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Ask Elsa: Bloatedness

Q My stomach feels bloated after mealtimes, I find myself having to open my top button to let my stomach expand after I eat, which is embarrassing. Why does this happen and what can I do?

A Stomach bloating is often a symptom of insufficient digestion. When we eat we produce digestive enzymes in the mouth and stomach which break down the foods and help us to absorb nutrients. If we do not have enough enzymes, the food matter sits in the stomach and ferments, producing gas and causing bloating.

Eat smaller meals more often during the day. Don't drink large amounts of liquids for 30 minutes either side of a meal as this will dilute the digestive enzymes. Consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement before meals or take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a little warm water 20 minutes before a meal to get your digestive juices flowing.

Eat more green bitter foods such as rocket, radicchio and endive, which promote digestion. Reduce foods such as sugar, wheat, dairy, processed foods, tea, coffee and alcohol as these can decrease the effectiveness of your digestion. Try drinking herbal teas which aid digestion such as fennel or peppermint.

Q Prostate cancer runs in my family, I'm 61 and my doctor said that my PSA levels are slightly elevated. What does this mean and is there anything I can do to keep my prostate healthy?

A Elevated PSA levels are not a definite sign that cancer is imminent. However, given your family history and age, it's vital that you get it checked regularly.

Optimum prostate health requires plenty of antioxidant vitamins and minerals which help protect the body from disease. Aim to eat between five and 10 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Variety is the key here so make sure to consume as many different coloured vegetables and fruit as possible. Tomatoes are particularly beneficial as they contain lycopene, a nutrient specific for the prostate gland.

Garlic may inhibit the production of PSA. Zinc is also a powerful anti-oxidant for male reproductive health; try snacking on pumpkin seeds which are a rich source of this mineral. The herb green tea taken in tablet form and taken for at least three months may also help lower PSA levels.

Elsa Jones is a nutritional therapist and presenter of How Healthy are You? on TV3. Elsa offers individual consultations and group courses. Visit www.elsajones nutrition.ie