Stomach bloating: Dr. Oz advises on how to 'beat the bloat'
Bloating, while very common, can provide us with a physical clue our digestive system is not working as well as it should be.
Registered Nutrition Practitioner Liz Cooper says three factors that can lead to bloating are diet, lack of activity and stress levels.
She explained: “In terms of dietary factors, certain food intolerances (such as dairy, wheat, yeast, and eggs) and particular foods such as beans, pulses or selected vegetables can often be pinpointed as the cause of bloating.
“In fact, any food that is difficult for your body to break down, may not be absorbed so efficiently in the small intestine. These undigested foods can then make their way to the large intestine where the majority of our gut bacteria live. The bacteria will begin to break these foods down and ferment them. In doing so, a number of by-products and gases can be produced which could lead to bloating.
“Additionally, eating on-the-go, being distracted whilst eating, eating too quickly, and eating late at night are also likely to result in poor digestion and absorption, consequently leading to gas production and bloating.”
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Furthermore, symptoms of bloating may be worse during times of stress and anxiety, said Liz. She continued: “This is not surprising given that blood flow is diverted away from the digestive system during times of stress, reducing digestive enzyme production and gut motility. This can result in more undigested food in the intestines and a slower transit to the large intestines, potentially increasing inflammation and becoming a food source for our less helpful gut bacteria, which may then generate more gas.”
To reduce bloating, people should support their digestive system so it can operate effectively, advised Liz.
She said: “Our digestive system produces digestive enzymes to break down the macronutrients in our diet (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) and ultimately increase their absorption. A healthy gut uses mechanical and chemical processes to break down these nutrients into smaller digestible fragments.
“So, taking the time to prepare for eating is important. Start by making your food from scratch using whole foods, the sights and smells will kick-start your digestive enzymes before you’ve even had a taste. Choose foods that are easy to digest, and when you’re ready to eat, make sure you’re feeling relaxed, and have turned off all distractions. Take time to eat slowly, the slower we eat and the more we chew our food, the better we’re able to digest it.”
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Some people may find supplements beneficial – which ones will vary depending on the individual and the underlying cause of their bloating.
Liz said: “For example, if there is an overgrowth of less beneficial microbes, anti-microbial agents could be helpful, while for others, digestive enzymes may need supplementing. However, whilst symptomatic relief can be useful in the short-term, investigating the underlying cause of symptoms is likely to offer more long-term relief.
“Accumulating evidence supports the view that an imbalance of gut microbiota contributes to gut issues, and many individuals with digestive conditions, such as bloating, find taking live bacteria supplements to be helpful.
“Our gut microbiota can support the health of our gut through a number of different mechanisms, examples include; supporting the mucosal gut barrier, producing molecules that are toxic to invading pathogens and producing beneficial compounds. For these reasons, a multi-strain live bacteria supplement might be more helpful, due to the synergistic and additive effects among the individual strains.
“In the largest trial of its kind, using live bacteria supplements in IBS, 400 adult patients with moderate-to-severe symptoms of IBS were randomised to take either Bio-Kult Everyday which contains 14 different strains of live bacteria (RRP £19.98, available to buy from www.bio-kult.com) or placebo for 16 weeks. Bio-Kult Everyday significantly improved the overall severity of symptoms in IBS patients compared to placebo, 66 percent experienced reduced abdominal distension whilst 34 percent of participants were completely symptom-free at the end of the four month trial.”
While the cause of bloating is not always clear-cut, and understanding how to tackle it can be complex, making changes to what you eat, how you eat and how you deal with stress, as well as supporting your gut with targeted supplements, can go some way, at least to alleviating the issue.
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