Gerda Endemann, our Senior Director of Science and Research, has a BS in Nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from MIT and a passion for cherry picking in our wellness shop. She spends a lot of time interpreting research – both established and emerging. And our wellness routines thank her for that. (Your will too. Send us your own questions to Gerda: [email protected].)
Dear Goop, I sometimes get bloated after a meal but I can’t figure out if it’s because of a particular meal or something else. What are some of the reasons for gas? – Hannah A.
Hello Hannah. The main cause of bloating is gas. The gas could be from carbonated drinks or from swallowing air when you are eating too quickly. One school of thought states that chewing each bite thirty times is key to health. Not a bad idea: it would slow you down, aid digestion, and perhaps prevent you from swallowing air. (My third grade teacher followed this theory, so there wasn’t much time to play during the lunch break. Only in California.)
But in many cases, it is certain foods that cause gas. Beans are obvious culprits, but there are lesser-known foods that cause gas in some people and not in others. And that depends on your digestive enzymes and the bacteria in your intestines. It is the intestinal bacteria that produce gas – methane and hydrogen – from our undigested food.
Any food that we do not digest cannot be absorbed in the small intestine, so it migrates to the large intestine, where bacteria use it and produce gas. You can reduce gas by helping food to be fully digested, promoting the growth of less bloating intestinal bacteria, and promoting the health of your intestinal cells, which make digestive enzymes and ingest food. Goop’s wellness product development team has incorporated all of these approaches into an appropriately named new product, Gut Microbiome Superpowder. *
goop Wellness GUT MICROBIOME SUPERPOWDER goop, $ 55 / $ 50 with subscription
This tasteless, unsweetened powder comes in small sachets that you can mix into any cool liquid. You will find that it contains a specific strain of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®). The 299v strain is backed by solid clinical study results showing that it can relieve occasional indigestion and gas. That clinically studied dose of 299 V alone would make a good product. *
However, Gut Microbiome Superpowder also contains enzymes that aid the digestion of proteins, fats and starches. And it contains the amino acid glutamine to nourish the intestinal cells, as well as a concentrated extract of aloe vera, traditionally used for its calming properties. Well-functioning intestinal cells form a barrier that keeps irritating undigested food out of the body. These cells also produce important digestive enzymes. Gut bacteria, enzymes and gut cells work closely together, so it makes sense if one gut product addresses them all. *
However, you may want to take other combinations of these ingredients in other delivery formats. The Nue Co. makes capsules that contain seventeen digestive enzymes along with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and licorice. This licorice root extract, GutGard, has been clinically studied and has been shown to aid intestinal health and digestion. *
Seed formulates its synbiotic capsules with 24 strains of helpful probiotic bacteria along with prebiotics from pomegranate. *
The Nue Co. DEBLOAT + Goop, $ 45
Seed DAILY SYNBIOTIC Goop, $ 60
In addition to using nutritional supplements to support gut health, it is a good idea to identify any foods that you are not absorbing well. Dairy products are a case in point. Are you bloated after eating yogurt, ice cream, or cream cheese? It can come and go: Stress and illness can lead to a temporary intolerance to the milk sugar lactose. If so, avoid dairy products for a while to allow your colon cells to recover.
Now there is evidence that table sugar, sucrose, works in the same way in some people. Like fructose, the fruit sugar. Are you responding to sources of fructose like apple juice, high fructose corn syrup, pears, cherries, peaches, and watermelon? Sweetkick makes peppermints that can help reduce the attractiveness of foods that contain sugar. They contain an extract from the Gymnema sylvestre plant, which temporarily suppresses the sweet taste so that sweet foods may not taste as appealing. *
Sweetkick 14-DAY SUGAR RESET Goop, $ 46
The list of gas-emitting foods is dauntingly long. You may have heard the term FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). It refers to anything bacteria can use. These include the sugars mentioned above: sucrose, fructose, and lactose. And it contains fiber that we don’t digest, like inulin, which bacteria use. Sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol are also FODMAPs. You can find them in sugar-free and low-calorie chewing gums, peppermints, and cough suppressants.
Harvard Health Publishing has a helpful list of foods high in FODMAP. Common ones are rye, wheat, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets, and beans. It’s a bit confusing because in general, eating vegetables, which provide nourishing fiber to our gut bacteria, are good for gut health. But nutrition is all about moderation, for us and our bacteria, and respecting our individual needs. When your microbiome is out of whack, healthy foods that bacteria feed on can make your symptoms worse.
If temporarily eliminating foods high in FODMAP proves helpful, you may want to reintroduce foods one at a time to find out what the culprits are. It is best to work with a nutritionist to do this, as a correct elimination diet can be challenging. (We like registered nutritionist Brigid Titgemeier’s My Food Is Health program, and she’s here to answer questions about low-FODMAP diets.)
Finally, if you’re trying to avoid FODMAPs and it seems like you can’t eat anything, indulge in a coconut milk latte with saffron.
The Fullest WARM FEELINGS SAFFRON LATTE 7 OZ Goop, $ 68
There is more information on fiber, foods, and gas in this goop PhD article. And here is more about elimination diets and detox.
(Of course, as always, consult your doctor for any medical condition, such as chronic flatulence.)
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
LP299V® is a registered trademark of Probi AB.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied on for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of a doctor or alternative practitioner, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of goop.