As someone interested in my health, I tend to see ads for supplements and probiotics all over my social media feeds. Between Goli apple cider gummies, Skin Te (whatever that is), care/of vitamins, powder collagen and all kinds of probiotics, I see more than my fair share of ingestibles that are “destined to make you feel better.” But will they really?
I admit that I’m a marketer’s dream; just ask my husband. Between trying new probiotic capsules, gummies aimed at helping hair health and growth, calcium and magnesium supplements, I feel like I’ve tried more products than I’d like to admit.
But here I am years later not using those specific products anymore, but still searching for the next best thing that will “heal” me.
If they worked as promised, wouldn’t I still be using them? Or wouldn’t I “cure” myself and no longer need anything?
While working from home and trying lots of new foods in the past year and sticking to using supplements for longer than a few weeks—think more like a few months (the amount needed to really see if said supplements are working)—I noticed something. Something bad. I was suffering from bloat almost every day, especially in the evening. And I was belching a lot, especially after large meals.
It was rough, and it was starting to wreak havoc on my evenings. I couldn’t always enjoy dinner without worrying about the bloating, stomach cramping and absurdly loud belching that likely would follow.
When something like this takes over my life, I start researching it. I scour library shelves for books on the topic. After reading a book on bloat, I felt like I had a good idea what might be causing the belching. It was the way I eat food and drink beverages. So I adjusted and immediately noticed a difference. But my bloating was still there.
The real answer came in one of the most unlikely of places: Instagram.
While browsing, I somehow found the account @ibs.dietitian. Jessie Wong, an IBS coach and FODMAP dietitian, runs the page. She shares helpful tips for those suffering from IBS and helpful digestive tips in general.
After seeing more and more of her posts and stories detailing IBS and bloating and things that people do that they don’t realize exacerbate their problems, I started learning more about what might be causing my issues. Jessie brought up the situation of how many people take probiotics and supplements blindly. Without consulting a doctor or dietitian, people—myself included—take all kinds of “healthy” vitamins. The problem is that if your gut is trying to heal itself, some of these things can make your problems worse, not better.
After following Jessie’s tips, I cut out a supplement I was taking and noticed within a few days that my stomach started feeling better after meals. After that, I also started incorporating more exercise into my day. Both of these things helped immensely. I still suffer from time to time, but I’m starting to realize which foods are triggers for bloating.
That’s a big thing that Jessie promotes on her Instagram account. She is a big promoter of trying a low-FODMAP diet, which means a diet low in fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. A quick Google search can help explain foods to eat and avoid on this diet.
After eliminating certain foods for a certain period of time, you should notice your body start to feel better. After that, you can start to reintroduce foods, one at a time, and see which ones are triggers for you. Elimination diets require consistency and are best done with a food diary and dietitian to help monitor your progress.
If you’re suffering from digestive issues and are doing all you can to help, including taking probiotics and supplements, you may want to reach out to a professional and see if you’re actually causing more harm.