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Independent health store advice on natural ways to beat the bloat

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Ruth Noah, owner of Noah’s Health Food Store in Wallington, Surrey.

Digestive health is a big topic at Noah’s as many customers seek help for various complaints. In one day we could be asked for advice on babies with colic, children with constipation, teens with food intolerances, adults suffering from travellers’ tummy or an elderly person having loss of appetite.

Bloating has been in the press quite a bit recently, probably because it is a common problem and there can be a multitude of causes for it. An imbalance in the gut flora where there is not enough friendly bacteria and an over dominance of bad bacteria which release toxins can cause bloating and flatulence. Food intolerances and various medications can also cause bloating as the gut struggles to break down particles it sees as toxic. This is often recognised when customers say they wake up with a flat tummy and by the end of the day their stomach is distended. It is important to get to the root of the problem and there are many questions that can be asked.

I always check a person is drinking enough as a lack of hydration can mean that the body will hold on to water and cause bloating or fluid retention in other areas. Fizzy drinks can be a cause, as can too much sodium and sugar in your diet. It is also important to chew food properly before swallowing and keep liquids to a minimum whilst having a meal.

Natural remedies

Homeopathic remedies such as Weleda’s Carbo Veg and Lycopodium both help to neutralise gases, as can activated charcoal. Weleda’s Digestive Calming Drops, formerly known as Melissa Compound, is a traditional herbal remedy that calms an upset stomach, helps with nausea and expels flatulence. If the bloating occurs high up in the stomach I would recommend a Digestive Enzyme Blend by Udo’s Choice. This helps replace enzymes and ensures full break down of fats, carbs, protein and fibre.

For lower down in the gut, a probiotic containing a prebiotic specifically for bloating is recommended. Look for one that contains Bifidobacterium Bifidum Rosell-71 as this competes with the nasty methane-producing bacteria which often cause bloating. Optibac ‘One Week Flat’ is a good choice.

It is essential to have a decent amount of fibre in your diet to ensure complete elimination of waste; particles that cannot be broken down can ferment and cause a build-up of gas. Good nutritionally dense sources include nuts, seeds, oats, whole grains, dried fruit and inulin. Beans and pulses are also great but, be warned, certain beans are harder to digest and can cause flatulence. Dairy and wheat can be a problem especially if you don’t produce enough lactase to break down lactose or you have an intolerance to gluten. There are many alternatives for these in store so you don’t need to compromise on taste or quality. Cooking and chewing food properly is again very important. Herbal teas such as peppermint, fennel and chamomile are also great for wind and colic as they all have a calming effect on the digestive system.

Fermented foods

If none of the above have alleviated the problem then it’s always good protocol to seek medical advice. Complementary sources of support are also available to help get to the root of the problem.

I was shown a great exercise many years ago which can really help with trapped wind especially after an operation. Lie on your back, bring your knees up to your chest and rock from side to side then make a circle with your knees together.

Be mindful of the nutritional content of what you eat and chew, chew, chew! Aim for fibrous alkaline and anti-inflammatory foods: greens, superfoods, cider vinegar, turmeric, apples, pineapple etc. Include fermented foods daily; the kicking ‘K’s’, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are great. For a happy tummy I’m loving PuErh Raw Kombucha made by Balanced Nature. It is known in China as the ‘tea for immortality’. On that note I’m taking no chances!

Noah’s Health Food Store

Noah’s Health Food Store is based at 4 South Parade, Stafford Road, Wallington, Surrey, SM6 9AJ. It was established in 1970 by Ruth’s father, Jack Noah, who ran the business for 32 years.

Ruth took over the business in 2003 and now employs eight part-time staff, including a qualified nutritionist who offers private consultations.

All staff members are offered the opportunity to study for the HFI diploma in health food retailing. To contact the store, call 020 8647 1724.

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