8 Tips to BEAT the BLOAT

I feel bloating is something most experience at some point in their lives. But because it occurs quite often, most accept it as a normal part of their lives. But common does not translate to normal. If you needed to hear it quite clearly, let me say it - Bloating is NOT normal! There are simple steps anyone can take to help relieve bloating. But, it is important to understand WHAT is causing the bloating - which I will explain towards the end of this article. But for now, let's dive right into those bloat-relieving tips!

Manage your Stress

Stress is a major trigger for most gut issues and bloating is one of the ways the body alarms us that things are off. This includes physiological shifts from cortisol spikes to gut microbiome alterations. But managing stress is easier said than done. While this is a whole topic on its own, we can do simple things to immediately mitigate stress. One of my favorite ways is slow and mindful breathing. While experiencing bloating, slow & deep breaths can offer immediate relief to both stress and bloating

Eat Slowly & Mindfully

Did you know that digestion actually begins in the brain? The brain and gut talk to each other constantly. The look and smell of the food get the brain going first. A nerve called the vagus nerve signals the gut to begin gastric secretions. You start to "feel" hungry and salivate a little bit both at the sight and the smell of the food. This is called the Cephalic Phase of digestion. So when you sit down to eat, take the time to see your food, take in the aroma - as the gut & brain appreciate these cues to prep for proper digestion! Secondly, take the time to taste the food. If you are slurping up smoothies or soup, appreciate the taste of the food. If you are eating solids, take the time to chew your food. This breaks down the food just enough for the stomach to do the rest of it. Finally, make sure you are not distracted with other tasks while eating. Put away the phone, computer, tablets or books! Your food demands as much attention if not more than social media posts or any interesting reads. Social media or work can wait - your food may not.

Move your Body

Movement helps relieve bloating. period. Physical activity allows peristalsis of the gut. This is just a fancy term for the contraction of the smooth muscles in the digestive tract. This allows gas to move through the tract as well - especially after eating. So if you tend to feel the food just sitting after a meal, going for a walk can help activate the gut peristalsis, relieve & prevent bloating.

Mind your Hydration

Staying hydrated is super important to optimize so many things in the body. This includes proper digestion, immune system support as well as keeping the brain happy and preventing any brain fog. There is a clinical theory that hydration can work against you and cause further bloating if you drink water right before or during your main meals. The claim here is drinking water right before or during meals impact stomach acid and digestive enzyme function. There isn‘t solid clinical evidence to go with this yet, however, I err on the side bioindoviduality. Pay attention to your water intake before and during your meals and your bloating symptoms. If you notice you are one who gets bloated easily, be mindful of your water intake 20 min before your meal.

Space out your meals

Sometimes all your digestive system needs is some time to do its job! By eating more frequently, you are not give the gut the time it needs to do it’s housekeeping duties. Snacking in between meals can overwork the gut to a point where it manifests as the dreaded bloat. So have wholesome filling meals and give your gut at least 3-4 hours before introducing another meal!

Skip the sugary stuff

I used to be a huge sweet tooth. I personally suffered from skin issues along with awful bloating in the past. Ditching processed sugars had an immediate impact on both my skin & gut function. Sugar is bad news bears for the gut - especially the unfriendly gut bacteria and can often be the trigger for bloating. Instead of going for the processed sugary foods opt for natural sources such as fruits. They are nature’s candy in my opinion and offers tons of nutrients that are great for the gut. One caveat is to be mindful of your servings - because even from a natural source, sugars from fruits can also lead to bloating.

Avoid trigger foods

Like sugar, there can be foods that trigger your bloating. Two most common causes of bloating are gluten and dairy. Both have shown to have a considerable impact on the gut lining and intestinal barrier function. This may be because of not being able to break down these foods appropriately. When they are not properly digested, the gut bacteria converts them to “gas” that these bacteria gut release leads to bloating. It helps to work with a professional to help identifying individual triggers, because it isn‘t necessarily the same for everyone.

Indulge in stomach-soothing herbs

Don’t worry you do not need to go to any fancy apothecaries for this. I am talking about herbs that may already be in your kitchen like ginger and peppermint. These herbs have a unique ability to help calm gastric distress and ease bloating. Brew up a warm cup of two steeped with these herbs and enjoy these cozy sips.

There you have it folks! 8 simple de-bloating tips to help ease belly discomfort. One thing I’d like to add is while these tips are helpful, it is important to understand the root cause of your bloating - especially if bloating is something you experience constantly. Some of the key reasons of bloating include low stomach acid and digestive enzymes caused by a shift in the gut flora. The gut is comprised of both good and bad bacteria - but a healthy gut consists predominantly (about 90%) of the good bacteria. When the bad bacterial count increases, it wreaks havoc in your overall gut function. Shifts in microbiome is seen when you are stressed, are on medications for long term, food intolerances and toxin exposure. When the root of the issue is left unaddressed, it can lead to conditions like IBS, SIBO and even autoimmunity. Working with an integrative medicine practitioner specializing in gut health can really help narrow down the issue and help mitigate the issue.