Stomach bloating: A life-sustaining reflex could cause a bloated belly

Trapped air in the body can contribute to the discomfort associated with gas – a bloated, stretch and uncomfortable tummy. In order to combat this, it'll help to know what caused it in the first place.

Brigham Health assured that "bloating doesn't necessarily mean there is something wrong with digestion".

Intestinal gas is made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.

People are unique in how sensitive they are to gas production, which means some will get bloated more easily than others.

One life-sustaining reflex that could be behind your bloated belly is the simple act of sighing.

Science Alert testified that sighing is "a crucial reflex that keeps the lungs healthy".

Researcher Mark Krasnow, from Stanford University School of Medicine, explained: "The brain's breathing centre controls the type of breath we take.

"It's made up of small numbers of different kinds of neurons. Each functions like a button that turns on a different type of breath."

Adding to his line of thought, his fellow researcher, Jack Fieldman, added: "Sighing appears to be regulated by the fewest number of neurons we have seen linked to a fundamental human behaviour."

What exactly is a sigh? Fieldman likens it to an involuntarily "deep breath".

It's purpose is to pop open the alveoli in the lungs, enabling the organ to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.

However, it must be noted that there is "certainly a component of sighing that relates to an emotional state".

As the body will produce a sigh involuntarily, this isn't something you can control.

Thus, it's imperative to understand what else could be contributing to that bloated feeling – and tips to prevent it from happening.

Brigham Health identifies behaviours that contribute to intestinal gas, such as using a straw, talking while eating, and chewing gum.

The most sensible options to reduce the likelihood of a bloated tummy is to not use a straw, to not talk while eating, and to not chew gum.

The health organisation offers additional suggestions to decrease bloating, outlined below:

Eat slowly, and consume smaller, more frequent mealsChew your foods wellDrink beverages at room temperatureHave your dentures checked for a good fitIncrease physical activity during the daySit up straight after eatingTake a stroll after eating.

There are also natural remedies if you've already got a bloated tummy that you'd rather get rid of.

These include drinking herbal teas, such as peppermint, chamomile or turmeric teas.

In most circumstances, occasional gas and abdominal discomfort doesn't require medical attention.

Adjustments in eating habits and behaviours could help remedy the situation.

However, persistent bloating (for longer than three weeks) could be a health hazard.

In this scenario, the best course of action will be to contact your GP to discuss your symptoms.

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