Abdominal discomfort: from bloating to constipation.
I get a lot of questions from women about abdominal discomfort. From: “I feel bloated,” “I suffer from constipation” to “I have a pain in my bowels” or “I have to go to the toilet immediately after eating.” That is why I wrote a blog with more information about these digestive complaints. Hopefully this will give you an idea of where your abdominal discomfort could come from and especially: what to do?
Stress and bowel complaints
Many women suffer from abdominal discomfort and have no idea what the cause is. Let me first say that it is important to know that your mind and body are related. Stress also has a major influence on how you feel physically! Do you normally not suffer from anything and suddenly feel bloated lately? Think about if you experience more stress. It is therefore important to work on your stress if you want to feel better again. It’s not just about eating healthy or exercising a lot. Your entire lifestyle plays an important role in how you feel.
Of course it can also be that your abdominal discomfort is caused by a certain nutrient. In this case, your body really reacts to the substance it comes into contact with. Think of dairy, wheat, nuts, shellfish, egg and so on. But note: there is a difference between a “food allergy”, “food hypersensitivity” and “intolerance”.
Almost all foods of vegetable and animal origin contain proteins. A food allergy is a strong reaction of the immune system to proteins in our food. The body produces antibodies and different substances are released in the body, including histamine. This is an allergic reaction and you speak of a food allergy.
You are not allergic to a food when you are food intolerant, because the immune system is not involved. Food intolerance is caused by, for example, a shortage of enzymes in the body, enzymes normally cause the breakdown of substances. This is the case, for example, with lactose intolerance. It is also often caused by substances that are added to foods, such as sulfite.
Food hypersensitivity is the umbrella term for food allergy and intolerance. Food hypersensitivity is more common in children, since the intestinal system is not yet fully developed. Among adults, only 1-3% really suffer from food hypersensitivity. The chance that this is the cause of your abdominal discomfort is therefore quite small. Food hypersensitivity symptoms include skin complaints, respiratory complaints, gastrointestinal complaints and eye complaints.
Sometimes abdominal discomfort is related to a certain medical condition. Below I discuss a relatively common condition among women: IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic bowel disease. You suffer from a sensitive intestine, where the real cause is not yet fully known. For example, the intestine makes too few or too many movements. The nerves in the intestinal wall can also react extra sensitively to the expansion of the intestinal wall. Pain interaction then arises due to the interaction between the intestines and the brain. Intestinal complaints include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, problems with defecation, a bloated stomach or flatulence from gas. IBS occurs in about 15 to 20% of women. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) often find that there is a link between what they eat and worsening the abdominal discomfort. Psychological factors such as stress and an irregular lifestyle can also be of great influence.
Solutions abdominal discomfort
Probably you are curious now what you can do against abdominal discomfort? First of all, it is of course nice to know where the complaints come from. In most cases, it is not much different than adjusting your lifestyle, which can be the solution. Below are some general tips that can probably help you tremendously:
- Provide enough relaxation and minimal stress. Easier said than done, I understand that too;)
- Eat enough fiber! Think of whole grain, vegetables, fruits and nuts. They ensure that the digestion works properly. But don’t be over-excited. If you suddenly eat too much fiber, your intestines are not used to this and you can get intestinal complaints.
- Drink enough water! Especially if you consume more fiber, it is important to drink enough water. It keeps the gut contents smooth. Think about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.
- Move enough! Movement activates the bowels and thus also the bowel movements.
- Minimize certain food. Some food can cause a lot of gas. Think of: soft drinks, cabbages, raw vegetables, onions, beans and sweeteners in light products. Definitely worth a try to experiment with this!
- Don’t eat too fast! Chew well before swallowing and avoid getting too much air inside. This can also cause gas formation.
So often abdominal discomfort is related to your lifestyle. By improving your lifestyle, in many cases the abdominal discomfort can already disappear. In some cases it has a real medical or hereditary cause, but often a healthy lifestyle can also reduce symptoms and complaints. Of course abdominal discomfort can also be caused by different reason than mentioned in this blog. I hope in this blog I have been able to give you more information about the possible causes of your abdominal discomfort.
Are you curious about how you can work on a healthy lifestyle?