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© 2017 Vancouver Dietitians

Blog & Recipes

  • by Alexandra Inman, Stephanie Dang

Constipation, Bloating, and Other Tummy Troubles


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According to this article by Hallie Levine, 8/10 adults occasionally or frequently experience bloating, constipation, heartburn, or other gastrointestinal challenges.

Individuals who experience these symptoms infrequently or irregularly may benefit from including more sources of dietary fibre, drinking more fluids, and being active regularly. Some symptoms such as gas and heartburn can also be relieved by over the counter medications like Beano or antacids.

Some individuals experience these symptoms so regularly or frequently that it starts to impact their quality of life. Many of these people find relief from following restrictive diets; such as becoming gluten-free or cutting out entire food groups, like dairy. However, it is important to note that while these diets may provide you relief of symptoms temporarily, they may be depriving your body of micronutrients (such as the calcium found in dairy products) or masking an underlying disease from being diagnosed.

When suffering from frequent and/or severe gastrointestinal symptoms, it is important to not self-diagnose or self-medicate but seek the help of a licensed medical professional; such as your family doctor, a gastroenterologist, and/or a dietitian. These professionals will be able to help you investigate potential causes of your symptoms and how to manage them to maintain your quality of life.

If you think you have Celiac disease, it is extremely important that you do not follow a gluten-free diet before consulting with a gastroenterologist. Testing for Celiac disease requires that individuals are including gluten in their diet beforehand. People diagnosed with Celiac disease must follow an extremely strict gluten-free diet in order to prevent long-term damage to the bowel. Often times, people who are not Celiac but think they may be intolerant to gluten may actually have other underlying causes of their symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

If you have seen a gastroenterologist and they have determined you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Alex and Steph can work with you to find the foods which may trigger your symptoms while maintaining a varied and healthy diet which will be easy to follow and enjoy.

Current evidence suggests that IBS may be related to the bacteria in our gut and how they interact with the foods that we consume. Together, we can use the FODMAPs diet to pinpoint exact food triggers of these symptoms. FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are all types of sugars and sugar alcohols that research shows may have differing effects on the bacteria in our gut producing symptoms such as: bloating, gas, constipation, cramping, and diarrhea. It is very important to only explore this diet with the help of a Registered Dietitian in order to ensure this diet is followed correctly and safely.

If you have seen a gastroenterologist and have a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease, Alex and Steph can work with you to ensure you are staying well-nourished while following a safe diet that will not exacerbate your symptoms. Current evidence suggests that following an anti-inflammatory diet is the safest and most beneficial for individuals with IBD. Alex and Steph are able to provide you with the latest and most up-to-date information on the anti-inflammatory diet in order to provide relief of your symptoms and prevent flare-ups in the future, all while being able to enjoy a varied and sustainable diet.

Ultimately, if your tummy troubles are having an impact on your daily life, it’s important to seek the help of a licensed professional. You’ll be amazed at how much your quality of life can improve with effective diagnosis and management of your symptoms.

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