For some people, making smart food choices and breaking bad dietary habits can be enough to banish uncomfortable stomach cramps and bloating, which can have a genuine impact on quality of life.
Here are a few tips from digestion disorder specialist Daniele Festy, and endocrinologist and nutritionist Pierre Nys on how to calm your stomach.
Go easy on crudites
Too many raw vegetables can irritate intestinal mucus and the colon, although it depends on the individual nature and sensitivity of your digestive system.
Dishes such as cooked beetroot or a salad of cooked carrots with cumin will be better tolerated than classics like raw tomato and cucumber.
Keep legumes to a minimum
Legumes like lentils, dried beans and chickpeas are excellent sources of plant-based protein that help increase satiety – making you feel fuller.
However, not everyone can digest them easily.
Try including small quantities of legumes in your dishes and to see how you react.
Pick dairy products with low levels of lactose
Outside of specific lactose intolerances or allergies, dairy products can cause nausea, pain, bloating, and even migraines.
If you notice these discomforts, switch to yoghurts and matured cheeses that have lower levels of lactose, as well as fermented milk products or plant-based milks such as soy or almond milk.
Tuck into low-sugar fruit
It isn’t always easy to fit in the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
However, citrus fruit, for example, is better eaten outside of mealtimes to avoid bloating and slow digestion.
Pineapple, although relatively sweet, can be eaten at the end of a meal as it’s great for digesting proteins.
Make sure you remove the skin of nectarines, apples and pears.
As a general rule, fruit is better cut into chunks or grated, rather than consumed whole.
The skin of certain vegetables, like bell peppers and tomatoes, isn’t digestible.
Simply plunge them into boiling water for two minutes and the skin should peel away easily.
With green vegetables, try just eating the lightest-colored parts, which are less likely to cause flatulence than dark green parts.
Go half and half with grains
Wholegrain cereals are recommended to help boost dietary fibre intake, but a gut that’s used to eating white flour products, like industrially-produced sliced bread, won’t appreciate the switch to brown bread or brown rice if it’s done instantly and involves large quantities.
To avoid weakening intestinal mucus, half-and-half formulations of bread or pasta, for example, can lead to smoother transitions.
As a general rule, it’s wise to reduce portions of carbohydrates.
Watch out for hidden sorbitol
Sorbitol is a natural sugar used in many “light”, “diet” or “sugar-free” products, thanks to its relatively low impact on blood sugar levels.
It is found in preserves, candy and chewing gum.
This sweetener can give certain people stomachaches and can cause digestive problems such as diarrhoea.
It is also hidden in certain fruits, such as pears and plums.
Make sure you read food labels carefully. – AFP Relaxnews