Bloating is, quite frankly, the bane of most of our existences. It’s Sod’s Law that you’ll be heading out for a special occasion, be it a wedding or party, and you’ll feel bloated. But what causes bloating, and, more importantly, what can we do to prevent it happening? We called on Mark Curry, a science teacher–turned–beauty boss, who has founded a company called Be, which is set to launch problem-solving beauty products and brands on the regular. The first is the BOD brand, short for Body on Demand, which has been masterminded to tackle bloating. The bath salts alone can cause you to shed pounds of bloat-causing excess water after just one soak in the tub. I tried them, weighing myself before and after my 20-minute bath, and lost one pound just by lying there. I felt slender and less sluggish to boot. Okay, it’s not a long-term solution, but it’s a very good quick fix.
Keep scrolling to find out more about bloating, why women suffer more than men (eye roll) and how to prevent it happening in the first place.
The Causes of Bloating
"There are two types of bloating—one is caused by gas, and the other is caused by water retention," explains Curry. "With gas as the cause, the abdomen feels full or tight, and this is often caused by the likes of swallowing excess air, certain gaseous foods, excessive sodium, lactose intolerance or high-fibre diets." The NHS credits swallowing air as a definite cause for unwanted bloating; it also recommends chewing your food with your mouth closed so as not to take on too much excess air (not to mention it's just good manners).
"With water retention, this is an excessive buildup of deadweight water in body tissues and cavities, but the cause of water retention come from many potentially uncontrollable sources from your natural physiology of your blood capillaries, heart and kidneys through to your diet and physical activity. PMS significantly alters the hormonal balance in women and therefore affects the storage of water in bodily tissues and cavities. This will be exacerbated by poor diet (low protein, high salt and some potential allergies thrown into the mix).
Frustratingly the causes can vary wildly from person to person. "From everyone’s brilliantly individual biology through to lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise and general stress, etc, this can affect the increased or decreased likelihood of suffering," adds Curry.
Do men suffer with bloating?
"Yes, men do suffer," says Curry. "However, women (pregnant, menstruating and menopausal women especially) are more pre-disposed to bloating than men due to the different fatty deposit distribution layers throughout their body versus men. This means that more water is stored there for women than men, so the effect is more impactful."
How to Prevent Bloating
"Remember bloating is just an excess of a natural process of storing water in the body," says Curry. "The body is 70% water, so we do need it, but maybe not just around our bums, tums and thighs so much!"
"Unfortunately, bloating is secondary ailment, which means there is limited research into the root causes of the condition. And since there are complex multiple-source of indicators that contribute to the end result [it means finding a treatment or preventative is difficult]. Bloating is not killing people, so the NHS does not invest, and so the population (mainly women) is left to just deal with it. Whilst there is no cure or prevention, there are products and some lifestyle choices to help you minimize the impact on your life:
- Keep active, even through PMS, pregnancy and stressful times.
- Improve your circulation (even through simple desk/armchair exercises, such as raising your legs up and down several times a day).
- Avoiding sitting or standing for too long.
- Massage affected areas.
If you’re going out to an event and want to try to avoid feeling bloated follow this plan of action:
- Get out bright and early and do some exercise (hopefully this happens daily so you feel good in yourself anyway).
- Eat only good, clean, foods throughout the day avoiding anything that is too high in salt. “Melon has diuretic properties that prevent water retention, while pineapple and papaya contain bromelain and papain enzymes that break down heavy proteins that have a habit of pushing your belly outwards,” says nutritionist Gabriela Peacock.
- Enjoy a BOD 20 min Body Boost Bath Prep (£10) to help drive out some of the excess water weight.
- Massage your body with an oil to boost circulation.