ARE you suffering from corona-bloat?
Celebs are taking to social media to share pictures of their bulging bellies and experts say lockdown could be to blame for the tummy troubles.
Loose Women’s Saira Khan, model Vogue Williams, reality star Lucy Mecklenburgh and actress Gemma Atkinson have all posted snaps of their swollen midriffs.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer says we may have underestimated how much our bodies have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Suzie, who specialises in female health and runs suziesawyer.com, says: “Our gut is highly sensitive and sudden changes to our diet, routine or movement can disrupt the balance and cause it to react.
“So it’s unsurprising that such a huge change in our lifestyles has caused the nation to be more bloated than ever.”
Here, she explains the factors driving this problem . . .
WORKING from home may have become the norm for many but not being in an office, with fancy desks, big computer screens and ergonomic office chairs is playing havoc with our posture.
Sitting hunched up over a make-shift desk or, even worse, with your laptop on your lap, will seriously alter your digestion.
Even if you are not working at home, lockdown has made all of us sit for longer, so lounging on the sofa for long periods will have the same effect.
Your digestive organs will trap gas in the stomach and cause digestive issues.
Muscular contractions that need room to work efficiently and rid your body of gasses cannot function — and so your tummy bloats.
Try getting up regularly and moving around, and sit upright with your back supported as much as possible.
BEING inside more, with easy access to the fridge and food cupboards, has increased our daily snacking.
New research by the Oral Health Foundation found that, as a result of being at home during lockdown, more than one in three (38 per cent) of British adults increased the amount of times they snacked throughout the day.
Our digestive organs (including the pancreas) need time to “process” food after we eat a meal. This processing cleans us out by pushing left behind food particles and bacteria out of the small intestine.
If we snack before our bodies have gone through this process then that leftover food is fed on by bacteria and forms gas, which causes bloating.
Leaving around three and a half hours between meals will help to reduce this.
WHETHER we realise it or not, the last few months have put a lot more stress on us than we are used to. Cortisol is a stress hormone and a change in routine can cause the level of it to rise in our bodies.
Increased stress can occur because of anxiety around our health, the health of those close to us, the security of our jobs and having to cancel major events.
Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet. Stress can impact hugely on our digestion as it triggers our fight or flight response.
When this happens, blood flow is taken away from the digestive organs, leaving them less able to digest efficiently and this causes our tummies to bloat.
If you feel stressed, certain breathing techniques will help aid the normal function of these organs. Alternatively, try going for a walk.
Change of diet
WHEN we have a full-time job, we not only get into a routine with our use of time during the day, but also a routine with our diets.
We are very much creatures of habit, and the foods we eat are similar from week to week. Lockdown has changed our routine and given us more time to think about food and different options.
Just Eat saw takeaway orders grow by 33 per cent in April and May during the height of lockdown.
The online delivery service also saw a surge in demand away from the traditional evening meal, with breakfast deliveries up by 50 per cent and lunch deliveries up 80 per cent.
An increase in delivery orders such as these introduces new ingredients our guts are not used to, and could also increase our gluten-load significantly.
Gluten — the sticky protein in bread and grains — slows down digestion and is one of the biggest causes of bloating. Try a slow return to the foods you ate pre-lockdown and more home cooking.
When should I seek help?
BLOATING can also be caused by food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and coeliac disease.
If bloating persists it is worth seeing a GP to investigate the causes and rule out serious conditions such as ovarian cancer.
Lack of exercise
MANY of us have been less active during lockdown and those who have kept up some form of exercise during this strange time have probably been moving about a lot less than before.
The body likes routine and regular movement and the digestive tract works on muscular contraction to move food around the body.
Inactivity, even just walking less, will slow down these muscular contractions as the body will be in a state of rest, which inevitably leads to bloating and, very likely, constipation.
Try not to sit for long periods of time and introduce yoga to your day to encourage your body to move and stretch in a way that can aid digestive movement.
THE friendly bacteria that naturally reside within us are finely balanced.
The “bad guys”, such as stress, too much sugar and alcohol, can sometimes outnumber the “good guys” like nutrient rich foods, exercise and calm feelings.
Lockdown has caused a rise in the bad guys and created the perfect storm in your stomach.
When gut bacteria becomes imbalanced, the stomach does not function how it should and it reacts by bloating, as well as by creating more gas.
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Getting the right balance of good bacteria can be key to reducing your bloating.
Eat foods to feed the good bacteria including artichokes, garlic, onions, bananas and asparagus. Green tea is also excellent for the gut.
Plenty of fibrous foods such as green peas and beans can also really help.
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