Don't Rock the Bloat: A Nutritionist's Guide to Optimal Gut Health

Don't Rock the Bloat: A Nutritionist's Guide to Optimal Gut Health

By Rhiannon Lambert 

Day after day I receive messages regarding bloating, it has almost become a cool thing to post about on social media and winge about to our friends. It is remarkable that people now take an interest in their gut health. This is an area that is continuously researched with new information emerging every single day and as a registered nutritionist I feel it’s important to ensure the correct facts are out there. Remember bloating can be a natural process for some of us occasionally but if it is severe it must be addressed.

There is such a buzz surrounding ‘friendly bacteria’ at the moment, it’s probably added to your latest favourite health drink or food but does this actually has scientific basis to it?

Ultimately, a lot of our immunity is dependent upon our gut and the microbes that live within it. In fact, there’s so much bacteria inside our bodies it can weigh up to 2kg alone and interestingly, about 10% of what we eat feeds the bacteria. So it makes sense that to keep our bacteria happy, bacteria may have an effect on our appetite, food preferences and our weight management, as our microbes need to be fed too! These are living organisms inside our digestive tract and with so much research being undertaken; it’s definitely an area of significant interest.

It’s important to understand that very few gut bacteria actually live in the small intestine, they tend to be found towards the end of the digestive process. It’s essential for our health that the equilibrium in the gut remains this way because the minute bacteria travel up the small intestine in ‘the  wrong’ direction, you get a bacterial overgrowth which is often associated with symptoms such as; bloating, joint pain and gastrointestinal infections.

On the subject of bloating, please know that it’s 100% natural and happens to us all. However, I appreciate it can be troubling for many who experience especially painful symptoms as well as suffering from IBS. If this is the case, I would encourage you seek support from a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian before undertaking any self-prescribed dietary regime.

10 COMMON CAUSES OF BLOATING

  1. Eating too fast and swallowing excess air: Try and chew your food slowly and eat mindfully away from technology
  2. Excess wind: Excessive flatulence can be caused by swallowing more air than usual or eating food that's difficult to digest.
  3. Tight or high wasted clothing: Yes you heard me, if your trousers are high wasted and you sit down you can often trigger bloating from something as simple as the clothes you wear
  4. Food Intolerances: Certain foods may not agree with you but always seek a professionals guidance, never cut out a whole food group or food alone
  5. Constipation: You may need to look at your overall diet and lifestyle
  6. Dehydration: You should be aiming for at the very least 1.5L of water a day, so many of us are still not drinking enough.
  7. PMS: It’s unavoidable for so many of us but don’t be so hard on yourself around that time of month it is completely natural.
  8. You ate a big meal: Bloating is natural and in the morning you will wake up feeling back to normal
  9. Stress: Stress has a massive impact on our digestive health
  10. Medication: It may be a side effect of medication so check with your GP

For more information, please contact a Registered Nutritionist or visit the NHS website.

Do try and remember that it is natural to go through periods of bloating and our digestion is often referred to as a second brain inside our body, it really does rule the roost when it comes to so many aspects of everyday life, stress, emotions and much more. Try and focus on how you eat your food, become more mindful about the choices and the time you choose to eat. Switch off the TV and enjoy it, food is there to fuel us, it doesn’t have to be the enemy.