Bloating is a common digestive complaint characterised by abdominal distension, discomfort or pain. Occasional bloating may not be a concern, however, if bloating is a frequent symptom, it may signify an underlying digestive issue.
Causes of bloating
Bloating can be attributed to several common causes, some of which include irregular bowel movements, poor digestive function or intolerance to certain foods (including gluten or lactose). Irregular bowel movements and poor digestive function can generate bacterial fermentation within the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) leading to retention of gas, another common cause of bloating. Bloating is not a normal part of healthy digestive function and can be avoided.
Beating the bloat
General advice to minimise bloating includes regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, avoiding problematic foods, carbonated beverages, foods high in fructose or sorbitol and maintaining good eating hygiene. Certain herbs, enzymes and nutrients can support digestive function:
- Digestive enzymes, such as protease, bromelains, amylase, lipase, cellulase and lactase, can support healthy digestive function and help to break down proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibre and lactose found in the diet. Microbial derived enzymes, including protease, amylase, cellulase and lactase, are highly stable and active throughout a wide pH range, making them more active and functional for a longer distance through the digestive tract, when compared to pancreatic enzymes. See Digest-Zymes.
- Gentian is a bitter herb traditionally used in Western herbal medicine (WHM) to support healthy digestive function and to relieve symptoms of indigestion, including abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, abdominal distension and feelings of fullness. See Digest-Zymes.
- St Mary’s thistle supports healthy digestion and liver function. It also has a long history of traditional use in WHM to relieve digestive discomfort, including abdominal bloating, distention and a feeling of fullness, and to relieve flatulence. See St Mary’s Thistle 35 000.