I need to improve my digestive health


I need to improve my digestive health. I eat enough fiber, drink water and eat low fat, but I still suffer from bloating and flatulence. I can’t find prebiotic food like kimchi and Kombucha in shops. I can’t drink probiotic yogurt drinks because I’m lactose intolerant. Please help!

First I would suggest you make an appointment to see your doctor about the cause of bloating and flatulence (gas). Ask your doctor about possible gluten intolerance. Gluten is the protein found in grains which in some people can cause bloating and gas. Talk to your doctor about any gas reducing medications (Gas-x or beano) you may have taken. Next, I would suggest your doctor refer you to a dietitian. I would highly recommend you keep a week of food diaries with everything you eat or drink to discuss with the dietitian who can read your medical chart after seeing your doctor.

While you are lactose intolerant, your symptoms suggest you may have other gastrointestinal issues assuming you are not eating any dairy (milk, cheese, cottage cheese yogurt, ice cream, etc) now.

Gas can be the result of eating gas-producing vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli or Brussel sprouts. Onions, dried beans and dried peas can also cause gas as they are high in fiber. While you wait to see your doctor, you could eliminate these gasey vegetables for 3 days to see if your symptoms reduce. Do you take any lactobacillus or Lactaid pills when you eat dairy?

You say you eat enough fiber, but for people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a moderate amount of fiber is recommended not high fiber. So how much fiber do you eat each day? Do you have problems with constipation even with eating enough fiber? Does the bloating and gas symptoms reduce after having a bowel movement? Often women become constipated the week prior to their menstrual cycle when their bodies start retaining fluid in preparation. Do you get diarrhea?

When you eat the recommended amount of fiber (25 grams per day for adult women), you also need to drink sufficient liquid as insoluble fiber like whole grains and bran absorb water in your intestines to help clean out waste. To help determine if you are drinking sufficient liquid, look at the color of your urine during waking hours (assuming you have normal kidney function). Urine should be light yellow in color and have no odor unless you ate asparagus which will cause odor in urine.

Some fibers and sugars can cause gas in the intestines. Do you eat any diet candies or gum with sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol?

Why do you eat low fat rather than moderate fat for healthy eating habits?  Are you working to lose weight or for another reason?

Do you burp? That can be caused by swallowed air when you eat too fast or talk while you are eating. Try slowing down the rate at which you eat food and don’t talk until you are done chewing food in your mouth.

Do you drink carbonated beverages including beer? If yes, then the carbonation can cause you to burp or bloat with gas.  After eliminating gasey vegetables (listed above), eliminate all carbonated beverages for the next 3 days to determine if the bloating and gas may be due to carbonated beverages.

Walking after a meal can help move food along your intestines.  A short 20 to 30-minute walk at a normal to slow pace would be sufficient.

Please write back with your reply. I would not recommend making any drastic changes in your eating until you see your doctor and dietitian. Ask your dietitian about taking probiotic supplements with your medical history after your doctor reaches a diagnosis for your bloating and gas. Also, talk to your dietitian about eating fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha.