Get Rid of IBS Bloating
For those with IBS a range of symptoms are commonly experienced. These include abdominal pain, changes in bowel patterns and commonly bloating.
Out of all of the digestive symptom’s bloating is often reported to be the most common and the most unpredictable. It is experienced in up to 86% of those with digestive issues. (1)
We can think of common foods being highly bloating.
The reason for this is that they are a food source for the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In a balanced environment, these bacteria digestive the fibres in these foods and produce gas.
This gas is then often broken down and digested by other bacteria, keeping the levels of gas balanced.
However, if there are changed in the balance of these bacteria too much gas may be produced and not enough broken down. This excess gas that is present in the bowel can than lead to bloating.
These foods that are the most troublesome contain highly fermentable fibres which can lead to excess gas being produed. (2)
A common suggestion for those with IBS and bloating is to eat more fibre.
However, if the gut is not in a balanced state this can be like adding fuel to the fire. Adding more fibres to the gut which is then fermented by the bacteria and leads to an increased level of gas.
In this situation it can be tempting to see food as the problem and manage the diet to help symptoms of bloating.
Rather than seeing diet as a treatment, it can be a helpful way to manage symptoms in the short term while the underlying imbalance is addressed. (3)
Certain carbohydrates may also lead to symptoms of IBS and bloating. These are commonly called resistant starches.
These are found in foods such as:
- White potatoes
- White rice
- Beans and legumes
Although the name is different to fibre, the process is the same.
They act as a fuel source for beneficial bacteria, which when the gut is out of balance can then lead to excess gas production and symptoms such as bloating. (3)
Best over the counter gas and bloating medicine
There are several options to help manage the symptoms of bloating.
Depending on specific food triggers various digestive enzymes may be beneficial.
- Lactase supplements help you digest the sugar lactose in dairy products.
- A broad-spectrum digestive enzyme can be helpful if someone is unsure of a particular food trigger.
- Alpha-galactosidase a single digestive enzyme to help break down the carbohydrates in vegetables and beans. (4)
Charcoal is a high absorbent mineral which may act as a sponge and help to reduce the level of gas in the digestive system by. (5)
While the aim should be to have the diet as diverse and unrestrictive as possible, in the short term a reduction in high fodmap foods may be helpful.
FODMAPs are foods that are high in fibres that are highly fermentable by the gut bacteria.
Even though these are all generally considered healthy foods, they can aggravate digestive symptoms.
By reducing the amount of fermentation taking place in the gut, symptoms may be better managed while the underlying issue is addressed.
The low FODMAP diet was created by Monash University and is in 2 phases.
Phase 1 – The Elimination Phase
During this phase all FODMAPs are removed.
This can often help to reduce symptoms quickly and to allow phase 2 to be more effective.
The Reintroduction Phase
Once symptoms have improved during phase 1, foods can be reintroduced.
It is often unlikely that all high FODMAP foods are problematic and a mistake that is often made is staying on phase 1 for too long. Ensuring the diet is diverse as possible helps can make like easier and more enjoyable.
If specific foods are an issue during the reintroduction phase and lead to digestive symptoms such as bloating, this doesn’t mean this food has to be avoided for ever.
It does indicate that there is an imbalance in the gut. If this can be addresses and supported in the correct way the aim is to have the diet as varied and unrestricted as possible.
There are several ways to support the balance of the digestive symptoms of IBS. (6)
Specific probiotic bacteria have been shown to help with symptoms of bloating. Rather than adding more bacteria to the gut, probiotic supplements support foundational processes.
They can help to support the gut immune system, reduce the sensitivity of the gut lining and help the body to producing compounds that have a natural antimicrobial effect to balance the bacteria. (7)
A key indicator of a bacteria imbalance in the gut microbiome is the symptom of bloating. This is often due to the presence of an alteration in the process of fermentation.
Fermentation is considered a beneficial process when the bacteria are in a balanced state, however, if the ratio of levels of these bacteria is disturbed there can be an imbalance in the fermentation process and symptoms such as bloating can follow.
To rebalance these organisms, antibiotics can be used, particularly when SIBO is present. Additionally, herbal supplement with antimicrobial properties can also be used to support the bacterial balance.
These are herbs such as garlic, oil of oregano and berberine. (8, 9)
Alongside the imbalance of bacteria that is often present in those with IBS, there can be changes along the gut lining.
This Increased sensitivity in the nerves along the gut wall is something known as visceral hypersensitivity. This can be seen as where the nerves are on ‘high alert’ where even a small amount of gas feel painful.
Peppermint may help to support the gut lining and reduce this hypersensitivity. (10)
When to see a doctor
While symptoms of IBS can be present on a day-to-day basis and change gradually, there are several symptoms/changes in symptoms that would be considered ‘red flags’.
To ensure there aren’t any changes in the digestive system, for example cancer, it is often best to speak with a GP.
Red flag symptoms include
- unexplained weight loss
- rectal bleeding
- change in bowel habit in patients under 60 years of age
- family history of bowel/ovarian cancer
- abdominal/rectal/pelvic mass
- raised inflammatory markers. (11)
How to cure ibs permanently
To cure IBS the underlying imbalance, need to be identified addressed.
These can include:
- Changes in the bacterial balance
- Carbohydrate intolerances
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- Low level inflammation resulting from an infection
- A high level of emotional stress (12)
How do I get rid of IBS bloating fast?
The ways to reduce bloating can be helpful to symptom management.
- A low FODMAP diet
- Digestive enzymes
- Fennel tea (13)
What is the best treatment for IBS bloating?
It’s important to remember that IBS is not a single thing with a single cause.
It can be the case that even in people with the same symptoms, the underlying issue can be very different.
This means that the best treatment for IBS with bloating needs to be individualised. (13)
Can IBS cause severe bloating?
IBS can lead to a wide range of symptoms, bloating often being the most common.
The severity of bloating can be influenced by 2 key factors:
- The level of fermentation taking place
- The sensitivity of the gut lining. (13)
How long does bloating last with IBS?
IBS symptoms can change on a day-to-day basis and vary in intensity.
Many people experience a low-level bloating throughout the first part of the day which gradually builds towards the evening. This does often reduce overnight and feels a great deal more comfortable by the morning time. (13)
Author: Martin Cohen
DipCNM mBANT mCNHC
After completing an extensive nutrition training program at the College of Naturopathic Medicine I now run two practices. One in Wilmslow, Cheshire and another in central Manchester.I am a member of the professional body BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) and the CNHC. In addition, I have also reached the occupational standards of the NTC (Nutritional Therapy Council), which has strict codes of practise and ethics.
In such a developing and exciting field I am remain focused on keeping up with emerging research. My continued growth and development as a practitioner comes through peer-reviewed research and regularly attending accredited seminars and conferences around the country.