Isn't that bloated feeling in your tummy just the pits? Especially when you need to be social or walk into a work meeting. There is a reason for bloating and I'd like to share some of my tips with you to avoid it in the first place. Because once you are bloated, let’s face it – it's hard to hold your tummy and pretend that it's not there.
Bloating is when your belly feels swollen and distended after eating. It is usually caused by excess gas production or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system. Bloating can often cause pain, discomfort and a “stuffed” feeling. It can also make your stomach look a lot bigger than it actually is.
Most people are a little irregular from time to time, and that can make you bloated. Some foods can cause it. So can not drinking enough water, sudden changes in your diet, or eating when you are stressed. It usually passes on its own so staying calm is better than further stressing your nervous system, which will increase your bloating.
The body is very intelligent and will be the first to let you know when undigested food is getting in the way. Bloating and discomfort upon finishing a meal, getting full quickly (early satiety), and feeling sluggish or tired after meals are some other signs your digestion may be in need of some help.
A slow digestive system has to work hard and produce a lot of energy to break down a meal, therefore depleting energy stores and leaving you feeling fatigued.
Digestion issues also cause acid reflux (heartburn), headaches, flatulence, acne and just about every disease.
Skin conditions like acne can arise due to poor fat absorption, low levels of the enzyme that helps break down fat in the body, 'lipase,’ and the body’s inability to absorb the nutrients – such as Vitamin A, E, and K – required to stay healthy and function.
The good news is that digestion can easily and naturally be enhanced with these five simple stop-the-bloat hacks.
Eat When You Are Calm
Digestion operates best whilst you are in a parasympathetic state rather than when you have activated your stress response (sympathetic nervous system). During stress, your body shuts down digestion and diverts blood away from your torso and into your limbs so you can run from danger.
The gut is directly linked to the brain via the gut-brain-axis, so your emotional landscape will directly impact the health of your gut.
Starting your day with three shots of espresso and getting stressed is the worst thing you can do for your digestion. Grabbing breakfast on the run and eating while you walk will often lead to bloating.
The next time you eat, switch off the TV, put down the phone and focus on chewing. Slowing down your eating speed will benefit and enhance digestion. It's all about rest and digest. Eating in a parasympathetic state, will allow your body to properly absorb nutrients and digest at its best.
Take Digestive Enzymes Or Consume Enzyme Rich Foods
Add enzymatic food to your diet such as sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, papaya, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, kiwifruit, and ginger. Enzymes are responsible for breaking down protein, fat and carbohydrates so they are able to be absorbed and utilised by the body for energy, which is all part of the digestive process.
A great trick if you suffer from bloating often of course is to take digestive enzymes with each meal. This will assist in the breaking down of your food and prevent fermentation and gas.
Go For A Walk
Moving stimulates the digestive system to contract, which may help pass trapped gas. Grab your workout gear and go for a brisk walk or run around the block before dinner.
Eat More Fibre
Eat plenty of fibre to help move everything through the digestive tract and ease the feeling of sluggishness. This will help to feed good bacteria and relieve constipation, by supporting regular bowel movements. Fruit and vegetables are high in fibre and add bulk, which can help move things along.
I love taking chia seeds in 250ml of purified water with lemon and hot water. If things are really slow with my digestion, I will have a dose of Smart Cleanse Colon Cleanse Formula.
Hydrate Between Meals
Although it might sound counterintuitive to drink more water when retaining water, drinking water can actually help reduce bloat. Drinking plenty of water helps to naturally flush our systems of excess water and sodium that we might retain.
Water is involved in many important functions in the body and is essential for good digestion. It helps flush out waste from the body, which aids digestion, helps you digest food more effectively, and also helps the body absorb nutrients.
Consume More Probiotics
A well-balanced microbiome is essential in maintaining a strong and healthy digestive and immune system. Dysbiosis occurs when there is a loss of beneficial bacteria coupled with an overgrowth of potentially pathogenic bacteria and an overall reduction in species diversity.
An imbalance in certain species may lead to bloating as beneficial bacteria help to digest fibre-rich foods. Probiotics are good bacteria for the body and can help break down indigestible fibres and assist with bloating and gas.
Research has shown that dysbiosis can result in a number of digestive health conditions such as constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, inflammation, leaky gut syndrome. These can all cause bloating too.
Some bacterial groups are more prone to gas production than others, including Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridia.
Look at specific strains of probiotics to support bloating and digestive enzyme output to help you break down your food. A good probiotic to add if you suffer constant bloating is one that has nine or more strains in each capsule. It's known as a multi-strain probiotic. Gut microbiome diversity is super critical to your gut health.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
This includes refined white sugars and carbohydrates, as these may potentially feed pathogenic bacteria in the gut and cause dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad bacteria).
Eat Potassium Rich Foods
Both water and potassium help flush excess sodium and fluid out of the body. If you’re feeling bloated from excess sodium, the best tip for relief is to drink more water and eat mild foods with potassium avocado and sweet potato. Alternatively you can take a potassium supplement.
Take An Epsom Salts Bath
Magnesium in the form of Epsom salts is a natural saline laxative, so it can help you ditch extra water weight. Most of us are deficient too in magnesium so this is an excellent way to get it into your system. You will sleep better too.
Test For Allergies/Intolerances
Investigate and rule out any potential allergies/food intolerances that could be exacerbating the problem. Keep a food diary or eliminate common triggers such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and eggs and see if symptoms improve.
Eliminate Bloating Once And For All
Hope these simple actionable steps help you beat the bloat. At least you know that when you are bloated it’s a good indication that one of your most important systems has been under pressure, slowed, weakened and become stagnant. It means it’s time for a gut reset and reboot to energise your digestion and empower your gut health.
And remember “All dis-ease begins in the gut.” - Hipocrates
Your Naturopath and Coach,