Doctor says anxiety bloating is real - but tasty drink can help ease the issue

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Your bloating could be caused by anxiety (stock image) (Image: Getty Images)
Your bloating could be caused by anxiety (stock image) (Image: Getty Images)

Bloating, where your tummy feels full and uncomfortable, is very common, and there are many reasons for it happening - and some are less obvious than you think. When you have a lot of gas in your gut, you might think it's because of something you ate or drank, but it can actually be caused by other things like hot weather - or even anxiety.

Nutritionist Dr Pamela Mason from the Tea Advisory Panel, explained that "anxiety and stress can upset the delicate balance of digestion". She told The Mirror: "When stressed the body produces cortisol (one of the fight and flight hormones). Cortisol upsets the gut microbial balance, which can lead to poor digestion of food components.

"This can cause bloating, which may be accompanied by 'gas' or farting due to faulty food fermentation in the gut. Cortisol also communicates the life or death (fight or flight) situation of stress to the brain. The brain then reduces or shuts down processes less essential for survival like digestion. Stress may therefore slow down digestion causing bloating, pain and indigestion."

This might present itself as a feeling of "tightness, pressure, fullness and pain" and your stomach "may feel swollen". Luckily, there are things you can do to help.

The NHS recommends managing and reducing your stress to help with your digestion. There are many ways of doing this, including using calming breathing exercises, doing exercise, or try talking about your feels to a friend, family member or health professional.

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However, according to Dr Mason there's one delicious drink that can help ease bloating - tea. That's right, your morning cuppa could help ease anxiety bloating. She explained: "Stay well hydrated. I would recommend drinking non-fizzy drinks such as black tea, which has plenty of health benefits, and water.

"Black tea, that's our much-loved cuppa with milk or without, is good for our gut health overall. Sipping a warm cup of tea is helpful for bloating in part because you cannot gulp it down. Tea can also help with bloating because of its flavonoid content. Flavonoids can reduce inflammation in the gut, so helping bloating.

"Flavonoids can also improve the microbial mix in the gut by reducing the ratio of less healthy bacteria to healthy bacteria. Less healthy bacteria in the gut can contribute to bloating. Herbal infusions as well as ginger and mint teas also have the ability to reduce indigestion which in turn can help bloating."

However, if this doesn't help and your bloating persists, it could be time to visit a doctor. Dr Mason said: "Bloating usually goes away on its own after a while. It can re-occur due in women to the hormonal cycle (e.g before and during a period). But bloating can sometimes be a symptom of underlying disease.

"If it doesn't go away, see your doctor. Bloating can sometimes be caused by food allergies and intolerances. If you suspect this is the case mention it to your GP. A dietitian will be able to help with any dietary changes that may help you."

Ariane Sohrabi-Shiraz

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