Bloating for some may be a short-term concern, while for others it can be a longer-term issue. Either way, bloating can be painful and embarrassing, and can impact on your quality of life. The first step in trying to manage digestive symptoms such as bloating is to improve your diet by reducing high sugar, refined carbs and fatty processed foods and instead opting for home-cooked meals made from fresh whole food ingredients, according to nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult Hannah Braye. By doing this many people notice immediate benefits.
The first step in trying to manage digestive symptoms such as bloating is to improve your diet
Hannah Braye, nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult
She said: “Some people also find trialling a gluten and/or dairy-free diet for a short period of time can help them identify if these foods are triggers.
“Practising mindful eating by not eating in front of the computer, tv or phone, eating slowly and chewing food properly is another key step, as is reducing stress levels (especially around meals times).”
But if after taking all these steps you are still suffering, Hannah says you may want to try some of the below supplements, which many find beneficial in helping to alleviate bloating.
For symptomatic relief many herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger have a carminative effect on the digestive tract. Fennel is particularly effective for bloating, said Hannah.
She advised: “Try soaking a teaspoon of fennel seeds in hot water and drink as a tea after eating, or chew on the fennel seeds themselves. Some herbalists will also offer fennel drops that can be mixed with a little water and drunk after eating.”
Bloating can often be a sign of an imbalance in the micro-organisms in the gut. Hannah explained: “Generally speaking, more beneficial species produce a lot less (if any) gas when fermenting fibre, whereas more pathogenic unfriendly species produce a lot more gas.
“Try increasing anti-microbial foods such as garlic (ideally eaten raw in salad dressings or swallowed with water), coconut oil and herbs and spices such as oregano, sage, cloves, turmeric and cinnamon to help reduce levels of pathogenic species in the gut. You could also take a short-course of an anti-microbial supplement such as garlic or oregano for a month or so.”
Live bacteria supplements
At the same time as reducing any unfriendly micro-organisms in the gut, it’s also really important to increase levels of beneficial species such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, said Hannah, as these play a key role in protecting us from pathogens and supporting digestive function.
Hannah recommended: “Try incorporating some traditionally fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, plain live yoghurt, kombucha and miso into your diet on a regular basis. I would also recommend taking a good quality live bacteria supplement such as Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formulation.
“In a recent clinical trial in IBS sufferers, Bio-Kult Advanced reduced abdominal distension by 66 per cent when taken for four months, as well as improving many other digestive symptoms and quality of life. Also in the range is Bio-Kult Candéa, which contains the anti-microbial garlic, in addition to live bacteria.”
Apple cider vinegar
Stomach acid plays a crucial role in the digestion process, said Hannah, killing pathogenic microbes, helping us break down food and absorb nutrients such as minerals and B12.
Se explained: “When stomach acid levels are low (which is surprisingly common), food sits in the stomach for longer, creating a feeling of fullness and bloating. To rectify low stomach acid levels a tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ideally with ‘the mother’) can be mixed with a small amount of water and drunk a few minutes before eating main meals.
“Some people like to use a metal or bamboo straw to protect the enamel on their teeth if doing this regularly. Alternatively, a betaine hydrochloride supplement, which provides the building blocks for stomach acid, can be used. If you are vegan, be aware that these supplements often also contain pepsin, which is derived from animals, so make sure the one your purchase is betaine hydrochloride on its own.”
Having sub-optimal levels of digestive enzymes, which help us to breakdown proteins, fats and carbohydrates, can also be a contributing factor for bloating, according to Hannah.
She said: “Digestive enzymes are naturally found in some foods such as pineapple, papaya and sprouted seeds. However, those with more severe bloating are likely to benefit from taking a digestive enzyme supplement at the start of each main meal.
“For all round support look for one that contains proteases, bromelain or papain (to digest proteins), amylase and lactase (to digest carbohydrates) and also lipase (to digest fats). I would particularly recommended that anyone taking proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to suppress stomach acid take a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement to help them digest their food.”
Bitter flavours help to stimulate the liver and gall-bladder to produce and release bile, which we need to emulsify fats in the diet, said Hannah.
She added: “If your bloating is triggered by fatty meals, try adding in more bitter foods to your diet, such as rocket, watercress, artichokes, chicory, endives and radicchio.
“You could also try taking a few drops of a digestive bitter supplement (made from a variety of bitter tasting herbs) in a small amount of water shortly before eating to help get your digestive secretions going.”
Studies have also shown cutting down on foods from a certain food group can help reduce bloating.
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