Swollen belly: how to recognize it and intervene – iO Donna

Qhello of swollen belly, you know, it’s a common problem. Even if we often tend to ignore it, however, the reasons behind the disorder can be very different and it is the belly itself, as it appears, that can provide important clues about its state of health. To explain it is the doctor Serena Missori, endocrinologist and diabetologist but also the author of the book “The Belly Diet” (LSWR Editions). According to the expert therefore there are different types of belly and each of these may hide a particular ailment. Recognizing your belly type is therefore essential to feel good and to implement the most useful food strategies to solve the problem. «A swollen and overweight belly can be there warning of more important issues which must not be neglected – explains the expert. – The most common? Dysbiosis, candida, allergies, food intolerances, celiac disease, fatty liver disease but also inflammatory bowel disease. It is therefore important to deal with it in time, since it is not only aesthetics that are at stake, but also health ».

Swollen belly: when it is the indicator of a problem

“If we are faced with a episodic bloating, perhaps because we have eaten more and therefore have gone a little beyond the containing capacity of our executive apparatus and then the swelling resolves itself – the expert points out – it is not a condition to be investigated. If however the swelling is often present and maybe in the morning the belly is flatter and then it swells progressively during the daycreating physical discomfort, then it means that there is something wrong, both at the level of intestinal transit and intestinal microbiota. Or maybe there are foods that create their own irritationcausing pain, swelling and discomfort.

Low-calorie diets: are they really for bloating?

Low-calorie diets are often used to reduce abdominal swelling. But are they really useful?

“In general a low-calorie diet, such as skipping meals when very swollen and sore, it allows the intestines to have more time to ‘clean up’ – explains Dr. Missori. – However these diets that go on for too long become a cause of stress and therefore of production of stress hormones with negative effects. The too high cortisol actually worsens the intestinal bacterial flora causing further dysbiosis, swelling and discomfort. The diets and food choices must always be modulated according to need individuals of that moment.

Swollen belly in menopause: what to do to run for cover

Swollen belly in menopause

A swollen belly is also a problem very common during menopause. In these cases, what to do?

«Certainly in menopause the problem is more pronounced because intestinal swelling is also associated with the accumulation of visceral fat typical of this phase and caused by sudden hormonal imbalances – explains the expert. – In this case then we do not intervene only on the causes that determine the swelling but also on the causes of the increase in visceral fat which can be, for example, associated with insulin resistance, increased blood sugar or fatty liver disease».

The different types of belly and the strategies to follow

As we said, there are therefore different types of belly. In particular 5 types of belly, as Dr. Missori explains in her book: pear, roll, donut, pointed and round belly (in the gallery above, suggestions for recognizing your own type of belly and the strategies to adopt).

The good news? Recognizing your belly type it is possible to deflate itin four weeks, simply following the right diet.

“Four weeks it is the time that the intestine takes to get rid of a large part of the toxins and waste and therefore to have a good cell turnover and reduce inflammation – explains Dr. Missor.i – In fact, my book proposes the solutions they envisage the exclusion of some categories of nutrients that most frequently cause swelling. Obviously, in addition to following the right nutritional strategies it is necessary to undergo tests that can correctly identify the cause of the problem. This is also to avoid running into, at the end of the four weeks, those mistakes that caused pain and swelling first ».

Swollen belly: mistakes to avoid

In addition to the food strategies to follow, it is good for a healthy belly pay attention to the classic mistakes which can make the situation worse.

«Among the most common there is certainly what is usually done at lunch during the week – explains Dr. Missori. – That is to say eat quickly without chewing enough, which is instead essential for the digestive process. If you then do a sedentary job, after eating, we usually get back seated immediately and in this way the intestinal peristalsis is slowed down. It is no coincidence that people complain of progressive swelling throughout the day, especially from lunch onwards”.

Swollen belly: the exercises to try

Swollen belly

So what to do?

«A good rule of thumb, before sitting down at your desk again – suggests the expert – is to make some torso movements to aid progression of food content and reduce swelling. Also exercising is importantkeeping in mind that, sometimes, simple exercises of 3 or 4 minutes are enough, to be done in the morning upon waking or before going to sleep, to reduce abdominal swelling ».

Among them, the vacum, an exercise that works on visceral fat and is very useful against diastasis recti muscles in the postpartum or when the belly is very prominent. “The vacuum eases the peristalsdigestion and is very useful in the morning on an empty stomach – explains the doctor.

How is it done? Stand up, with your knees slightly bent and your hands resting on your thighs, inhaling and exhaling. With empty lungs, pull belly in and up (a pull should be felt in the throat). Hold the position for 4-6 seconds, then send your belly out while inhaling. Repeat 5-10 times.

Vacuum twist: the king of the flat stomach

Another useful exercise is the vacuum twist which allows you to quickly reduce the waistline. How to do it? You run the vacuum but remaining in the upright position and keeping the hands behind the neck. In the moment of retraction of the belly, keeping the pelvis still, rotate the torso to the right and left 4-6 times, then relax your belly and breathe slowly. The exercise is repeated 10 times and can be performed at any time of the day.

Beware of cold drinks

Now that we are approaching the summer season, there is another aspect to pay attention to in case of swelling.

“It is good reduce cold liquids that can cause pseudo congestion – warns Dr. Missori – because this too can trigger abdominal bloating with blockage of peristalsis.

Also regarding the cooking mode, should pay attention to make no mistake.

«Boiling vegetables in water is not recommended: in this way it is deprived of mineral salts which also help peristaltic movements. – explains the expert. – Boiled vegetables tend to slow down peristalsis so it can be good in case of diarrhea but not in case of regular bowel movements or constipation. In case of slowed down better a pan-fried vegetable because in that way the cleansing of the liver, of the gallbladder and of the intestine is stimulated».

The recipe to try: the functional salad

Image taken from the book “Serena Cucina” – Courtesy Press office LSWR Book Division

In his latest book “Serene Cuisine” (LSWR editions), Dr. Missori also suggests a series of tasty, easy but above all healthy recipes. The dish to try if you suffer from abdominal swelling and beyond? L’functional salad. It is in fact one recipe that performs many tasks, explains the expert in the book, since it manages to satiate, stimulate the work of the liver, intestines and kidneys, provide antioxidants and promote glycemic and insulinemic calm, i.e. prevent blood sugar and insulin from rising too much after a meal with carbohydrates.

A ‘tactical’ salad, therefore, that the doctor recommended to consume before a first course, pizza or a plate of potatoes.

How to prepare it

Ingredients for two portions:

  • 200 g long radicchio (or lettuce)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 celery sticks with leaves
  • 1 organic red apple (or 1 peach)
  • 2 tablespoons of EVO oil
  • 2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (or wine vinegar)


  • Wash the vegetables and the apple.
  • Cut the radicchio or lettuce, the celery and grate the carrot, trying to reduce everything into small pieces to facilitate chewing.
  • Cut the apple into cubes – taking care to leave the peel – and combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • In a small jar, pour the EVO oil and the vinegar. Close and shake to emulsify, then dress the functional salad.

Self Enriched with a source of protein and carbohydratesit can also become a single dish, to take to work the next day (just season it when you consume it). The tummy will thank you.