If this is you then it’s likely that you are suffering from poor digestion which can result in your overall health suffering too as your body can’t absorb all the nutrients you’re eating.
Luckily there are five simple things you can do to relieve these symptoms and improve your overall health.
Gas and bloating are signs that you are not digesting your food well enough. To help your body digest your food more easily there are some very basic things you can do:
- Chew your food thoroughly - aim to have reduced your mouthful to liquid mush before you swallow. This allows the digestive enzymes a greater surface area to work and do their job properly.
- Take a digestive enzyme - these enzymes help break down your food but if you don’t have enough of them your food ends up going through your system without being properly broken down. This can result in malabsorption so even if you are eating a healthy balanced diet your body might not be feeling the benefit and you might start to feel run down and lacking in energy. You may also end up with an imbalance of your gut bacteria which can cause lots of health problems including possibly, difficulty in losing weight. Plus you’re likely to experience diarrhoea and indigestion.
- Restore gut bacteria with probiotics - a lot of research indicates that an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut is a possible cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This may be why many people find certain antibiotics help as they kill off the bad bacteria. However, antibiotics may also be a trigger of IBS because they work by killing all bacteria, including the friendly ‘good’ bacteria – which play an integral part in gut health. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. A systematic review  of the efficacy of probiotics in IBS has found that they are significantly effective. Probiotics have a natural antibiotic effect without eradicating species that keep you healthy.
To promote the good bacteria in your gut, reduce your intake of sugar and refined foods – these encourage bad bacteria to proliferate. Eat plenty of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and some live natural yoghurt – these help to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. I would also recommend a good quality probiotic supplement to help restore levels.
- Heal and repair your gut - your gut is a very sensitive organ and if you’re not digesting well, have an imbalance of bacteria or are eating too many irritating foods, the gut lining is prone to becoming inflamed and ‘leaky’. It is essential to restore balance before healing and repair can take place. There are a number of substances that aggravate a leaky gut by causing irritation to the delicate lining. The most important to avoid are alcohol, caffeine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, antacids, food additives and spicy foods. An amino acid called glutamine can help repair and maintain a healthy small intestinal lining. Another key to gut healing and repair are omega 3 fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds. These have been shown to help in calming an inflamed gut.
- Leaky gut and allergies - allergies are the most common cause of digestive problems. Studies have found that IBS sufferers have significantly raised levels of IgG antibodies to specific foods. Researchers at the University of York devised an ingenious study . They tested 150 IBS sufferers using an IgG allergy test and gave their doctors either the real or fake results, along with a supposedly ‘allergy-free’ diet to follow for the next three months. At the end of the three-month trial there was a significant improvement only in those people on their true allergy-free diet. What’s more, those who stuck to it most strictly had the best results. Level of compliance, on the other hand, didn’t make a difference in those on the sham diets.
If you think you are reacting to foods, you need to test for and eliminate food allergies. I recommend having a simple IgG Food Intolerance test, available from www.yorktest.com. If allergies are present, offending foods should be eliminated for three to four months to allow the immune system to settle down.
Following the above steps should help you to digest your food properly and help you to absorb all the nutrients you are eating so that your overall health, energy and resistance to infections improves.
- P Moayyedi et al., 'The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: as systematic review', Gut, (2010), vol 59, pp 325-332.
- W Atkinson et al., 'Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial', Gut, (2004), vol 53, pp 1459-1464.
- S Buhner et al., 'Activation of human enteric neurons by supernatants of colonic biopsy specimens from patients with irritable bowel syndrome', Gastroenterology, (2009), vol 137(4), pp1425-1434.