Bloating can be frustrating, especially when faced with numerous different solutions that all promise relief. So, we've enlisted the help of a doctor to provide expert advice to help you determine what truly works.
Tired of feeling bloated? You’re not alone. Bloating and gut issues are incredibly common in women. But why suddenly do we all feel bloated? And what can we do about it? We’re putting it to an expert, practicing GP Dr Sara Kayat. Here we chat to Dr Sara about gut health, digestive issues, the power of probiotic supplements and what we can do to sooth bloating and discomfort.
Why does it feel like everyone is bloated these days?
Dr Sara: Bloating can be a vague symptom, but it can be a sign of underlying gut health concerns. It can also be a sign of more sinister conditions like ovarian cancer, and this is why it's important that it's become a more widespread concern.
In recent years, there's been an increased focus on gut health and the gut microbiome. This might be because we are now consuming higher fat and more processed foods, which can be more difficult for our gut and our digestive system to process. Perhaps it's because we're leading higher stressed lives, which might affect our digestive tract, or it might be because we're leading more sedentary lifestyles, which can also affect our gut health.
Social media also plays a role in bloating and the awareness of it, and this is because more people are sharing their experiences around gut health and around bloating, and this can help reduce the stigma and allow people to come forward with their issues.
WATCH: Dr Sara Answers Your Questions On Women's Health:
So, what is bad gut health?
Dr Sara: Poor gut health can manifest in several ways. Sometimes it's more obvious. Gut symptoms like bloating, intolerance to certain foods, gas, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pains. Other times it's more subtle things like low energy fatigue, skin irritations, exacerbations of autoimmune conditions.
What can we do about our gut health? Can supplements help bloating?
Dr Sara: There are several different nutrients and vitamins that are imperative in our gut health, and these can include the following fibre, ginger, peppermint, gentian, zinc and vitamin D.
Fibre is a crucial nutrient that's important in gut health. It aids regularity of our bowel movements and prevents constipation, but it's also a prebiotic, which means that our friendly, happy, healthy gut bacteria feeds off it, and that helps aid good gut health. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to reduce nausea, bloating, and other digestive discomforts.
Peppermint has been shown to help reduce bloating and cramping, and it does so by helping to relax the muscles within the digestive tract. Digestive enzymes, digestive enzymes can help to break down food and increase the nutrient absorption from the food. If you have certain conditions, you may need to replace your digestive enzymes.
Gentian root is a bitter herb that can help increase the digestive juices and improve digestion.
Zinc is an essential mineral which improves the integrity of the gut lining and healthy immune function.
Vitamin D can help reduce inflammation within the gut and improve gut diversity.
What about probiotics for bloating?
Dr Sara: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in foods and supplements, and they can help promote a healthy gut by restoring the balance of bacteria within our digestive tract. Certain strains of probiotics have been found to reduce the symptoms associated with IBs, Irritable Bowel syndrome, IBD or Inflammatory Bowel Disease and diarrhoea.
By promoting a healthy digestive tract, probiotics can help improve the nutrient absorption that we can get from food. They can also help stimulate the immune gut health, reducing the risk of infections and other health issues.
How do we choose the best probiotic for bloating?
Dr Sara: Not all probiotics are the same and choosing it can depend on various factors. The strain of probiotic can play different roles in different parts of your body. So for example, lactobacillus acidophilus is found to help support digestive health, whereas lactobacillus rossiae can be used in vaginal health. Probiotics can come in several different forms, including capsules, powders and fermented foods.
The dose of the probiotic may also make a difference. Certain health conditions may require higher doses, but lower doses may be appropriate for general digestive health support. The quality of the probiotic can differ from product to product, so it's important to find a high quality product from a reputable brand.