Stomach disorders: how to beat tummy troubles
Banish that bad stomach for good with our expert guide to tummy troubles
You can’t say ‘no’
Symptom: A lovely meal out – then cramps for afters.
Is this you? You know which foods affect you, but you still eat them – often because you’re too polite to say no, with one in five of us submitting to culprit foods when we visit our in-laws, according to a recent survey.
What to do: Keep a detailed food diary and be ready for surprises. ‘It’s often not the spice in curry but the fat that upsets stomachs,’ says Peter Whorwell, professor of gastroenterology at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester. ‘Butter is also a common trigger. Try Buscopan (£4.48 from pharmacies), which helps to relieve abdominal pain.’
You eat too much wheat
Symptom: Muffin top – says it all.
Is this you? You love bread and pasta – but it doesn’t love you. According to US cardiologist William Davis: ‘Genetic engineering to make wheat pest-resistant has turned it into a super-carb that wreaks havoc on your body, causing conditions I’ve termed wheat belly, pizza brain, bagel bowel and biscuit face.’
What to do: ‘Give up wheat and you will stop craving it and start losing weight,’ says Dr Davis. ‘In studies, obese coeliac patients lost an average 27.5lb in their first six months on a wheat-free diet.’ Find out more in his book, 'Wheat Belly' (Rodale, £17.99).
You’re not regular
Symptom: You’re stuck for ways of treating your constipation.
Is this you? You eat healthily but still don’t go to the loo regularly enough. You’re reluctant to try laxatives in case you become dependent on them.
What to do: Take them – they’re safer than you think, says Professor Whorwell. ‘Modern laxatives don’t make the gut lazy. Ask your pharmacist
for macrogol, bisacodyl or senna.’
You bottle up emotions
Symptom: You’re mystified by your IBS diagnosis.
Is this you? You suffer with IBS but haven’t found a food link to your problems. If you keep a lid on your feelings, your gut could be trying to tell you something – it’s so closely linked to the brain that it feels stress even when you are not acknowledging it, says Dr Nick Read of The IBS Network.
What to do: Take note of emotional triggers, as well as issues around food, advises Dr Read. ‘Does your IBS flare up around work, travel or certain people? Does it calm down at weekends, in the evenings or on holiday?’ Try hypnotherapy – find a therapist at www.bsch.org.uk or use relaxation MP3s and CDs (from £9.50) from www.ursulajames.com.
You take on too much
Symptom: The fat on the front of your tummy feels hard rather than wobbly.
Is this you? Even if your tummy’s okay on the inside, the stress hormone cortisol causes fat to gather on the belly, says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of 'Fat Around the Middle' (Kyle Cathie, £9.99).
What to do: Take control of the stress triggers in your life. You may not be able to change your job or boss, but you can cut down on caffeine, which heightens stress. Yoga and walking both help, too.
You crave junk food
Symptoms: Overweight and bloated, heartburn, bad breath and indigestion.
Is this you? You’re tired, overweight, prone to mood swings and infections – all signs of toxicity, says Shona Wilkinson, senior nutritionist at Nutricentre.com.
What to do: Swap processed foods for a natural diet, cut down on cigarettes and alcohol. Toxins also come from cosmetics, plastics, pesticides and pollution, says Shona. ‘The natural mineral supplement Zeolite Thrace (£22.99 for 180 tablets, from health stores) will help your liver remove these toxins, making weight control and tummy comfort more achievable.’