Beating the Bloat

We’ve all experienced bloating – that full, tight feeling in your abdomen, which is often uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. This increased abdominal pressure is often due to the presence of gas, and may or may not, be associated with abdominal distension (visual enlargement of the waist). Bloating can be caused by gastroenterological conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, small bacterial overgrowth and gastroparesis (delayed emptying of the stomach), but it can also be caused by ingestion of certain foods you are intolerant to. There are several strategies you can try that will help minimise the bloat! 1. Slow down at meal times and don’t overeatIt may seem obvious, but it is important to keep this in mind. Life is busy and we can all tend to rush when eating, because we have other things to get done. When you eat quickly, you also tend to eat more. Try slowing down the pace at meal times, enjoy each mouthful and chew well. By chewing slowly and carefully, this will prevent excess air entering the digestive tract. Drinking through a straw can lead to excess air being swallowed also. 2. Eat at regular intervalsTo combat bloating, many medical professionals will recommend moving from the standard 3 meals per day to having smaller meals more frequently. This way, the digestive system is kept in constant operation. 3. Gradually increase intake of fibreDid you know fibre prevents constipation and bloating? It is important to introduce extra fibre slowly and gradually, to let the body adjust. Too much fibre at once can actually cause bloating. 4. Seek guidance from a dietitian for a low FODMAP diet At GastroNorth, we often recommend a low FODMAP diet as an effective strategy to beat the bloat. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols – a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed. For those with gastrointestinal symptoms, a diet high in FODMAPS can induce constipation and/or diarrhoea, bloating, wind and abdominal pain. High FODMAP foods to consider avoiding are apples, pears, watermelon, wheat, rye, onions, legumes, cabbage, stone fruits and mushrooms.The low FODMAP diet is not a ‘one for all’ diet. It is essential that it is tailored to the individual as not all high FODMAP foods will be a trigger for you. A low FODMAP diet is also not to be followed strictly long term, foods should be re-introduced. FODMAPs are prebiotic and are important for long term gut health as they encourage the growth of good bacteria. We recommend seeing a specialist dietitian to assist you with this diet.Nick Dunn is a specialist gastrointestinal dietitian with Diet Solutions, and consults from the GastroNorth main rooms in Bundoora. 5. Be mindful of  Sugar AlcoholsSugar alcohols are the sweeteners found in sugar-free foods and chewing gums. If present in a large quantity, these can cause digestive issues as the bacteria in your gut digests them, which produces gas. 6. Check with your doctor to rule out any serious medical conditionsBloating is a very common symptom of several medical conditions. If you have prolonged bloating or your bloating is not helped by trying some of these strategies, see your doctor. If there is a diagnosis of a medical condition like inflammatory bowel disease for example, treatment can be commenced that may reduce or eliminate your bloating altogether.
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What is SIBO?

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (also known as SIBO) is more common that originally thought and can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. It is more likely to affect females, older adults, and those with gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). SIBO occurs when there is an unusually large population of bacteria in the small intestine.This imbalance of bacteria is often a complication of other digestive disorders.  What are the Causes of SIBO? Bacterial overgrowth occurs either when bacteria from one part of the digestive tract travels to the small intestine OR when naturally occurring bacteria in the small intestine multiply too much.This can happen due to low levels of stomach acid, the abnormally slow movement of the digestive system, small intestine physical abnormalities, a weakened immune system or following a bout of viral gastroenteritis. What are the Risk Factors of SIBO? Certain medical conditions are associated with SIBO, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, Coeliac disease, cirrhosis of the liver, hypothyroidism, HIV, diabetes, schleroderma and fibromyalgia.Other risk factors include older, age, being female, long term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), previous bowel surgery, recent antibiotic use and alcohol consumption.  What are the symptoms of SIBO? The symptoms of this condition are very similar to those of other gastrointestinal disorders, like IBS and lactose intolerance. These symptoms can vary in severity and also between individuals and directly affect the gut.Symptoms include abdominal pain (especially following a meal), bloating, diarrhoea, nausea and unintentional weight loss.SIBO can make it difficult for the body to absorb fats and carbohydrates from food. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and excess gas. Other complications include malnutrition, dehydration and leaky gut (a term used by naturopaths for an imbalance in the gut)  How is SIBO diagnosed? Due to the range of symptoms, the varying degrees of severity and the fact that the symptoms are so similar to those experienced with other gastrointestinal conditions, SIBO is not easily diagnosed.Your doctor will review your medical history, have a discussion about your symptoms and if they suspect bacterial overgrowth, they will request that you have a breath test.Bacteria produce hydrogen and methane when they break down carbohydrates in the gut. This test measures the concentration of hydrogen and methane in one’s breath which provides information about the severity and location of the bacterial overgrowth in the gut.The test is non invasive and you’ll be required to fast overnight. How is SIBO treated? Treat any underlying conditions, such as Coeliac disease or diabetes as these contribute to SIBO. Make dietary changes as these can help in relieving symptoms. There isn’t enough concrete evidence to suggest which diet is best, however there are dietary guidelines that can help relieve symptoms. Given that gut bacteria feeds on carbohydrates, SIBO diets work on limiting carbohydrate intake to prevent bacteria from growing. People can also benefit from a diet low in FODMAPs. Occasionally antibiotic therapy is used when dietary changes are not effective. Broad-spectrum antibiotics help stabilise the gut microbiota by reducing the number of intestinal bacteria. Probiotics are often mentioned when SIBO is discussed, however, there is not enough concrete evidence to support its use over antibiotics. If you think you may have SIBO, please see your doctor. 
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Bowel Cancer Awareness Month – FREE Community Information Session

Did you know that 1 in 13 Australians will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime?15,604 Australians are told they have bowel cancer each year, including 1,413 people under the age of 50. The good news is …..   98% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if found early.However, fewer than 50% are detected early.
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JUNE is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 in 13 Australians will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime?15604 Australians are told they have bowel cancer each year, including 1413 people under the age of 50.  The good news is ….. 98% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if found early.However, fewer than 50% are detected early.  During Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, join Dr Raouf Bassily, Dr Shamilah Lachal and Dr Soly Kashkooli for a free information session.  As gastroenterologists, we diagnose too many cases of late stage bowel cancer. The aim of this session is to help educate the community about the importance of bowel cancer screening and early detection, so that diagnosing late stage bowel cancer becomes a thing of the past.Learn about the risk factors, symptoms, bowel cancer screening and the benefit of early diagnosis.  



DATE    |   THURSDAY 27 JUNE 2019  |   7-8pm


RSVP   | ESSENTIAL TO RSVP [email protected]

Light refreshments provided.

 For further information, please call 0434 251 215
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The aim of this meeting is to provide the latest ‘need to know’ information to effectively manage those with IBD or Hepatitis C, and to discuss how we can work together to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.

Oat Free + Gluten Free Anzac Biscuits

As Anzac Day approaches, many make it a tradition to bake some delicious Anzac biscuits. All traditional recipes however, contain oats.


Whilst uncontaminated oats can be tolerated by most with Coeliac disease, for some, oats can trigger a potentially harmful immune response. Oats are naturally gluten free but they do contain the protein avenin, which is similar to gluten. There is also the concern that during the growing and processing of the oats, the oats may be contaminated by wheat, rye or barley. 


It is important to know that bowel damage can occur with oats in those with Coeliac disease despite having no symptoms.


Coeliac Australia recommend that oats should be consumed under medical supervision for those wanting to introduce oats into a gluten free diet. To know whether a person with coeliac disease can safely consume oats, a small bowel biopsy via gastroscopy, before and 3 months following regular oat consumption, can confirm whether any inflammation or damage occurs.


If this sounds all too tricky, there’s always the Oat-Free, Gluten free version of Anzac Biscuits!


Here’s a super easy recipe that is also paleo! (makes 16 biscuits, can store for up to 5 days)




Prep time 10 mins | Cook time 35 mins




1 cup almond meal

1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

1 cup walnuts chopped finely

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. water




Preheat oven to 120 degrees celsius.


In a large mixing bowl mix the almond meal, coconut and walnuts.


In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and honey together. Once blended, turn off the heat

and stir in the baking powder and water until it foams and turns a white-ish colour.


Transfer this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well until combined.


Take tablespoon-fulls of mixture, and firmly squish into balls with your hands and pop onto a lined baking tray and flatten slightly.


Place the tray in to the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.


Allow to cool, then enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

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