Helping to beat the bloat

Lisa Snowdon has recently spoken on radio and in the press about her struggles with bloating and the supplements she takes and foods she eats to help avoid this potentially embarrassing problem.

The foods we eat can have both a direct impact on digestive symptoms and/or an indirect impact due to natural bodily processes.

Foods to avoid

Some of the factors that can contribute to bloating include the following:

  • Foods that lead to excess air being swallowed (such as chewing gum) or that cause ‘bubbles’ in the stomach (such as fizzy drinks). Chewing gum also sends your body a sign that you are about to swallow food and the body will begin to produce digestive enzymes, which when not used can also exacerbate bloating.
  • The human body finds it difficult to break down a number of fibres and sugars found in some foods that are generally considered healthy. These can include the cellulose in raw vegetables, polyols in plums and oligosaccharides in beans and legumes.
  • Some individuals have intolerances to certain foods. One example is dairy – some people are intolerant or allergic to the proteins in milk and dairy products and others have trouble digesting lactose. Lactose is also a sugar and if an individual is deficient in the enzyme (Lactase) required to break down the lactose, this can lead to symptoms of bloating.
  • Excess sugar of any kind (including artificial sweeteners) can lead to gassiness, particularly in someone with an imbalance of unfavourable to beneficial bacteria in the intestines. The bacteria feed off sugar and excess sugar can help to feed the less-friendly bacteria and cause an imbalance in the gut, which can lead to symptoms of bloating.

Foods to include

Foods can also be used to support digestion, helping to soothe the gut, reduce inflammation and provide and feed the beneficial bacteria.  These foods include the following:

  • Herbs such as ginger, fennel, peppermint and chamomile all have a soothing and relaxing effect on the gut, helping to calm the digestive process and expel gas.
  • Live yoghurt and fermented vegetables and foods such as sauerkraut can help to provide additional beneficial bacteria and balance the gut microflora. Friendly bacteria supplements (such as ProVen Probiotics, which Lisa herself takes daily) can also help to support this.
  • Foods such as asparagus, onions, leeks, garlic and bananas can also help to feed a balanced microflora – but be careful here…they can feed the unhelpful bacteria as well as the beneficial bacteria so can lead to more bloating if the microflora is out of balance.