Whether you've overindulged, battled with IBS for a number of years or you get a bit of a pregnant belly look by the end of the day, there’s a few herbs that may reduce bloating, and the pain that often comes along with it.
You always hear Naturopaths banging on about the importance of your gut health. You see, your gut health is central to your health. Get this, gut bacteria manufactures and stores 95% of your serotonin (aka your 'feel-good' chemical involved in your mood) and more than 70% of your immune cells live in your gut! So, it’s pretty clear if your gut is in tip-top shape it has a direct affect on your mood, stress response, detoxification pathways, immune function, not to mention your ability to assimilate nutrients.
Your digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract as well as the liver and pancreas. They now estimate 1 in 5 people experience IBS and symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating and dihorrea or constipation (or alternating between the two).
There's a few key foods you can increase and avoid to manage bloating and support gut health. The first thing to do if you experience IBS or bloating is to take note of what foods trigger the symptoms, and avoid them. Most people benefit from avoiding typically allergic foods, including wheat, soy, dairy and citrus. Also reducing processed sugary foods, coffee, alcohol and red meat, will reduce inflammatory omega 6 levels. Try to up your omega 3's, so include walnuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado and oily fish in your diet.
Herbs To Beat The Bloat:
If you’ve got any overgrowth of ‘bad’ gut bacteria or parasites this herb can work wonders, as it has antifungal, antiparasitic and antibacterial properties
How to take it: Aim to eat 1-2 cloves per day
Contains digestive enzymes, including a protein enzyme called zingibain, which reduces flatulence and aids digestion
How to take it: You can add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger into a mug of warm water and a squeeze of lemon after meals
3. St Mary’s Thistle:
This herb protects liver cells and restores the liver, which promotes healthy elimination of wastes.
How to take it: You can source this as a herbal medicine liquid or supplement from a naturopath or visit a health food store which stocks Herbs of Gold
Reduces spasms and has antiulcer properties, which help manage IBS, food sensitives, ulcers and reflux
How to take it: You can drink chamomile tea to aid digestion after main meals or in between meals.
Don’t forget the benefits of probiotics (‘good-gut bacteria’) and prebiotics (food for probiotics). Foods that naturally contain prebiotics and probiotics includes: onion, leeks, asparagus, garlic, apple cider vinegar, miso soup, tempeh, sauerkraut, full-fat Greek yoghurt, tofu, kefir and kombucha. You may need a specific probiotic supplement such as Lactobacillus plantarum, which is an anti-inflammatory probiotic strain shown to reduce the signs and symptoms of IBS. A good brand is Ethical Nutrient ‘IBS Support’, available from most health food stores and pharmacies.
Remember, herbs and probiotics may reduce the signs and symptoms of your IBS or bloating, but won’t necessarily address the CAUSE. You may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, so for individualised support seek professional advice from your GP and Naturopath. Please note: I do not recommend self-prescribing or cutting out any major foods unless you are under the supervision of a Health Practitioner.
Olivia McFadyen, based in Lane Cove on Sydney's North Shore, is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Herbalist and Homoeopath. Whilst Olivia is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, she is also a realist and understands the demands of modern day life, offering nutrition, herbal medicine and homoeopathic consultations and support without compromising on the enjoyment food can bring. She is passionate about supporting patients to reach their lifestyle goals, optimise their health & develop a healthy yet balanced way of life through naturopathy and homoeopathy. She services her clients by consultations and offering 4 and 12 week natural health programs from her clinic in Lane Cove on Sydney's Lower North Shore.