10 top tips to help you beat that Bloat!
Feeling heavy, gassy and bloated regularly? While a swollen stomach is not usually a sign of anything serious, its uncomfortable, embarrassing and a mood and energy killer. What even causes bloat? Most importantly, how do we get rid of it?
Here are some tips to get rid of bloat naturally and sometimes prevent it completely.
- Drink up!
Aside from hydrating you, water throughout the day can prevent constipation, a huge cause of bloat. Water keeps things moving. Shoot for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However WHEN you drink water is important. Chugging too much water before a workout makes your belly swell. Avoid that sloshy, overfull feeling by drinking 16-24 ounces of water one to two hours before a workout and toping off your tank with 8 ounces 15 minutes before you work out. Additionally, drinking water DURING your meals could be causing bloat by diluting your stomach acid and making it more difficult to digest your food properly. So again, drink water well BEFORE a meal, and well after a meal, but not during.
- Eat a banana a day.
The potassium it contains helps prevent bloat. When potassium is low, the body retains extra sodium and holds onto water. Other potassium rich foods include: tomatoes, mushrooms, and dark leafy greens.
- Get moving!
Exercise stimulates circulation and intestinal function, causing regular bowel movement (1-2 movements a day). Even a 15-minute walk can help banish your bloat. If you sit for long periods of time, make it a point to get up and move your body as a digestive booster. Strengthening your abdominal muscles also strengthens our digestive muscles, this eases digestion and speeding up your heart rate increases your intestinal speed. Less amount of time with food in your intestinal tract, the less chance there is for gas.
Certain Yoga poses can help increase blood flow to the digestive tract and sooth digestion, like seated or laying spinal twists and knees to chest wind relieving pose.
- Chew more!
When you eat quickly, you swallow lots of air, which ends up trapped in your digestive system, while bigger pieces of poorly chewed food make digestion more difficult. As I like to say, chew until liquid. Try spending twice the amount of time chewing than you normally would. This process physically mashes the food, making it easier on the stomach, because our stomachs don’t have teeth. Chewing more also triggers enzymes to be released via our saliva and digestive juices to break food down further into absorbable nutrients. It sounds simple, but this practice of chewing more is hard at first, be patient with yourself and keep trying. Slow down and take smaller bites to decrease bloating. Having smaller meals more frequently throughout the day (rather than stuffing yourself) can help digestion. Enjoy small snacks of easy to digest lighter food.
- Increase stomach acid and enzyme production.
Stomach acid and digestive enzymes are required to digest protein. Undigested protein rots in the guy causing bloating, gas and other digestive issues. Imbalance in stomach acid may also lead to carbohydrates not being broken down properly and may lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine, causing bloating and gas. Avoid antacids. Take digestive bitters before each meal. Bitters help increase both stomach acid and digestive enzymes (and bonus reduce your sweets cravings).
Another trick: have a few olives before meals. Apple cider vinegar is also known to improve acid content in the stomach. Mix and drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water 20 minutes before a meal.
- Avoid eating after 7 pm or 3 hours before bed.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat late you’re more likely to wake up feeling heavy and bloated? It takes 3 hours for your food to get broken down in your stomach, so if you go to bed in that time you can cause acid spill out, causing heartburn. Food digests much better when you’re upright rather than lying down. Additional bonus: better quality sleep, when your body can put its energy in rest and repair rather than still digesting.
- Diaphragmatic breathing.
Also known as abdominal or belly breathing. Being backed up and bloated may also be because your intestines simply have no life in them to get things moving along. Their energy is stale and lethargic. Belly breathing is a gentle way to wake things up. On the “in” breath consciously ensure your chest is not expanding, but your belly is. Imagine air moving deep down into your bowel, allowing your lower abdomen to balloon out. On the “out” breath pull your belly in as though you were squeezing the air out of it. Do this slowly and gently. Do this whenever you remember to, the idea is to do it so often that it starts to become your normal way of breathing. There are many other health benefits associated with belly breathing, learn about them here.
- Determine food sensitivities
While you’re probably aware of your true food allergies, you may not be aware of your food sensitivities or intolerances. Figuring this out could solve a lot of bloat and digestive problems. Common food sensitivities include: dairy, gluten, eggs, nightshades, sugar and high fructose foods, soy, legumes, and processed foods (MSG, sulfites or carrageenan). Try an elimination diet to determine culprits. Eliminate all suspect foods for 2-3 weeks and then adding them back in one at a time so you know which ones irritate you. If you need help planning out an elimination diet, and what you can still eat, connect with me.
- Balance your fiber intake
If you’re used to low fiber meals and you suddenly start eating a lot of fruit, salads, and vegetables, you’re going to be bloated. This is the result of not giving your digestive system enough time to adjust. You don’t have the right bacteria in your gut to help digest the increased amount of fiber. Foods like legumes, onions, and cruciferous veggies trigger this issue because their natural sugars are difficult for your body to break down when they are first added to your diet. We have trillions of bacteria in our intestines, which help us process the food our stomach and intestines have a hard time breaking down. Bacteria feed on this food, and produce gas. The type of bacteria in your gut is determined by what you eat. Without the right kinds of bacteria, fibrous foods that are slower to digest, linger in the gut even longer, giving bacteria time to create gas. Make your belly fiber friendly by building up your tolerance gradually. Over time add a little bit more and more fibrous foods, and your gut bacteria population will reach a new “normal” baseline. The more of these foods we eat, the more efficiently our bodies create the enzymes we need to digest them.
-Legumes: stick to little guys like lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas and black beans. They tend to cause less gas and bloating compared to the larger beans. If cooking dried beans, cook them with Kombu (dried seaweed found in most grocery stores) After soaking dried beans overnight before boiling them, drain the soaking water, add new filtered water and a strip of kombu. The kombu contains enyzmes that breakdown the gas-causing simple sugars in beans and cruciferous veggies.
-Chose cooked over raw at first when it comes to cruciferous veggies and onions.
-Balance soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble-fiber rich foods (beans, lentils, chia seeds, oats, flax) is often to blame for gassiness and insoluble fiber (veggies, fruit, grains) help things move out more quickly allowing for less gas time potential. But the soluble-fiber rich foods are important to keep in your diet.
- Choose whole real foods.
Eating fatty, fried, and heavy foods make us stay full longer, and take extra gas-producing reactions in your system to break down these types of foods. Sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol, xylitol and maltitol) that are found in artificially sweetened, sugar-free or “no sugar added” foods are also problematic because our bodies can digest them.
Focus on whole plant foods like whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Try implementing these tricks one or two at a time, and see what works for you. If you need help changing your diet and/or lifestyle, connect with me I’ve got you.