Bloated...? So that little guy in the picture looks a tad gassy. Who doesn’t know that feeling!?
A feeling of fullness after eating is perfectly normal and depending on what you’ve been eating a little extra gas is nothing to write home about. But what can you do if it happens all the time?
Why does it matter?
Looking after your digestive health may not feel like a top priority right now, but your digestive system plays a vital role in your health and wellbeing and looking after your gut is more important than you may realise.
The digestive tract is home to trillions of bacteria – sometimes referred to as microbiota, which make up your microbiome. These microbes play a major role in maintaining good health
Everybody’s microbiota is unique, and lifestyle patterns and genetics are known to play a role in its development. However, one of the main influencers in shaping the gut microbiota across the lifetime is diet.
How does diet help?
A recent paper released by the British Gut Project found that the number one factor in determining a healthy microbiome was the number of different plant foods you ate in a week. Plant fibre appears to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and the more varied the selection of wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, the better.
Microbiome friendly habits;
- Choose wholegrain cereals for breakfast, such as porridge oats
- Switch to wholemeal or granary breads, wholewheat pasta and brown rice
- Leave the skins on your potatoes (jacket or new potatoes)
- Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads
- Try and ensure that for your main meal, half the plate is taken up by vegetables
- Replace deserts with fresh or dried fruit
- For snacks include fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts and seeds
- Probiotic foods such as kefir and yoghurt may encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. Eat them if you enjoy them.
Some digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhoea can also benefit from an increase in dietary fibre; however, if your diet is currently low in fibre, a sudden increase can cause extra wind and bloating. Making gradual changes, eating slowly, chewing food thoroughly and drinking water can help.
What can go wrong?
Occasionally, more definitive action is needed to reset your microbiome. there are some common bacterial overgrowths that can affect the health of your microbiome, and they are easily tested for and corrected.
One well known example is SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. SIBO presents with similar symptoms to IBS. In fact, depending on which research you are looking at, SIBO was found to be a factor in between 30 and 80% of patients with a diagnosis of IBS.
Don’t suffer in silence or accept a casual diagnosis of IBS. There are plenty of things you can do to help get your microbiome and digestive system back in balance. If you regularly take over the counter medication for digestive upsets or suffer frequently with 2 or more of the following symptoms, talk to a healthcare professional about suitable dietary changes or tests;
- abdominal pain