We’ve all been there – without warning, and with no clear cause, we feel (and look) like we’ve swallowed a football! Bloating is one of the top 5 symptoms that I’m asked about regularly – it seems to be a feature in many niggles, conditions and illnesses, but in fact is really a sign of an unhappy gut. This could be a symptom or a cause, so getting to the root of what’s going on is important.
Let’s take a quick look at what causes an unhappy gut:
- Microbiome – your micro biome is your gut flora, the bacteria that colonise your gut. I could easily spend hours writing about this amazing element to health, and the consequences of disrupting it! What you really need to know is that your gut bacteria don’t just help digest food, they produce nutrients, deal with invaders, clear unwanted excess substances, and even have a part to play in your mood. With such a broad portfolio of talents, you can see how a healthy microbiome is essential to brain and body health.
- Antibiotics destroy bad bacteria as well as good ones, meaning when you take a course of antibiotics for one problem, you’re potentially causing another by wiping out your guardian good guys. Ask yourself if you can trace your discomfort back to after taking antibiotics, and you’ll have an easier job rectifying the balance.
- Inflammation – your gut can become inflamed or sensitive due to medication, stress, a lack of nutrients, or genetic factors. Severe inflammatory conditions include coeliac disease, Crohn’s, diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis, and in these cases inflammation is entrenched and chronic. When the gut is inflamed, it will find its job of digestion harder to do, and struggle with particular foods, or substances like gluten, lactose or fructose. Mild inflammation can become chronic if allowed to continue and worsen, but some conditions like colitis and coeliac disease can have a bio-individual tendency, meaning that there is a higher likelihood of developing the disease without taking special care to prioritise gut health.
- Enzyme insufficiency – certain nutrients are required to produce the enzymes we need to digest and absorb our nutrients. This cycle, if disrupted, can lead to not enough enzymes being produced, leaving our systems struggling with digesting particular foods, big meals, or even digesting anything at all. Some people have a natural insufficiency of certain enzymes, making it difficult to digest dairy, gluten-related proteins, beans/pulses, and FODMAP sugars in fruits and vegetables.
Now let’s look at a few situational reasons for symptoms:
- Stress – the gut-brain axis is a strong one, so allowing yourself to get stressed in that traffic jam to work every day could be one of the factors in your bloating after lunch! Prolonged stress will obviously create more inflammation, leading to ineffective digestion and absorption of nutrients, worsening mood, resilience and health further.
- Mindless eating – ever rushed a sandwich at your desk? Bolted your meal in front of the telly? Not chewing food properly (digestion begins in the mouth) and bad habits like swallowing air (a side effect of chewing gum) can cause bloating and discomfort after eating.
So, what to do to beat that bloat?
- Look after your microbiome – eat fermented foods and live yogurt regularly, take a good broad spectrum probiotic once or twice a week to maintain the balance of strains and amounts you need (you can check out my bespoke formula here: http://www.trinityholistics.co.uk/product/go-pro-full-spectrum-support-probiotics-30-high-strength-capsules/). The recipe this month is a wonderful, healing, prebiotic-nourishing broth that I suggest eating regularly to support gut health. If you do need to take antibiotics (and sometimes we just do), it can take up to 6 months of probiotics treatment to restore the balance, so invest in taking a good probiotic at least every other day, if not daily, to repair this most vital health helper.
- Try taking a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in warm water just before meals to boost your digestive enzymes. If this improves your bloating but doesn’t solve it, you might need a digestive enzyme supplement (you can check out my natural, plant-based bespoke formula here: http://www.trinityholistics.co.uk/product/natural-calm-digestive-enzymes-herb-blend-90-capsules/). Some find that boosting enzymes helps restore their natural production, others that they need them to assist with certain foods or big meals.
- Vitamin C and essential fatty acids – boost your intake of these nutrients to support the maintenance of gut integrity and reduce inflammation.
- Gut healing protocol – for those with bloating or gut conditions, whatever their origin or nature, a healing protocol can resolve issues permanently, or at least bring an element of relief and support. If you’d like to find out more, drop me an email and I’d be happy to discuss what you’d like to address. Get in touch here.
This recipe needs no ingredient list or method – it’s lovely, nourishing, gut-glorifying broth with whatever you fancy. Take a look, and enjoy!