If you frequently complain of “feely gassy”, or “having a heavy feeling in your abdomen” it’s likely that you suffer from bloating.
Bloating has been reported in up to 96% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and is estimated to affect around 20-30% of the population. However, despite its prevalence, the possible underlying causes means that it continues to respond poorly to therapeutic interventions. There are some dietary interventions that you can implement today to help you prevent and even relieve some bloating symptoms. So let’s address them!
Some foods are notorious for causing digestive issues such as bloating and gas, but luckily studies have shown that restricting specific triggers can help achieve symptom reduction. In fact, It is recognised that some dietary habits may be responsible for bloating and many individuals link their symptoms to with certain foods.
For example, some of the main trigger foods tend to be lactose, wheat, fruits (fructose), fatty foods, gassy foods (such as beans and onions) and some forms of dietary fibre.
Reducing FODMAP foods has been proven to be highly effective in some people (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). FODMAP foods tend to be poorly absorbed or slowly absorbed in the small intestine which can contribute to a sensation of bloating in sensitive individuals .
In one study that compared a low FODMAP diet, a high FODMAP diet and traditional diets, the results showed that patients on a low FODMAP diet experienced a statistically significant reduction in pain and bloating compared with those eating a traditional diet .
However, it is essential to note that not everyone should avoid FODMAPs. In fact, FODMAPS are considered healthy for most people and function as prebiotics. Prebiotics are helpful for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
If you notice an increase in bloating after consuming milk and milk-based products, you may be lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar that is naturally present in milk and milk products. In fact, it’s estimated that 68% of the world’s population has lactose digestion issues.
Do not worry if this is you because there are great-tasting alternatives to lactose-containing products. Such as plant-based milk alternatives. You may also want to incorporate foods that into your diet foods that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus such as coconut yoghurt. Favorable clinical responses have been seen from yoghurts containing L. acidophilus. Just check the label on the yoghurt and ensure the cultures are active and live.
Lay off the Fizzies
If you already experience sensitives to gassy foods, it’s likely that carbonated drinks will also contribute to your bloating. Carbonated beverages such as fizzy drinks may act as an additional source of gas by contributing to your intra-abdominal gas content. The normal individual has approximately 100–200 cc of gas within the gastrointestinal tract, which increases after eating, especially in the colon.
Therefore, in theory, the increased intraabdominal gas content from carbonated drinks may contribute to bloating. It may therefore be prudent to switch your fizzy drinks with water, herbal teas and juice.
Eating mindfully is key and can provide relief to many bloating complaints. If you find that you often scoff or woof down your food after 1-2 bites, take your time and slow down because the digestive process begins in your mouth first. When you do not thoroughly masticate your food, you may not produce enough enzymes to break down your food, contributing to bloating and other digestive complaints.
Time of the month
If you notice that you tend to bloat a few days before your period, your hormones may be playing a key role in your symptoms. Bloating is twice as common in women as men and is often associated with menses . Up to 85% of women report some symptom of PMS in the days leading up to their period. Which can include abdominal bloating, distension, and water retention. If this is you, you may find that increasing B6, magnesium and potassium-rich foods (such as green leafy vegetables) may offer you some support? A pilot study has found that modified-release magnesium was effective in reducing PMS symptoms in women with PMS.
Excess stress can adversely affect health. If you notice that the severity of your bloating symptoms becomes exasperated during periods of stress, it may be prudent to implement some lifestyle adjustments. Some physiological effects of stress include inhibition of digestion and stimulation of colonic motility, contributing to the risk of bloating. In some studies, patients with bloating revealed increased anxiety and depression, which allows the hypothesis that psychological distress may contribute to the perceived severity of bloating .
So, what lifestyle changes can you implement today:
- Give yourself an abdominal massage. Research has shown that abdominal massages can reduce the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms and is a safe, effective, and noninvasive form of bowel management.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Sugar intolerance seems to be frequent in individuals with functional abdominal bloating and gas-related complaints. Also, sugar substitutes, like sorbitol found in some sugar-free chewing gums can contribute to bloating.
- Mild exercise can help reduce symptoms of abdominal bloating and enhance clearance of intestinal gas
- Mindful eating. Your body is ill-prepared for food when you are stressed or rushed. Take two minutes to still your mind before eating. Chew slowly
- Drink carminative teas for bloating and gas. Carminatives help to expel gas from the intestines, and they do that by increasing motility and will help with the pain of distension, so it’s a lovely tea to have 1 hour or more after meals and will helps support symptomatic control. Just ensure that there are no contraindications with any medications that you are taking.
- Spend time outside daily. Fresh air is good to reduce stress and shift energy.
- Implement and recognise things in your life that recharge you and use tools to nurture yourself, like being out in nature.
Jeneve has is a Nutritional Therapist and a SIBO Doctor Approved Practitioner. She has a specialist interest in gastrointestinal, autoimmune and mental health disorders. Nutritionist – Jeneve Modesta Clarke www.naturesphysiciannutrition.com