When the corpulent cartoon starfish Patrick emerges from under his rock, he often complains of feeling out of sorts.
Take the episode when he asks SpongeBob SquarePants, "How am I gonna feed my brain when all you have is fancy bubbly water?" before guzzling six bottles, and turning into a cascading mass of bloated marine life.
If you experience gassy, bloated feelings, it may be from drinking carbonated beverages and beer. But if your small intestine regularly suffers from bloating — along with gas, constipation or diarrhea — you may need to look further to identify what's causing your troubles.
Consider these possibilities:
• You're gulping air because you eat and drink too quickly, chew gum, drink fizzy water or smoke anything.
• You're reacting to certain foods, such as dairy or wheat/barley/rye (which contain gluten). If you lack the digestive enzyme lactase, dairy can trigger gas and bloating, even cramping. Gluten-triggered belly woes may signal the autoimmune disease celiac, or a gluten allergy.
How to beat the bloat:
• Eat slowly. Dodge carbonation.
• Drink fennel tea with ginger to get your digestive enzymes going.
• Massage clockwise around your belly button to stimulate movement of gas and food through your intestines.
• Stop eating dairy and/or gluten for a week. See if your symptoms subside. If you cut out dairy, you can get calcium from dark, leafy veggies; also take 1,000 IU of vitamin D-3 daily. Add a probiotic with Lactobacillus GG. Eliminating gluten? Rely on whole grains without gluten, such as brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, and sorghum.
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