Let’s talk bloating and other side effects linked to intolerances.For those of you lucky enough to not suffer from bloating as a result of a food intolerance, know that you are blessed. And for the people that do, I understand your pain and discomfort and know your frustrations.
I’ve been lactose intolerant since the age of 15.. and it’s been the bain of my existence. As awful enough as the condition can be, I can be quite lenient with myself from time to time, and do of course enjoy ice-cream, chocolate, you name it. I just put up with the bloating and side effects like cramps etc that come with it. I’m sorry, but life is just too short to say no to ice-cream.
However, back last September/October, I started to develop other symptoms including extreme stomach pains, jawline acne and facial swelling which was leaving me in agony every day. It wasn’t too bad in the mornings, but as the day went by, and by the time I got home in the evenings, it was so excruciatingly sore, that all I wanted was to rip the skin off my face. And nothing was helping. I tried changing my moisturizer, facewash, makeup, shampoo… absolutely everything, still nothing changed.
So then I started to study my diet and look into supplements I might be able to add in to help.. they say that those types of symptoms are a reflection of something not right in the inside.
I’ve never been one to completely cut out a food group from my diet, never been a vegetarian, never been a vegan, etc. because I do believe, everything in moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I literally was desperate for answers and so low in self-esteem because of the extra symptoms alongside the bloating I’d developed, that I decided to cut out dairy and see did it make any change.
Before I launch into my own experience and solutions that worked for me, I want to talk a bit about Dairy and being lactose intolerant as there is a bit of confusion on both.
Dairy is a category of products that contain cow’s milk. The term “dairy” can also cause confusion with eggs etc since eggs are usually located near the dairy product case in the grocery store but with relation to Lactose Intolerances, eggs are not a contributing factor. People who are lactose intolerant are missing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. As a result, individuals who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest these foods, and therefore experience symptoms of bloating and others.
BUT If you have a lactose intolerance, you may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy. You can try hard cheeses, cottage cheese, quark and some yogurt products usually Greek, which tend to be lower in lactose than milk.
What worked best for me?
Cut back on dairy
So let’s be realistic, unless you are some form of super human, eliminating everything containing cows milk or traces of forever from your diet is quite impossible, well for me it definitely is. As I’ve already mentioned, I do enjoy tasty treats that contain milk, but I try to be more aware and quite selective on when I will allow myself to have products containing milk.
I switched out normal yogurt for cottage cheese, and recently switched my Whey protein to a Vegan blend. I won’t lie and say it tastes amazing, cause it doesn’t, but it’s okaaaaaaay, a 6/10 for taste. Amazingly, since switching the Whey for Vegan protein though, I have seen a major change in my symptoms, so I’ll suck it up and continue to cover my porridge bowls with all the toppings to make it flavoursome.
Kelp – Due to Kelps high levels of natural iodine, it is essential in regulating our thyroid hormones and therefore our metabolism and energy levels. Kemp is an excellent Detoxifier, Immunity Booster, for Skin Longevity, Thyroid Function and for Sports Performance and weight loss.
Kelp is a type of seaweed, or algae but I get it in tablet form from the pharmacy.
I take it once a day, usually after my lunch. HOWEVER people with thyroid problems should seek medical advice before consuming kelp, which is high in iodine.
Probiotics – Promotes a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system. These are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria. Probiotics are often referred to as your body’s ‘good bacteria’. The official definition is a ‘live microorganism which will confer health benefits on the human host’. Some of these benefits include the way in which they help to break down food, and extract minerals and nutrients essential to the body. There are many types of probiotic bacteria, one of the most well-known species is called Acidophilus for short.
I take 2 tablets daily. One after my mid-morning snack and one after my lunch.
Apple Cider Vinegar – maybe a new diet fad some might say, but this one genuinely does work for me. Apple cider vinegar boasts a myriad of health benefits. The #1 to me is the way it chases the bloat away. Most people think that an increase in stomach acid will cause intestinal discomfort, but in reality, acid helps slow the digestion of starch which is the cause in blood sugar spikes after meals. You can opt for liquid or tablets dependent on which you can better stomach.
I take 2 mouthfuls after my lunch. There are mixed opinions on when you should take it, I just take it when it’s easiest for me to do so.
Dandelion Tea – Many people use dandelion root to detoxify and soothe an upset stomach (bloating etc), and help shed water weight, among many other health remedies. You can get it in most health food stores. Similar to green tea it’s great to drink throughout the day instead of coffee and normal tea.
Other methods I’ve tried:
Psyllium Husk – Psyllium husk benefits serve as a truly super food of sorts for bloating and similar symptoms. This is a fiber supplement and comes in grain form.
You can mix a tablespoon or 2 with some water and knock it back. I used this method for about a month last summer, but found it made my skin really dry so stopped.
Aloe Vera Juice – A rich source of nutrients and enzymes, regularly drinking cooling aloe vera gel can help to clear inflammatory heat, regenerate the gastrointestinal lining, balance digestive juices and gently cleanse the liver. I took this last year on my holidays in France to minimise bloating due to a diet change.
You can take 10-100mls per day on an empty stomach for a cleansing and nourishing start to the day drink upon rising, then throughout the day as required ie before meals to help avoid bloating and indigestion.
So there you have it, all the above methods I’ve tried and tested myself. Obviously this isn’t Gospel, and what works for me, might not work for others. At the end of the day it is very trial and error and will differ from person to person. I’ve personally been trialling these products over the past few weeks and months. Choose one or 2, try them out for 2-4 weeks, if it doesn’t help, or symptoms worsen, make sure to stop them and try others.