Did you know that more than half of people are intolerant to dairy? And this could be why your stomach often resembles a soccer ball?
Bloating sucks. Plain and simple. It's hard to feel comfortable in your own skin when your tummy is stretched tight and you look about 5 months pregnant.
And avoiding a belly bloat is a tough one. There are lots of different causes and current research suggests some kinds of bloating are actually psychological. Go figure. But there is one common cause - dairy. As much as it sucks to admit it, that pre-dinner brie washed down with post-dinner ice cream is probably the reason behind your tummy torture.
According to wellness expert and founder of Activated Nutrients Blair Norfolk, it's estimated that 65% of people are actually intolerant to dairy. Meaning you're actually more likely to have an issue with dairy products than not.
"Dairy products contain a sugar called lactose and the human body needs to make an enzyme called lactase to break the lactose down and use it. However, a lot of people can produce little or, in rare cases, no lactase," said Blair.
"Without adequate lactase production, the human body can’t digest the lactose in the dairy products and it passes through the body untouched, causing gastrointestinal upset along the way."
In addition, whey and casein (the two primary components found in dairy) can also cause a lot of gut disturbances that can lead to bloating, cramping, gas. And bad news, women are more often victims of this gastric upset than men.
“That’s stuff that you don’t want to have to deal with every single day. With plant-based protein, women typically experience much less of that than they do with whey or casein.”
So what are we supposed to do? Should we ditch dairy all together? Should we switch to purely plant-based protein? What is the solution? Well according to Blair, it's all about trial and error.
"If you’re specifically trying to figure out if dairy is the culprit [of your bloating], try swapping out your dairy intake for gentle, non-dairy alternatives. Commit to some trial and error and once you’ve sorted it out, stick to it!"
Also, it's important to note that lactose, whey and casein contents may vary from one dairy product to another. So for some people dairy bloating will depend on the kind of dairy you're eating.
"And lactose intolerant, that doesn’t mean you can’t tolerate any dairy. You may be able to tolerate a limited amount of dairy with no adverse symptoms."
"A glass of milk might be too much for your body to handle but some people could get away with a serve of Greek yoghurt. It's all about paying attention to your body. You may find that you feel much better!"
Now, before you start Googling your bloating symptoms and pledging to cut out all dairy, remember that dairy products are part of a balanced diet and you'll need to find a replacement for the calcium and protein dairy provides. Blair recommends plant-based nutritional supplements for those interested in removing some or all dairy from their diets.
Also, it is 100% worth speaking to a doctor or nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your diet.