Super fit social media phenomenon Chloe Madeley’s 15 year bloating problem often made her look pregnant, she says. Then a new probiotic supplement changed all that
Last year when Chloe Madeley shared pictures of her bloated belly, referring to herself as looking ‘a few months pregnant’, rather than become the subject of shame and derision, her 150,000 followers by adoring her even more for her honesty and openness. What many of them may not have known is that the 30-year-old daughter of TV presenters Judy Finnegan and Richard Madeley has suffered from severe and painful bloating since she was a teenager.
‘I remember being a prepubescent teenager and wanting to be like all my friends and wear belly tops,’ says Madeley, who completed Channel 4’s The Jump in 2015, hosted by Davina McCall. ‘The Spice Girls and Christina Aguilera were our icons. But I would really struggle with bloating every day, even though I was really skinny growing up’.
I was always bloated by the end of every day; a feeling of having really bad trapped gas
As the reality star got older, she also got into health and fitness, growing a loyal social media following that actively supports Madeley’s efforts to live healthy, in and out of the gym. But Madeley attributes what had by then become a severe bloating problem directly to her super-healthy lifestyle. ”Ironically, as I got older and more into health and fitness in my twenties it got worse,’ she remembers. ‘I was manipulating my fibre and water intake and implementing things like cheat meals, the I started to get this terrible pain and was always bloated by the end of every day; kind of like a feeling of having really bad trapped gas, every day; a sharp, stabbing pain below my ribs. It was awful.’
Bloating I get the worst #bloat ever, there are days when I literally look a few months pregs. I don’t have #IBS thankfully, I just mess around with my #water intake from time to time and I #eat A LOT of #fibre (#veg) allll day long. Bloating is usually down to #water retention. This can happen the first few days of an increased or decreased #water intake. It can happen the first few days of an increased or decreased #carbohydrate intake. It can happen if your #hormones are unstable, so a #menstrual cycle, heightened stress levels etc It can happen with an increased #fibre intake, if you eat a lot of cruciferous #veg you’re likely to #bloat initially. Intolerances are obviously a problem. Some people have a low tolerance to #carbohydrates , some #lactose , I have to be very careful with #oily fats or I #retain a lot of #water. Everybody is different. There’s a lot you can do to help #bloating , try to keep your #water intake relatively high and stable. Probiotics help. Cruciferous #veg like #cabbage broccoli and #cauliflower are more likely to bloat you. Try things like leafy greens, things like #asparagus etc I find giving my midsection a deep tissue massage when I’m in the shower really helps (pressurise your stomach from the top down to the bottom with your fingers and palms of your hands for a few minutes). I know that sounds strange but it’s a Chinese massage technique and it’s really helpful when it comes to calming bloat and water retention. But essentially, don’t freak out, it happens sometimes, so chug some water and rub your belly and draw a smiley face around your button 😊
So, if it was mostly healthy food on the menu for the gym lover, what triggered the worsening of her bloating? ‘When I first got into health and fitness, I started playing around with my food intake with new fibre and water goals to hit. Plus, I was training twice a day in the gym and that meant my protein requirements were quite high [protein helps rebuild muscle], with my whole diet centred around eating protein with vegetables up to five times a day,’ says Madeley. ‘But the body finds it hard to metabolise protein, especially when it is synthetic. I was consuming a lot of protein powders at the time and really seeing the side effects – more bloating, more gas, and more pain.’
With her growing awareness of wellbeing therapies and practices, did anything help? ‘I would just chug water like a fish,’ says Madeley. ‘That was my solution, mainly. I tried massages on my midsection but that didn’t help. I always had a flat tummy in the morning so that’s when I would take my selfies, but by the end of the day, I often looked pregnant.
‘So there I was getting into better and better shape with this constantly bloated belly and that’s when I realised my bloat was getting worse, not better with this healthy diet. My friends and family would constantly tell me to shut up because I was always moaning, ‘God, I am so bloated’.
Three years ago, Madeley met her now boyfriend, James Haskell, 32, Wasps and England rugby player and a fellow fitness fanatic and the pair soon became famous on the social media circuit for their honest and playful posts together. ‘James was the first person that ever spoke to me about probiotics,’ she remembers. ‘I’d heard the term before but didn’t know much about it.
‘We’d just started dating and I could see him taking fish oils and all sorts of supplements – his knowledge of nutrition is phenomenal thanks to a long career playing rugby and staying fit. One morning he said: ‘You don’t take supplements do you?’. I started laughing and said ‘No, I get everything I need from food. The whole mentality of hammering supplements into yourself was not something I believed in at the time.’
But Haskell wasn’t having it. ”Chloe, you’re an athlete, you train twice a day, your diet is on point and yet, you’ve got this bloating problem. You need to sort it out.’ I was really stubborn but he badgered me and badgered me about how I needed to take a probiotic. ‘What is wrong with you?’ he said one day. ‘Why don’t you just try them?”
Probiotics are supplements that help replenish healthy bacteria in the gut which can be diminished by a stressful lifestyle, high sugar diet or taking antibiotics. A dearth of good bacteria in the digestive system have been shown to lead to problems as wide-ranging as eczema, depression and obesity and they are well-proven as a leading cause of bloating and irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a condition characterised by severe bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
Curious about how probiotics could help, Madeley did some research and came across a new probiotic supplement called Alflorex, which contains a specific strain (35624) of bacteria shown in clinical trials as effective against the symptoms of IBS such as bloating, tummy pain and alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation in as little as four weeks. ‘It was developed by scientists at the University of Cork and highly rated by gastroenterologists and that really appealed to me. I just started taking one capsule a day [as directed] and at first saw no difference apart from my stomach making lots of gurgling noises,’ she says.
But by the end of her third week taking the supplement, Madeley’s symptoms had changed dramatically. ‘I noticed that when I went to bed at night, my tummy was just as flat as it was in the morning – which was a first for me. I have a flat tummy throughout the day now.
Eight months since starting Alflorex and despite not changing anything about her diet, Madeley’s bloating issues have all but disappeared. ‘I still eat a lot of fibre and protein, I still chug water but I never have any reactions or flare-ups,’ she says. ‘It’s made me much more confident about what I wear now – finally after all the training and dieting and 15 years of suffering bloating, I can wear what I want without worrying about whether my stomach looks bloated or not.’
WHAT I EAT IN A DAY: CHLOE MADELEY
Breakfast: whole oats and protein powder mixed together with billing water from the kettle. ‘It tastes like dessert, it’s the best thing ever.’
Mid-morning snack (pre-training): starchy carbs such as brown rice or sweet potato with vegetables
Lunch: typically lean protein such as chicken or fish with vegetables and a carb source such as rice or sweet potato if it’s around a workout for energy. If it’s not around a workout I won’t have the carbs but have something with fat instead such as some avocado or nuts or a big fritatta with smoked salmon and whatever vegetables I can find.
Mid-afternoon snack (post-training): some vegetables with nuts or avocado.
Dinner: Lean protein such as chicken, fish or a lean cut of steak with brown rice or sweet potato and whatever vegetables I feel like, perhaps some of my speciality, broccoli mash (see below). I also make a great courgetti bolognaise made with lean mince, garlic, chopped tomatoes and chilli, it’s gorgeous,
QUICK RECIPE: CHLOE MADELEY’S AMAZING BROCCOLI MASH
Steam broccoli, drain it and add salt and pepper. Add in some jalapenos and hot sauce (I am obsessed with hot food.’ Then just mash it all together and put a grilled chicken breast on top or a grilled fillet of fish. ‘I grill all my food because I like the taste and this meal is honestly the best meal in the world.’
HOW ALFLOREX WORKS
Alflorex, is the result of more than 17 years of clinical research and 75 leading scientific publications. Probiotics contains special bacteria, and different bacteria in the gut have different functions in the body. Alflorex contain contains a probiotic strain called B. infantis3564 which specifically targets and alleviates the symptoms of IBS, such as bloating, tummy pain and unpredictable diarrhoea and constipation. Only recently launched in the UK, the strain is known in the US as Align, where it is the number one probiotic recommended by gastroenterologists for the treatment of the symptoms of IBS. ‘The gut bacteria plays an important role in many digestive health issues,’ says Professor Eammon Quigley, one of the world’s leading Gastroenterologists in IBS and Chief of Gastroenterology at Houston Methodist Hospital. ‘B. infantis 35624, the strain in Alflorex, is one of the few products that has been truly developed on a scientific basis and tested in high quality clinical studies to help the symptoms of IBS.’
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