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Beat the bloat

A number of stomach conditions such as IBS and leaky gut can lead to bloating, but there is help out there

Stomach issues and bloating can affect anyone and lead to discomfort and a loss of body confidence, especially during the summer when we’re likely to wear less clothes and visit warmer climes. Rude Health cover star Maeve Madden is no stranger to stomach bloating and other tummy issues. A long time sufferer of IBS, she says that this condition can “cause the body quite a bit of stress which alongside hormonal imbalances can mean that you are not always absorbing all the nutrients from the foods you are eating. The hypothalamus is the control centre of our hormones. It controls our emotions, weight regulation, sleep, when we feel hungry, thirsty and even our body temperature.

Maeve Madden’s famous ‘beat the bloat’ drink

Serves

2

  • 2tbsp organic, raw apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3–4 ice cubes
  • 1tsp maple syrup (optional)

Blitz all the ingredients together in a blender with 600ml water. Pour into glasses and drink immediately. (I recommend doing this through a straw to protect your teeth from the acidic vinegar.)

"Adding the following foods to your diet can really help with the proper function of the hypothalamus: turkey, green beans, oranges, sweet potatoes, basil, bananas, camu camu powder, spirulina, maca powder, salmon and eggs. The sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats that I find really work for me are olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and nuts. These foods help overcome adrenal fatigue because they’re nutrient-dense, low in sugar and contain healthy fat and fibre.”

In fact Maeve has been on a journey to improve her own conditions and now others with her new book Beat your bloat, recipes and exercises to promote digestive health (Kyle Books). In it she says “I like to eat four meals a day... if I eat less I find it hard to control my hunger. My sugar levels slump, I become very grumpy and more often than not this leads to binge-eating or grabbing some kind of sugary bar. If I know I’m eating several meals a day, though, I don’t even think about snacking. If you eat cheese, drink milk or eat ice cream and you become gassy, bloated or feel sluggish, that’s your gut talking to you. Listen to it, it’s telling you something by causing an uncomfortable reaction. The pains you feel are messengers. Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut. Our digestive system is the foundation of our health. So how should you be eating to avoid bloating? Simply, you should always be aiming to eat food in its most natural form. It’s when you start to introduce ‘fake’, highly processed foods that you can begin to really struggle with gut issues.”

Why do we bloat?

“The process of bloating starts way before the symptom shows its face,” says Dr. Nicholas Kelly of Au Naturel. “The individual probably had some kind of indigestion issue and started to use over-the-counter antacids of some kind. What these do is to raise the pH of the stomach, thus cutting down the body's ability to digest proteins, kill bacteria and kill parasites. This then leaves putrified undigested food in the intestines which produces a lot of gas and bloating. Obviously sulphur-forming foods like onions will have an even greater effect. Taking the right mixture of enzymes and friendly bacteria should resolve this but it will not be overnight. Long term the goal should be to fix the whole gut by restoring the right balance of bacteria and encouraging movement of the bowels after every meal.”

Symptoms and help

“Some people get symptoms from their digestive tracts that indicate there is a problem,” says Dr Nicholas Kelly. “The most common ones are excessive gas and bloating, acid reflux, diarrhoea and constipation. A ‘leaky gut’ causes symptoms elsewhere and only a trained professional or very well versed individual is going to make the connection. The symptoms include skin rashes, joint pains and general inflammation anywhere in the body. Some serious conditions such as lupus can be caused by leaky gut.

"Most gut issues are resolved with a combination of carminative herbs like peppermint, plant-based enzymes and friendly bacteria known as probiotics. Ask your friendly health food store advisor or a qualified naturopath for advice on what products to buy that might be specific to your particular condition.”

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