What can I do for bloating?
Recently there has been a growing interest of gut microbiome and health. As a Nutritionist, I’ve seen countless individuals looking for advice on how to improve their gut health and reduce issues such as bloating, gas and discomfort.
Amongst the different approaches available, pre and probiotics have gained high levels of attention for their ability to help you reach a healthy gut. Let’s explore the evidence behind this and particularly focus on bloating. Get ready for lots of helpful tips and tricks on how to include these into your diet.
Let's talk about the gut microbiome
The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, together known as the gut microbiota, which play a key role in our overall health. These tiny organisms help with digestion, nutrient absorption, immune system support, and even influence our mood and metabolism. Therefore, maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is very important.
Bloating and gut health
Bloating is a common issue that many people face. It often results from an imbalance in the gut microbiome, which can lead to too much gas and discomfort. While sometimes bloating can be a normal response to digestion, other times, when it becomes excessive or ongoing, there are some things that you can do.
Let’s take a look at pre and probiotics.
1. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres that act as food for beneficial gut bacteria. Consuming prebiotics can help the growth of these good bacteria, which in turn, can reduce harmful gas-producing bacteria. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, asparagus, and whole grains.
2. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when enough are consumed. They can help populate the gut with beneficial bacteria and compete against harmful ones. Yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha are examples of foods naturally rich in probiotics.
What's the evidence behind pre and probiotics?
While the idea of promoting gut health with pre and probiotics is promising, let’s take a look at the scientific evidence.
1. Prebiotics: prebiotics have been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They may reduce bloating and improve overall gut health. Including prebiotic-rich foods into your diet is a simple and natural way to support your gut.
Top tips for including pre and probiotics into your diet
1. Diversify your diet: eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes to naturally increase your intake of prebiotics. Aim for a rainbow of colours on your plate to feed different types of beneficial bacteria.
2. Choose fermented foods: add yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods to your diet regularly, and look for options that contain live active cultures for maximum probiotic benefits.
3. Consider supplements: if you have specific gut health concerns, speak with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to decide if a probiotic supplement is right for you. Always make sure the supplement contains strains backed by up by scientific evidence (such as lactobacillus acidophilus and rhamnosus GG, and Bifidobacterium bifidum and longum)
The role of fibre in gut health
In addition to pre and probiotics, dietary fibre plays a vital role in helping gut health. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest, but our gut microbiota can thrive on it via the process of fermentation. Here’s why fibre is your gut’s best friend:
1. Promoting microbial diversity: dietary fibre acts as fuel for the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. When these microbes feed on fibre, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which nourish the cells lining your colon and help maintain a balanced gut microbiome.
2. Regulating bowel movements: fibre adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass and preventing constipation. On the flip side, it also helps to drink lots of water and softens stool, when diarrhoea is the issue.
3. Reducing bloating and gas: gradual increases in fibre intake can help reduce bloating and gas. Soluble fibre, found in foods like oats, beans and fruits, can be particularly helpful in this regard.
4. Lowering inflammation: a fibre-rich diet may have anti-inflammatory effects in the gut, possibly reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases and other chronic gut-related conditions.
When trying to improve gut health and reduce bloating, pre and probiotics have shown the positive affect they can have. While research is ongoing, there is evidence to suggest that including these beneficial components into your diet can contribute to a balanced gut microbiome. The combination of pre and probiotics, and fibre, creates a full approach to gut health, promoting a balanced and booming gut microbiome. Whether you’re wanting relief from bloating, aiming for regularity, or trying to improve overall wellness, this combination is key in your gut health journey.