Is your belly swollen and uncomfortable by the end of the day?
Do you suffer griping gas pains and/or flatulence?
Aside from being uncomfortable and embarrassing, bloating and flatulence can make your pelvic floor symptoms worse, especially prolapse symptoms and bladder leakage.
Read on now for:
- What causes bloating (diet-related)?
- Which food can cause bloating?
- My short interview with Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby who explains FODMAPS
- How to stop bloating and flatulence
- How bloating can make your pelvic floor problems worse
What Causes Bloating & Flatulence?
Imagine a balloon inside your belly being filled with gas and water – this is very much like what happens with bloating.
Your gut is designed to expand and contract – this is normal. Pain and discomfort can result if you have a lot of gas or if your gut is extra sensitive to stretching.
Diet-related bloating is caused when food or fluid is poorly digested in your small intestine so that it passes to your large intestine. These poorly digested foods ferment and feed your gut bacteria and draw extra fluid into your gut (hence those gurgly sounds). Fermentation and the action of your gut bacteria produce gas and your belly becomes bloated with gas and fluid.
It’s important to visit your doctor if you are suffering bowel symptoms to rule out other causes before making changes to your diet. Abdominal bloating can be caused by bowel diseases including inflammatory bowel conditions, Coeliac disease and some gynaecological conditions.
Which Foods Can Cause Bloating?
Studies have shown that some carbohydrates (sugars) in some foods and fluids worsen bloating and flatulence.
These carbohydrates are known as FODMAPS. While the term may sound complex at first glance, it simply stands for the different types of carbohydrates that aren’t well absorbed by some of us – particularly with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
FODMAPS have been extensively researched by Professor Sue Sheppard and the team University of Melbourne and the low FODMAP diet is implemented by dieticians worldwide.
Don’t be confused by the term sugars – this article isn’t about sugar being bad for our health as some would argue; rather that some of the sugars found in everyday foods aren’t well absorbed and can bloating and flatulence in some individuals.
FODMAPS found in everyday foods:
Fructose – e.g. apples, honey, pear, high fructose corn syrup
Lactose – dairy
Polyols – e.g. apples, apricots, cherries, sweeteners containing mannitol, sorbitol or xylitol, prunes, mushrooms
Fructans – e.g. artichoke, asparagus, chicory, wheat, garlic, onions
Galactans – e.g legumes (chick peas, baked beans, lentils, soybeans)
This list of FODMAPS is by no means exhaustive see below for more information.
How to Stop Bloating & Flatulence with FODMAPS
Not all the FODMAP foods bother everyone. Some individuals may just have an intolerance to one of the categories e.g. lactose intolerance.
To work out the problem foods, most individuals start out with an elimination diet where the foods ugh in FODMAPS are removed from the diet and then different foods are gradually reintroduced and the effect on symptoms is monitored.
If you are planning on making changes to your diet it’s advisable to consult with an accredited practicing dietician. The low FODMAP diet can be a little restrictive in terms of maintaining adequate fibre and calcium intake when it is fully implemented.
How Does Bloating Make Pelvic Floor Problems Worse?
There are a number of ways that bloating can make pelvic floor problems worse:
- When you become bloated, the gas and water in your lower abdomen can increase downward pressure on your pelvic floor. Increased pressure on your pelvic floor can make your prolapse and/or incontinence symptoms worse. Diet for prolapse can help relieve prolapse symptoms in some women.
- When foods are poorly absorbed in your gut this can contribute to changes in your bowel movements with diarrhoea and/or constipation. Bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhoea can both weaken the pelvic floor muscles and contribute to worsening prolapse and/or incontinence problems.
- Pelvic floor symptoms can become worse with bloating and flatulence
- Bloating can result when foods and/or fluids are poorly absorbed
- Some sugars in everyday foods aren’t well absorbed and can bloating and flatulence in some individuals
- FODMAPS is an acronym for some of the sugars that are poorly absorbed in the gut
- Consult with an accredited practicing dietitian for assistance implementing the FODMAPS diet
- Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby’s Eat to Beat Constipation information and download her handy fibre factsheet
- Monash University Department of Gastroenterology Information and FODMAPS resources
- The user friendly FODMAPS App can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play
- Online search will provide you with many links that list FODMAP foods
with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway
Learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your prolapse and reduce your risk of repeat prolapse.
Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.