By Kym Lang, nutritionist for Enterosgel (www.enteromed.co.uk)
We all know what it’s like to feel bloated – an uncomfortable heaviness in the stomach and, if you’re unlucky, a distended tummy too.
If you’re tired of unbuttoning your trousers after lunch despite a healthy diet, there’s hope. Nutritionist Kym Lang from Enterosgel (www.enterosgel.co.uk), shares six ways to say bye-bye to bloating:
Eat the right kind of fibre
If your bloating gets better after a trip to the toilet, constipation is a likely cause. Many people turn to fibre when they notice bloating and constipation, switching to bran, brown rice and multigrain bread. You do need fibre to stay regular and keep your bowel healthy, but a high intake of these insoluble fibres can just be too much of a good thing. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel in the gut, softening stools and helping you beat the bloat. Try porridge oats and root vegetables – carrots, parsnips and celeriac are good low-bloat choices, and great with a Sunday roast.
Switch to sourdough
If you have problems digesting bread, you’re not alone. But the good news is you can still enjoy your favourite comfort food. Head to the bakery and buy a loaf of spelt sourdough bread. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that’s lower in gluten which people with sensitive stomachs can find it easier to digest. The sourdough process further reduces the chance of bloating. Fermentation, key to sourdough baking, breaks down gluten as well as fructans, short-chain carbohydrates – also known as FODMAPs – thought to be a key cause of stomach distension. It’s a double whammy, plus it makes great toast (just stick to two slices).
Cut the salt
While convenience foods are a godsend, their high salt levels can make your body hang onto water – explaining that far-too-familiar heavy feeling in your abdomen. Too much salt in your diet throws out the balance of minerals regulated by the kidneys, so go easy on it. Boost flavour by using herbs, spices and citrus in cooking instead, and watch out for hidden salt in packaged foods like soup and baked beans. Choose those colour-coded green for salt levels, or switch to low-sodium versions of your favourites. Aim for no more than 2.4g of sodium per day, equivalent to 6g of salt.
Get gas under control
A healthy gut microbiome promotes immunity and good digestive health, but gut bacteria need constant fuel to thrive. While they are busy fermenting fibre from vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholegrains as part of a healthy digestive process, increased gas is an unfortunate side effect. And that often means uncomfortable or even painful bloating, if you’re susceptible to it. To effectively combat bloating, try Enterosgel ( from £18.80 www.enterosgel.co.uk), a tasteless gel that you mix with water and drink an hour before or after a meal. It binds to substances that are responsible for the excess gases and bloating, safely and gently removing them with your stools. It’s also drug-free and contains no additives, so you can keep on eating your 5 a day, without the side effects.
Ditch the sweeteners
If you’re trying to cut out sweet foods, sugar-free chewing gum and sweeteners can seem like a sensible choice. But sugar replacements like xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol, known collectively as polyols, can cause bloating – especially when you turn to them every day. Your gut bacteria feast on these sugar-based alcohols, creating excess gas which leads to stomach distension. Polyols are also FODMAPs, food molecules which can aggravate irritable bowel syndrome. Instead of buying flavoured yogurt, buy plain yogurt and top it with cinnamon for natural sweetness. And try to cut down your gum habit; you’ll also swallow less air, another way of beating bloating.
Remember that old saying, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper”? Going to bed after a big dinner can wreak havoc on your digestion. Food takes about eight hours to travel through the stomach to the small intestine and colon, which explains that heavy feeling the morning after. Meat and rich food can take another day to completely digest. Find ways to make lunch your main meal, for instance choosing a grain-based salad with lean protein like chicken or tuna. Then eat a lighter dinner based on veggies and wholegrains, at least three hours before bed. Your stomach will thank you in the morning.