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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > May 2018 > BLOATING Find the root of your discomfort

BLOATING Find the root of your discomfort

Although bloating sounds trivial, it can have a big impact on your quality of life and may be a sign of something more serious. Jo Waters gets the inside story from a top gastroenterologist, with whom she has co-authored a new book on the subject

WE’VE ALL HAD TO UNDO OUR WAISTBANDS after overindulging in a big Sunday lunch. But when bloating is persistent, it’s worth having it checked out, according to Professor Julian Walters, consultant gastroenterologist at Imperial College London and co-author of What’s Up With Your Gut?

Persistent bloating usually has an underlying cause, explains Julian. ‘It can occur as the result of eating certain foods, bacterial infections, autoimmune conditions and underlying gut conditions. There are so many causes, in fact, that getting to the root of the problem can be difficult. But if symptoms are persistent and causing you discomfort it’s definitely worth seeing your doctor’, he says.

‘Over the years I’ve seen too many people who have put up with their symptoms and not got any answers. Others have been told they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and never found an effective treatment for the bloating. But in many cases simple tests or the right dietary advice may be able to resolve bloating and accompanying symptoms.’

‘ Getting to the root of the problem can be difficult, but if symptoms are persistent and causing you discomfort, it’s worth seeing your doctor ’


1 Too many FODMAPs

FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These shortchain carbohydrates occur naturally in a variety of foods, but some people have difficulty absorbing them in the small intestine. The sugars then move to the large intestine, where gut bacteria ferments them.

‘This stretches the sensitive bowel, causing bloating, wind and diarrhoea’, explains Julian. ‘Most people with normal gut function and bacteria can digest FODMAPs, but in those with a sensitive gut and altered gut flora they can cause troublesome symptoms.’

FODMAPs were first identified in a paper published by the University of Monash, Australia, in 2005 and have been intensively researched over the past 13 years. The foods highest in FODMAPs include onion, garlic, beetroot, savoy cabbage, apple, pear, mango and, in susceptible individuals, milk and dairy products, too. Bread also contains FODMAPs and may cause problems.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Make bloating a thing of the past with our guide to the real (lesser known) causes - and how to beat them for a flatter tum. We also show you how to look good naked (or on the beach!) with the best methods for all-over toning. Find out how to eat to cut your risk of type 2 diabetes, with the five diets recommended by Diabetes UK and, if you or someone you know is a smoker, Dr Dawn Harper offers practical advice (and some surprising health stats) to help you quit. With over 30 recipes to help you cook light, it's all you need for a healthy start to summer!