Can improving gut health and taking supplements improve bloating?
Inflammation and bloating: what’s the difference?
First, it’s worth pointing out that different types of bloating can cause expansion in different places. Inflammation before your period can cause bloating just below your bra strap, while poor gut health can see your stomach bloat in a whole different way.
Inflammation can cause bloating, but the two are not synonymous. chronic inflammation is linked to serious health conditions like diabetes, colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Can supplements help you unblock?
Alas, whatever many wellness brands may suggest, it’s not that simple. “As with everything, there are different things that can contribute to bloating,” says registered nutritionist Marjolein Dutry van Haeften.
“There is bloating around your period, and if you only bloat right before it’s because it’s partly related to the swelling of the bowel and uterus. You’re more prone to inflammation in this luteal phase because your body produces more inflammatory chemicals – it’s actually what pushes out your lining.
She recommends focusing on anti-inflammatories, citing that “people find really good results taking a really good quality omega-3, for example, because it helps reduce inflammation.”
If your bloating is more gut-related (meaning it lasts all month and is digestive in nature), van Haeften recommends identifying exactly what’s going on before shelling out expensive supplements.
“Some people have bloating quite high up, just under their bra, as opposed to lower abdomen bloating. And some people have bloating from the top down – so depending on where the bloating is, it gives us some clues about what might be going on with the bacteria,” she says. Stylist.
Why Probiotics Aren’t Always the Answer to Gut Health Issues
“It’s really tricky, because the first thing a lot of people ask about is probiotics and if they can help,” van Haeften continues. “But you really want to know what’s going on with the gut bacteria first, because different probiotics will contain their particular strains.”
Different strains of probiotics serve different purposes. If you have bloating because you have an overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria, taking a random probiotic probably won’t help. A better approach, says van Haeften, is to think about improving the whole gut terrain — and that means starting with making sure the bacteria has the right kind of food available.
“Dietary fiber and supplements are a great way to reduce bloating by rebalancing gut bacteria. The caveat, because that’s never an easy answer, is that if you suffer from a lot of bloating and react to a lot of foods, you want to take it really, really, really slowly increasing your fiber levels,” she added. warns.
If you’re not nearly 30g of fiber right now, your body will freak out if you suddenly start gulping down bowls of bran flakes and flax seeds.
Ideally, you will eat first and slowly. But van Haeften admits that some people need something a little more potent than adjusting fiber levels, and that’s when you consider more specific supplements to reduce levels of inflammatory bacteria.
When asked to Jessica Sepel, registered dietitian and founder of supplement company JSHealth, she says Stylist that turmeric and omega-3s are great for reducing all kinds of inflammation. “Turmeric has been shown to maintain and support liver health and act as a hepatoprotectant to protect the liver. Turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant, which can support free radical damage in the body,” she explains, adding that “fennel is used in Western herbal medicine to support normal digestion.”
But it’s worth pointing out that these are all whole foods in their own right, so you can just start adding fennel tea into your day (maybe start replacing a cup of coffee with an herbal one ), eat more oily fish and nuts, and have a turmeric milk in the evening (remembering to mix it with a bit of cracked black pepper which makes the turmeric more bioavailable).
Collagen: an underrated gut hero supplement?
Our intestinal wall is very thin, so if you have a bacterial imbalance, it can break down and become damaged. If you suffer from abdominal bloating and are considering taking supplements, van Haeften recommends thinking long-term about what you can do to improve the health of your gut lining. “That’s where things like collagen can come in. But the thing about collagen is that it’s really abundant in the body, and your body is going to prioritize it where it needs it most. So , it may need it to go to joints or it may need to go to other connective tissues.
Often you don’t end up absorbing the collagen because it breaks down into amino acids, which your body then does with it as it wants. In theory, it may benefit gut health, but you don’t really have control over how the body uses it.
What to do if you are regularly bloated
The first step, says van Haeften, is going to your GP. “We need to remember that constant bloating that doesn’t change at all is something your GP should be aware of.
The second step is to dig deeper into your current and past digestive history. “I would ask them if it lasts all day or if it’s worse at a specific time of day. Have they avoided certain food groups or do they know if they have trigger foods? And then ideally we’d be looking at tests to see what’s going on in their gut – if they’ve really tried everything, then you really want to know what part of the puzzle is missing.
She says, for example, that if people have a history of antibiotic use, it can cause intestinal problems years later: “They may not have taken as many antibiotics in past two years, but that their history has a lot of antibiotics. This definitely indicates that their microbiome will have passed through the wringer.
Other options include keeping a food diary, tracking fiber (“sometimes people think they have more than they have”), and then examining the mechanics of digestion. “It sounds so simple, but making sure people are chewing their food properly – without looking at a screen when they’re eating because it will reduce your digestive capacity – can be hugely powerful.” And then, of course, there is the stress.
Stress in London and other cities is virtually unavoidable, but there are things we can do to bring the stress spiral under control. “How much time does someone dedicate to mindfulness? Because sometimes they’ll say, ‘Yeah, I go to yoga once a week’, but you really want to make time for yourself throughout the day. , every day.
Once you’ve gone through all of this, it is when you can start thinking about supplementing digestive enzymes. In other words, supplements come pretty far down the road.
“I often tell people: we complement each other like an intervention. Ideally, we want to get to the point where our body is doing everything the supplement is doing on its own. So you never really want to be on something forever unless there’s a really good reason behind it.