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HEALTH Feeling bloated?


Take action and feel less bloated

James Geraghty

The human digestive system is an incredibly complex machine with many essential functions, but it is highly sensitive and does occasionally play up.
Bloating is a very common complaint with a number of underlying causes, from food intolerance and allergy to IBS and poor digestion. Typically it occurs when partly digested foods ferment in the gut and/or there is an imbalance of the organisms that reside in the bowel.
The yeast candida for example, thrives on less healthy foods, particularly sugar and the by-products of partial digestion, which can lead to bloating, wind and flatulence especially if an infection or overgrowth is present.
A good probiotic can help. Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain potentially beneficial bacteria. They help to keep the gut healthy by hampering the growth of harmful bacteria, and can be particularly useful alongside or after a course of antibiotics. Acidophilus is often a popular choice.
Another useful digestive tool is glutamine. The most abundant amino acid in the human body, glutamine is used as a source of energy and fuel by the small intestine to help protect against constant attack from undigested food, antibiotics, painkillers and digestive acids all of which threaten to breach the gut wall.
Every 72 hours these cells are renewed which requires a lot of fuel, a lot of glutamine, and without a sufficient supply, cell replacement falters allowing ‘leakiness’ to occur.  Supplementation with glutamine can help to repair and strengthen our insides, and has also proven effective in the treatment of IBS, Crohn’s disease and stomach ulcers.
Digestive enzymes are also important as they help to break down the food we eat. Raw food naturally contains the proper types and proportions of enzymes needed for good digestion, but when you cook or store food for any length of time, these enzymes are destroyed or degraded.
The body can and does produce enzymes if it can’t source them directly from food, but over time this may tax our digestive processes too heavily and food may not break down efficiently.
A digestive enzyme supplement can help. Viridian Nutrition’s High Potency Digestive Aid contains betaine hydrochloride, a powerful protein-digesting enzyme; lipase, which is important for digesting fats, amylase and protease.
For bloating associated with constipation, you could try the Complete Fibre Complex, while peppermint can help to reduce the symptoms of colic and wind.
Remember though, if you have been experiencing bloating for a while, it is important you consult your GP.

James Geraghty is the managing director of the Molloy’s Lifestyle Pharmacy Group. He has a degree in biochemistry and pharmacy, as well as 15 years’ experience of the health industry. A huge believer in the importance of exercise and wellbeing, he regularly lectures to active retirement and special interest groups around the county.