Our gut will often tell us when it's not happy. Episodes of bloating, abdominal cramps and excess gas are rather common. Here, we show you how you can calm your gut, and alleviate these issues, by addressing certain key microbes.

By Adrianna Talaga Adverse gut symptoms can make daily life rather uncomfortable: post-meal pain, feeling like you're holding a balloon in your belly, or releasing foul-smelling winds are all challenging to cope with. In fact, these sorts of symptoms affect 6-13% of the Western world¹. There are many reasons these symptoms can come up: from drinking too much alcohol, or due to underlying constipation and food intolerances. Scientists, meanwhile, have shown that an unhappy gut microbiome can be one of the most significant contributing factors. Namely, this is when our gut is unbalanced, otherwise called dysbiosis. Although we still don’t know what the “ideal” gut microbiota looks like, we can try and improve the levels of microbes we know our gut loves. Above all, the good news is that we can swiftly do this through our diet. Here, we're going to discuss the good and bad players when it comes to bloating, abdominal pain and gas, including details on how to optimise our gut status to be symptom-free.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus, just like the name hints, has something to do with lactic acid. It produces lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, a milk sugar into lactic acid. L. acidophilus has been widely used as a probiotic, and studies show that it can alleviate bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders, as well as abdominal pain in people suffering from IBS ²,³. Luckily, L. acidophilus can be found in plenty of different foods! Try out the following foods to give your gut a good dose of these beneficial bacteria.
  • Sip on some Kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is rich in L. acidophilus as well as Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactococcus lactis and more profitable microbes. Scientists have found that when patients consumed kefir daily for 4 weeks, their bloating significantly decreased ⁴.
  • Treat yourself to some yoghurt (coconut is a great option!) Studies show that yoghurts with L. acidophilus can alleviate bloating ⁵. Note that to make sure your yoghurt is rich in L. acidophilus: look out for "contains live and active bacteria cultures" labels.
  • Add some Sauerkraut to your veggie bowl. Sauerkraut – aka. fermented cabbage – can be a tasty addition to your meal. Studies show that Sauerkraut is very rich in Lactobacillus species', especially L. acidophilus ⁶.

Bifidobacteria

Bifidobacteria are one of the first microbes to colonize our gut. Studies show they exert many health benefits⁷. The main helpers are B. longum, B. adolescentis and B. lactis. Scientists have shown that probiotics containing these microbes help alleviate abdominal pain and bloating ⁸,⁹,¹⁰. There are many ways you can improve the abundance of these good microbes: 
  • Add some extra oat bran to your breakfast. Studies suggest that oat bran can increase the production of SCFAs and, in turn, the relative abundance of B. adolescentis in the gut¹¹.
  • Choose nuts, seeds and avocados. Scientists claim that diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids promotes the abundance of B. longum¹².

Methanobrevibacter smithii 

Methanobrevibacter smithii is a prokaryotic archaeon, a single-celled microorganism that produces methane. What is methane? You might ask. Methane is a gas and when mixed with other gases, it creates a foul rotten-egg smell (I am sure you know what I am talking about!). When polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrates, are broken down by bacteria in the gut, hydrogen and carbon dioxide are produced. I know it's getting very nerdy in here, but please stay with me! 

Methanogensis - the gaseous culprit

Then, two things can happen: either sulphate-reducing bacteria will use hydrogen to produce sulphide which is eliminated in the stool. Route number 2 is methanogenesis, where the hydrogen is used to form methane. Methanogens are present in a healthy and diverse gut microbiota. The issue arises when you are primarily a methane-producer¹³. Studies show patients with a higher levels of methanogens are more likely to suffer from bloating and constipation due to slower digestion ¹⁴. But – fear no more – here are a few things you can implement into your diet to alleviate your symptoms.
  • Slow down on food rich in polysaccharides. I know, I know. We all love pasta, bread and rice. BUT, if their gut fermentation can lead to agonising symptoms, we suggest you switch to foods with a lower carbohydrate content.
  • Choose foods rich in Lactobacilli. Studies show that interventions with a probiotic mixture containing different strains of Lactobacilli decrease the abundance of Methanobrevibacter smithii. We’re talking yoghurt, kefir, miso, tempeh!
Now, if you’re not sure whether you’re a methane-producer, RESET+ can help you figure it out.

Other lifestyle changes that can help you beat the bloat.

Apart from implementing these dietary changes, there are other things you can do to be symptom-free.
  • Gentle exercise and stretching can help diffuse trapped gas. Studies show that moderate effort stationary bike exercise decreases bloating¹⁵. Also, yoga has been shown to relieve IBS related symptoms¹⁶.
  • Give yourself a tummy massage. Since our intestines are coated in muscles, massaging it can help release sluggish gases and soothe your symptoms. What's more, study conducted at the University of Glasgow showed that bowel massage relieved constipation¹⁷.
So, make sure to follow our recommendations to help feed the good guys and keep the methane-producers at bay. If you aren’t sure whether these dietary changes are specifically right for you, and want to find out if your gut microbiota is out of balance, try RESET+! With exclusive new technology – unseen anywhere else – RESET+ is a tailored gut wellness program that uses your microbes as a marker of how diet changes affect your gut and thus, your health. Here's to happy guts all year round! 
References:
  1. Ryu, M. S., et al. (2016). Clinical dimensions of bloating in functional gastrointestinal disorders. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 22(3), 509–516.
  2. Galanko, J. a, Leyer, G., & Palsson, O. S. (2015). Disorders - a Double-Blind Study. Journal of Clincal Gastroenterology, 45(6), 518–525.
  3. Ortiz-Lucas, et al. (2013). Effect of probiotic species on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: A bring up to date meta-analysis. Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas, 105(1), 19–36.
  4. Yılmaz, İ., Enver Dolar, M., & Özpınar, H. (2019). Effect of administering kefir on the changes in fecal microbiota and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease: A randomized controlled trial. Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology, 30(3), 242–253.
  5. Magro, D. O., et al. (2014). Effect of yogurt containing polydextrose, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019: A randomized, double-blind, controlled study in chronic constipation. Nutrition Journal, 13(1), 1–5.
  6. Plengvidhya, V., Breidt, F., Lu, Z., & Fleming, H. P. (2007). DNA fingerprinting of lactic acid bacteria in sauerkraut fermentations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(23), 7697–7702
  7. O’Callaghan, A., & van Sinderen, D. (2016). Bifidobacteria and their role as members of the human gut microbiota. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7(JUN).
  8. Ringel-Kulka T1, Palsson OS, Maier D, Carroll I, Galanko JA, Leyer G, Ringel Y.(2011).Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders: a double-blind study. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.45(6),518-25.
  9. Vitellio, P., et al. (2019). Effects of bifidobacterium longum and lactobacillus rhamnosuson gut microbiota in patients with lactose intolerance and persisting functional gastrointestinal symptoms: A randomised, double-blind, cross-over study. Nutrients, 11(4), 1-15.
  10. Giannetti, E, et al. (2017). A Mixture of 3 Bifidobacteria Decreases Abdominal Pain and Improves the Quality of Life in Children With Irritable Bowel Syndrome A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 51(1), e5-e10.
  11.  Mayorga Reyes, L, et al. (2016) Correlation between diet and gut bacteria in a population of young adults, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 67:4, 470-478.
  12. Kristek, A., et al., (2019). Oat bran, but not its isolated bioactive β-glucans or polyphenols, have a bifidogenic effect in an in vitro fermentation model of the gut microbiota. British Journal of Nutrition, 121(5), pp.549-559.
  13.  Chaudhary, P.P., Conway, P.L. & Schlundt, J.(2018). Methanogens in humans: potentially beneficial or harmful for health. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 45(6), 518-25
  14. Triantafyllou, K., Chang, C., & Pimentel, M. (2014). Methanogens, methane and gastrointestinal motility. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 20(1), 31–40.
  15. Lacy, B. E., et al. (2011). Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: Hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 7(11), 729–739.
  16. Kuttner, L., et al. (2006). A randomized trial of yoga for adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome. Pain Research and Management, 11(4), 217–223.
  17. McClurg, D., et al. (2016). Abdominal massage for the relief of constipation in people with Parkinson’s: A qualitative study. Parkinson’s Disease, 2016.