Stomach bloating: Dr. Oz advises on how to 'beat the bloat'
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Bloating affects up to 15 to 30 percent of the general population. It’s usually a physical clue that our digestive system isn’t working quite as it should, as this can be due to a variety of factors. But there are a number of steps you can take to investigate possible causes and bring the digestive system back into balance. Hannah Braye, nutritional therapist for Bio-Kult (www.bio-kult.com), offers her advice.
1. Play detective
Sensitivities to certain foods can be a big driver for digestive symptoms such as bloating, said Hannah.
She advised: “Play detective and keep a diary of what you eat and symptoms you experience to see if there are any patterns.
“Alternatively, consider an elimination diet, (where commonly aggravating foods, such as gluten, wheat and dairy are removed for a short period of time, before being re-introduced one at a time) or food intolerance testing with a reputable laboratory.”
2. Banish bad bacteria
According to Hannah, a common cause of bloating is an imbalance of gut bacteria.
She explained: “Pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the gut produce more gas than the beneficial sort, which can increase symptoms of bloating.
“Increasing your intake of naturally antimicrobial foods such as raw garlic, onions, oregano, clove, turmeric and coconut oil may help to reduce un-beneficial organisms in the gut.”
3. Rebalance and restore
Provide your gut bacteria with additional support by taking a good quality live bacteria supplement, such as Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula (RRP £9.48 www.bio-kult.com), said Hannah.
She added: “Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula contains 14 different strains of beneficial bacteria, and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, plain probiotic yoghurt, miso kefir and kombucha.”
4. Don’t downplay digestion
To properly digest our food we need to ensure that our digestive secretions are at optimum levels.
Hannah explained: “Low stomach acid, reduced digestive enzymes or insufficient bile production can lead to poor digestion of food and increased fermentation in the intestines, creating more gas. Taking a tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water before eating main meals and eating more bitter foods, such as rocket, chicory, watercress, artichokes and endives can help.
“Pineapple and papaya also contain natural digestive enzymes that help to break down proteins, so try adding them into salads and smoothies or having as dessert.”
5. Soak pulses and legumes
Foods such as beans, pulses and lentils are jam packed full of nutrients and fibre but can cause bloating in many people (even those who do not suffer with other digestive issues).
Hannah advised: “Rather than cut these healthy foods out of your diet, soak them in cold water overnight or for a few hours before cooking to make them easier to digest. This also deactivates compounds called phytates, meaning we absorb more nutrients.”
6. Up your fibre
Constipation and the build-up of waste material in the colon can cause a bloated feeling, a sense of fullness and loss of appetite, said Hannah.
She continued: “Maintaining regular bowel movements through sufficient fibre intake is therefore important. Ideally this should come from fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.”
7. Stop stress
Prolonged stress is bad for health in many ways, but our digestive system is particularly susceptible to its effects, being linked to the brain via the vagus nerve.
Hannah explained: “When we are stressed we produce less stomach acid and digestive enzymes, and our gut bacteria can be negatively affected, increasing the risk of bloating. Remember to take time out for yourself, for example by doing gentle exercise such as walking and yoga, breathing exercises or meditation and getting a good night’s sleep.”
8. Eat mindfully
It is also important to eat mindfully, said Hannah.
Digestion starts in the brain as we take time to prepare our food, process its smell and texture and anticipate eating. She added: “This helps to get our digestive juices going. Cooking from scratch and taking time to enjoy your meal, undistracted by computers or television will increase gastric juices and aid digestion. As will chewing your food well.”
9. Go herbal
Many herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger have a carminative effect on the digestive tract, according to Hannah. And Fennel is particularly effective for bloating.
She advised: “Try soaking a teaspoon of fennel seeds in hot water and drinking it as a tea after eating, or chew on the fennel seeds themselves.”
10. Consult a nutritional therapist
If after implementing the above tips you are still experiencing bloating on a regular basis, consider consulting a nutritional therapist to investigate further.
Hannah explained: “They will take a full case history and can carry our functional testing to identify underlying causes if necessary. Use the BANT ‘Find a Practitioner’ resource to find a qualified practitioner in your area: http://bant.org.uk/bant/jsp/practitionerSearch.faces.”
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