Swelling, pain and tension in the stomach, as well as difficult digestion, heaviness, the need to go to the toilet urgently: these are some of the most common symptoms related to stomach and bowel problems. How best to deal with them? Beatrice Salvioli, gastroenterologist in Humanitas, guest in the studio at “La bufala in tavola” on Radio24, spoke about it.


Empty belly and full belly

“The sensation of having an empty stomach, especially in the morning, could indicate that the breakfast has not been adequate; one has digested what was eaten and at the mere sight of food one has the so-called “mouth watering”: this phase is called cephalic, it is the brain that sends signals at the sight of food and that languor that invites one to eat something is born.

If the belly is full, we have a feeling of rejection of food. It can happen, for example, after excessive meals, perhaps the evening before, when a lot was drunk and eaten and maybe it was done late. “It is good to remember that during the night the process of digestion does not work as it does during the day and if we go to bed after a very abundant dinner, it is likely that we find it hard to sleep and digest. Moreover, when we wake up we feel weighed down, confused and with headaches. As the popular saying goes, you should eat as a king at breakfast, as a beginner at lunch and as a poor man in the evening,” says the specialist.


Female disorders

Unpleasant sensations in the stomach and intestines are more common in women. These disorders are mainly female, also for a greater emotionality that often affects the gastro-intestinal level.

“These disorders can be linked to a hypersensitivity of the viscera, so a minimum of disgust from one’s habits is enough to create discomfort, or they can be caused by an intolerance or an incorrect diet, maybe because it is rich in food that ferments,” emphasizes Dr. Salvioli.


Fibers and swelling

Fibers are very important in our diet, but there are people who tend to limit their consumption or even avoid them because when they eat foods rich in fiber they tend to feel swelling.

This happens especially to those who have an irritable bowel and therefore more sensitive, but the fibers should not be eliminated because they ensure a supply of vitamins and antioxidants essential for health. However, it is possible to limit swelling by taking some precautions:


  • Prefer fruit or vegetable extracts or vegetable puree: in which the skin (which is the part richer in fiber) is removed or peeled.
  • Do not eat fruit immediately after meals: it is more difficult to digest; better in snacks.
  • Avoid long leaf salads and prefer the short leaf salad, such as the mâche.
  • Avoid eating raw vegetables at dinner, preferring a vegetable paste.
  • Drink natural water and not sparkling water.


Gastritis and reflux

“Gastritis and reflux are two of the most common disorders. Those who suffer from gastritis often feel full despite having eaten little: this is due to an inflammation in the stomach, which has more sensitive walls, a condition typical of those who suffered from ulcers in the past or those who live stressful situations that literally closes the stomach. It can be helpful to drink warm drinks, the heat in fact relaxes the walls of the stomach, and it is also important to eat calmly, sitting at the table, taking the right time and chewing well.

Reflux sufferers, on the other hand, tend to resort to over-the-counter drugs, which counteract the unpleasant sensation of acid rising in their mouths. However, you should limit the damage with the diet, drinking less coffee (maximum 1 or 2 on a full stomach), avoiding white wine, sauces, fried food, dips and processed foods: it is recommended to eat early for dinner and go to bed at least two hours after the meal,” concluded Dr. Salvioli.