Advice By Concern

Bloating

Bloating is the feeling of increased pressure in your intestines that can result in a visible protrusion (aka a food baby). The build-up in pressure can result from the volume of food or fluid you’ve eaten or from the gas produced by our gut microbiome when they eat fibre that we are unable to digest. It's important to note that bloating is completely normal and is the result of our gut bacteria doing their job! However, it can cause you discomfort and can affect your day-to-day life like, not wearing the clothes you want to wear. Some people can be more sensitive to this bloating so can cause pain, like those with IBS.

If you’re experiencing bloating, we’d recommend the following -  

  • Eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout your day rather than 3 big meals  
  • Avoid swallowing excess air (e.g., from chewing gum or carbonated drink)  
  • Take time eating your meals  
  • Some foods are known to cause more bloating than others such as beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower. Keep a food diary to track if there are some foods you are more susceptible to and decrease your intake  
  • Some foods may help to ease bloating including cucumber, bananas, asparagus, ginger and herbal teas  
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing around mealtimes as this can lead to bloating (this is called tight pant syndrome)  
  • Aim for 20 minutes of exercise per day and practice yoga or mindfulness at least 5 times a week, this can target your gut-brain axis!  

Diarrhoea/loose stools

Diarrhoea or loose stools are caused by too much fluid secreted into the intestine or not enough fluid absorbed by your body. Sudden changes in your bowels may be a result of a stomach bug caused by the invasion of “bad” bacteria, this could be through food, drink or medication. Commonly this can be caused by food poisoning, travelling, otherwise known as travellers’ diarrhoea or antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD). Friendly bacteria supplements may help to prevent travellers’ diarrhoea and AAD by boosting your stomach with good bacteria!  

There are some dietary changes you could consider making which may ease your constipation. Eat smaller and more frequent meals, instead of eating three big meals during your day try and spread the same amount of food to five or six smaller meals  

Limit foods and fluids that may stimulate the colon (which can lead to diarrhoea) such as chilli, high-fat meals, coffee and alcohol. Keeping a food diary may also help you identify certain trigger foods  

Make sure you are staying hydrated. You may want to have an electrolyte solution after periods of diarrhoea such as Dioralyte.  

Long-term diarrhoea can be treated by treating the underlying causes. This may be dietary or lifestyle factors or underlying conditions which may need to be treated through your GP  

Constipation

Constipation is common and affects people of all ages however, it can leave you feeling very uncomfortable.  

There are several diet and lifestyle changes you can make which may help ease bloating  

One common cause of constipation can be not eating enough fibre. By slowing increasing your fibre intake your stools should become softer, larger and easier to pass. Drinking more water will also have this same effect  

Make sure you’re being physically active, aim for at least 20 minutes of exercise per day, this can help you poo more regularly  

Try and develop a toilet routine, keep to a regular time and place. When you have the urge to go, go! How you sit can also influence how easy it is to go. Try these simple tips when you’re on the toilet: have your knees slightly higher than your hips, lean forward with your spine straight and relax your shoulders  

Flatulence

Flatulence, otherwise known as “passing wind” or “farting” is a normal process that people can experience regularly however, excessive flatulence can leave you feeling embarrassed and make you uncomfortable around.  

Fortunately, flatulence can usually be controlled with changes in your diet and lifestyle.  

To help cut down on flatulence you can try eating smaller meals more often and drink and chew your food slowly. Swallowing too much air when eating can cause air to build up in your digestive system, resulting in gas production  

Try herbal teas after your meals such as peppermint, ginger or camomile  

Exercising can help improve how your body is digesting food. If you find you experience gas after a big meal, try and go for a 20-minute walk  

If you think it is something in your diet causing flatulence then keep and food diary to identify trigger foods, you may wish to follow this up with a GP  

Heartburn/acid reflux

Heartburn is a common symptom of reflux where acid travels in the wrong direction, up from your stomach and into your oesophagus. This results in a nasty burning sensation in your chest.  

How to control heartburn and acid reflux -  

  • Avoid large meals and split your meals into smaller portions throughout the day  
  • Allow at least 3 hours between your last meals of the day and bedtime  
  • Keep a food and symptom diary to identify if any foods trigger your heartburn/acid reflux. There has been some evidence that deep-fried foods and whole grains, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits/juices, tomatoes, spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol have all be reported as triggers for some people. This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out! It's important to understand your triggers.  
  • If you get heartburn when sleeping, try lying on your left-hand side – this can help prevent acid from being pushed back up the oesophagus  

Energy

Sleep plays an important role in keeping you well throughout life. Getting enough sleep at the right time can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety  

Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Work out what rime you need up be up every morning and work back from there. Whilst it won’t always be feasible, waking up at the same time each day will encourage a routine.

If you’re struggling to get to sleep, try a hot bath, mediation, reading or listening to a book can help distract your mind and help you unwind.  

Steer clear of caffeine too late in the day that can remain in your system for over 5 hours. Also try and avoid digital screens at least 30 minutes before bed, as this will disturb your natural levels of melatonin which prepares you for sleep.

Our gut bacteria help create B-vitamins which have specific roles in energy production. Alongside B-vitamins they have a role in synthesising certain neurotransmitters include serotonin which have a role in mood, motivation and sleep. As well as contributing to energy production, our gut bacteria also control the absorption of nutrients in the intestines. Therefore, an unbalanced gut (otherwise known as dysbiosis) can affect the creation of energy and leave us feeling lethargic.  

Friendly bacteria supplements can deliver good bacteria to your gut and may help support your energy levels.