What 4 Nutritionists Want You To Know About Bloating
What 4 Nutritionists Want You To Know About Bloating

What 4 Nutritionists Want You To Know About Bloating

A well-functioning digestive system is a critical part of good health, so if you experience regular bloating, this could be a sign that things aren’t working as well as they should be. From common culprits to must-try supplements and hacks for soothing digestive discomfort, here’s what four experts recommend to beat the bloat…
By Tor West
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Image: ALEXANDER KRIVITSKIY/UNSPLASH

Farzanah Nasser

Nutritional Therapist says…

Bloating Is One of The Most Common Health Complaints

“It’s something I see time and again in clinic. A recent study found 18% of us experience bloating at least once a week, and it’s more common in women. Bloating tends to be caused by excess gas in the gut, and this can be caused by several reasons, one of which is poor gut health. Gut infections like IBS and SIBO can lead to food being fermented in the gut, while food intolerances can also be to blame. A well-functioning gut should be able to digest most foods without getting bloated. The healthier our microbiome, the better we can break down food. However, all foods have the potential to cause bloating depending on what’s going on in the gut, and how you’re eating your food. Fizzy drinks, dairy and cruciferous and sulphurous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, onions and garlic) are some of the most common triggers.”

Your Hormones Play A Part

“Your cycle plays a role in bloating. In fact, we have receptors for hormones in the gut, so changes in hormones can affect the gut, too. During the second half of your cycle, after ovulation, progesterone is high. Progesterone slows gut function, which can trigger both constipation and bloating. If you struggle with gut-related symptoms at this stage in your cycle, consider eating more magnesium-rich foods – nuts and seeds, dark chocolate and avocado – and taking a magnesium supplement.”

Targeted Supplements Can Be Helpful

“There are several supplements that can support gut health, but it’s helpful to find out why and where the imbalance is coming from. While probiotics provide some good bacteria which can help with the breakdown of food, it’s also worth considering bitter tinctures, which are most effective when taken 20 minutes before eating to stimulate the production of digestive juices to prevent bloating; as well as digestive enzymes, which aid the digestion of protein and fat.”

Starting A Meal With A Rocket Salad Is A Good Idea

“Many cultures start meals with bitter foods like a green salad, olives or fermented foods. These foods increase bile flow, which can support digestion and reduce bloating. Try starting meals with a rocket salad drizzled with a small amount of good quality olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar (I alternate between Citizens of Soil and Willy’s) and see if you notice a difference.”

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Clarissa Lenherr

Nutritionist says…

Mild Bloating Is Normal

“We all get bloated sometimes – occasional, mild bloating is normal, especially after a big meal, drinking fizzy drinks or chewing gum. However, if your bloating is chronic and is impacting your quality of life, or you find you’re painfully bloated, this is a sign your gut needs some TLC. You should consider working with a gut health specialist to get to the root cause.”

Probiotics Aren’t Everything

“Probiotics can be useful if you suffer from IBS or diarrhoea, or if you’ve recently taken antibiotics, which can disrupt the gut microbiome. A high percentage of people who suffer from bloating may find a probiotic supplement helps tone down their symptoms better than medication. However, it’s important to remember that every person is individual and will have different results when taking probiotics. For some, it can make symptoms even worse. I rate Pure Encapsulations saccharomyces boulardii and Inessa Advanced Biotic Complex."

Water Retention Could Be To Blame

“If you eat a lot of salt, you’re more prone to water retention and bloating. If you suspect a high sodium intake is to blame, try reducing the amount of processed and convenience foods you eat – these often contain excessive amounts of salt. Potassium-rich foods like bananas, oranges, spinach and sweet potatoes can help balance sodium levels in the body and reduce water retention.”

Stress Plays A Part

“When you experience stress, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which influence the muscles in the digestive tract, leading to changes in gut motility. For some, stress causes the gut muscles to contract more vigorously or erratically, while for others, it may slow down movement, leading to bloating. Stress can also disrupt the balance of your gut microbiota, and can also change our eating habits, leading us to eat more processed or high-fat foods, which contribute to bloating.”

Slow Cooked Food Is Easier To Digest

“Slow cooking methods can make protein tender and easier to digest. I especially like doing this with beans, a common bloating culprit. Steaming vegetables is also a gentle cooking method that retains nutrients while making them easier to digest, especially compared to raw or heavily fried vegetables.”

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Dr Caitlin Hall

Chief Dietitian & Head of Clinical Research at Myota says…

We All Have Different Triggers

“It may sound counterintuitive, but some high-fibre foods can lead to increased gas and bloating. This doesn’t mean you should avoid these foods – in fact, fermentable fibre is one of the best ways to support a healthy gut and avoid long-term digestive disorders – but you may need to be careful about the quantity and frequency of how often you consume these foods if you think you’re sensitive. Artificial sweeteners – found in low-calorie and sugar-free products – can also trigger bloating, while some women are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.”

Regular Bowel Movements Will Keep Your Tummy Happy

“Research suggests one of the most common culprits of bloating is constipation. Even if you have a daily bowel movement, you may not be completely emptying your bowels. You might be passing 70% of your waste, but the remaining 30% builds up in your system, leading to blockages and worsening constipation. If your stools are small, hard pellets that are tricky to pass, this is a good indication you’re constipated. You should also feel completely emptied after going to the loo.”

You May Be Sensitive To FODMAPs

“Studies have shown strong links between FODMAPs – a type of carbohydrate found in foods like beans, lentils and broccoli – and digestive symptoms like gas and bloating. FODMAPs ferment in the gut and produce gas, leading to bloating, and some of us are more sensitive than others. If you suspect you are sensitive to FODMAPs – and this includes some people with IBS – how you prepare your food can aid digestion. Boil or bake high-FODMAP foods to break down some of the fermentable carbs, making them more tolerable, and try soaking and rinsing legumes before cooking to remove the compounds that contribute to bloating. Incorporating digestion-friendly spices and herbs like ginger, peppermint and fennel can also provide natural relief from digestive discomfort.”

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Claire Barnes

Registered Nutritionist says…

Processed Food Makes Things Worse

“Whether it’s white bread, pastries, sweet treats or seemingly healthy foods like protein bars, ultra-processed foods and refined carbs encourage the growth of harmful bacteria at the expense of beneficial, good bacteria. This can lead to bloating. Your gut is full of different species of bacteria – some bacteria thrive on the fibre from grains, while others prefer the fibre from fruit and vegetables. Harmful bacteria, however, will feed on most things, so think about cutting out processed food if you are prone to digestive issues.”

Seed Cycling Can Lead To Fewer Hormonal Symptoms

“Oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout our cycle. As one drops and the other becomes more dominant, this can lead to an increase in premenstrual symptoms like bloating. While fluctuating hormones are normal, some women can experience hormonal imbalances, especially if there is more oestrogen in relation to progesterone. Supporting nutrition throughout the cycle can help. Increase your intake of foods like berries, garlic, turmeric and broccoli, which support the metabolism of oestrogen in the liver. Seed cycling – where flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are consumed daily during the first half of the cycle and sesame and sunflower seeds are eaten during the second half – has also been shown to regulate hormonal balance.”

You’ll Need To Go Slowly When Introducing Kefir

“When we increase our intake of prebiotic fibres or introduce fermented foods – like sauerkraut, kefir or kimchi – there’s an increased chance of experiencing temporary bloating. This can occur due to an excess of fermentation in the gut by our microbes, or potentially through the dying-off of more harmful bacteria, which may increase toxins and gases when they die. In these circumstances, the temporary bloating could be a good sign that the gut microbiome is rebalancing itself. However, if this bloating feels uncomfortable, scale back on these foods and gradually increase the amount every week.”

Keep An Eye On Your Symptoms

“If you’ve experienced bloating for three weeks or more, regularly feel bloated (more than 12 times per month), have a swelling or lump in your tummy, or have bloating along with being sick, diarrhoea, constipation, weight loss or blood in your stool, you should contact your GP. Keeping a diary of when the bloating occurs, how severe it is, what you were doing when it started, what you’ve recently eaten and what helps or worsens it may all be helpful information for your doctor to better understand your symptoms.”

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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