods containing excessive levels of food additives as well as all "junk foods". These include: sweetened drinks, industrial confectionery products, packaged snacks, etc.
- Attempting to maintain trophic and efficient intestinal bacterial flora, but without exaggerating; in this regard it should be specified that the composition of the latter is subjective, genetically determined and influenced by childbirth and maternal breastfeeding - among the components of the latter there are prebiotic molecules and specific antibodies that intervene in the selection of microorganisms present in the intestinal lumen of the newborn from the first days of life. Therefore, the use of drugs and supplements can be useful but not necessarily decisive
- Always guarantee an intake of dietary fiber that is around 30 g / day; this component, divided into soluble and insoluble portion, guarantees the peristaltic contraction of segmentation and fecal advancement. It supplies prebiotic molecules (growth substrate for bacterial colonies physiologically present in the intestine) useful in reducing the phenomena of fecal putrefaction and stagnation. This can be achieved effectively by ensuring the intake of vegetable foods and taking care to prefer fruit and vegetables above all to cereals; with this expedient it is possible to optimize the insoluble fiber / soluble fiber ratio to the advantage of the latter. The optimization of fecal advancement through a correct supply of total dietary fiber, associated with the preference of soluble fiber (which DOES NOT FERMENT by gelling) allows to reduce intestinal stress by improving the composition of the bacterial flora and considerably reducing the stagnation of toxins contained in the faeces same. A more efficient and less irritated intestine allows you to significantly reduce the symptoms associated with meteorism
- Decrease the size of portions and meals, rather by increasing the number and fragmenting them
- Consume sweet fruit and sugary foods away from main meals.
Note: remember that herbal medicine provides various solutions aimed at combating the discomfort of abdominal tension; however, even assuming that the continuous and systematic use of these products DOES NOT adversely affect the state of health, for many of them no scientific documentation is available that certifies their effectiveness in the treatment of intestinal syndromes and symptoms (including functional meteorism).For further information: Remedies for Swollen Belly Natural Remedies Against Meteorism Drugs for Curing Meteorism Fighting Meteorism: Where to Start? Meteorism: What It Is and Possible Causes
- C. Rugarli; FC Loop; L. Cantalamessa; G. Cappelli; MD Cappellini; P. Cavallo Perin; GR Armor; A. Craxì; F. Create; LM Fabbri; G. Ferraccioli; A. Giustina; A. Lazzarin; R. Nuti; AP Stella - Systemic internal medicine; sixth edition - Chapter 26 [colon diseases] - Chapter 27 [colon diseases].