Today in the healthy gut blog we will continue to cover a popular (in a bad way) issue of stomach bloating. In our previous article we looked at common causes for bloating and how to approach them.
In simple words, the bloat in your gut is either the air you (unwillingly) swallowed or gas produced by the gut itself. While the first is quite straightforward – lose those straws, the latter is much more complex.
Gut bacteria – the good, the bad and the ugly
The bloating in most cases can be put down to bacterial imbalance in the gut – the scientific term for this is bacterial dysbiosis or dysbacteriosis. There are 1000 species of bacteria that can live in a human GTA tract, some are ‘good’, some are ‘bad’ and some can cause the symptoms that are really ugly. Each person would have their own bacterial profile which is never static and changes constantly under influence of the environment, food, medication and psychological factors – stress has proven to have a big influence on a human digestive tract. From time to time a combination of these factors will affect the balance of gut bacteria in a negative way – with bloating being a common sign of it along with diarrhoea or constipation.
Can probiotics help with bloating?
Probiotics are a very popular approach for increasing a population of ‘good’ bacteria in your stomach. You hear a lot about them in gut health discussions and advice and there are many products available off the shelf.
However, when trying to address a particular symptom, such as bloating, the choice of a product and the strain of bacteria it contains should not be done randomly. What works on bloating accompanied with diarrhoea won’t necessarily help with bloating accompanied by constipation, in fact, it can make things worse. The strain which is often mentioned as the helpful one in cases of stomach bloating is Lactobisilis GG, however, to be on a safe side it is advised to seek medical advice for your particular case.
Prebiotics vs Probiotics
Prebiotics are not the same as probiotics, and they are also much talked about in a subject of a digestive health. Prebiotics is the name for the non-digestible food ingredients – mostly plants fibres – which feed the good bacteria. They are available in plant food, mostly vegetables, such as asparagus and leeks, and also as a supplement.
To illustrate the prebiotics/probiotics difference with a metaphor – imagine your digestive system is a garden. To grow the good stuff (good bacteria) in your garden you can add the seeds – those would be probiotic bacteria – or you can add water and fertiliser (prebiotic) to help the seeds grow.
While prebiotics help increase the population of good bacteria in the gut which has its great health benefits, the rapid fermentation can cause gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort, therefore they would not be appropriate for everyone.
Are there other ways to help the gut without medication?
Another approach which we favour is letting the gut balance its bacterial profile naturally (our bodies are very smart at doing this) while dealing with the toxins produced by the ‘bad’ bacteria since it is not bacteria itself but the toxins they produce that are often to blame for the abdominal discomfort. Reduction of bacterial toxins leads to reduction of unpleasant symptoms, with bloating being one of them.