Hands up who likes the feeling of a bloated tummy! No one? Exactly. Read on to hear our naturopaths explain what causes bloating and our top tips for beating that dreaded feeling.
1. Chew your food thoroughly.
Sometimes the oldest tricks in the book are there for a reason. The first step for better digestion is to chew your food properly. This is because teeth, through mastication, and the enzymes in your saliva, start the process of breaking down your food. Chewing your food properly means food will travel to the stomach and intestines in smaller particles, making it easier for your body to digest. Try to chew food to liquid before swallowing. Also, make sure you’re chewing with your mouth closed, and not only because it’s good manners; it helps to avoid swallowing air, which is an occasional cause of bloating and belching.
2. Eat the protein part of your meal first.
Hydrochloric acid is produced by your stomach and is the strongest at the beginning of your meal. Eating the protein content of your meal last can cause protein to not be digested properly, which leads fermentation and gas, and bloating.
3. Try out the FODMAP diet.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are carbohydrate foods, which may not be digested well and can cause gas, bloating and cramping. The following are some examples of FODMAP foods:
• Fructose (fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup and some fruits such as apples)
• Lactose (dairy)
• Fructans (wheat, onion, garlic, inulin)
• Galactans (beans, lentils, legumes)
• Polyols (sweeteners containing sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, and some stone fruits apricots, peaches, nectarines)
We advise you to chat to your GP regarding whether this diet is right for you.
4. Don’t drink too much fluid with your meals.
Excess fluid when you’re eating can dilute the digestive enzymes our body produces to break down food. This slows down the natural digestive process.
5. Be aware of mineral intake.
Eating too much sodium (found in normal table salts or highly processed food) and not enough potassium can cause bloating and fluid retention. This is because sodium stops the elimination of water from the cells. Eliminate processed foods and/or pre-packaged foods, which tend to be high in sodium but low in potassium. Sodium is an essential nutrient, and we absolutely need it every day. In fact, research has shown that the “sweet spot” for sodium intake is 3-5 grams a day to support overall health. At the same time, getting sufficient potassium was associated with the lowest risk, independent of sodium intake. This means that it is probably an imbalance of sodium and potassium that is the issue. We need to get a balance of all the electrolyte minerals. So, eating “whole” salt in the form of unrefined sea salt or himalayan salt, which have full, trace mineral profiles, instead of refined table salt, and whole foods instead of processed foods, is probably best.
6. Avoid fizzy drinks.
Carbonated beverages contain carbon dioxide to give them that fizz. These bubbles, however, end up in our digestive track where they can cause distension and gas.
7. Eat smaller meals until you feel better.
Large meals distend the stomach, making digestion more difficult. Think of overstuffing a washing machine – nothing would get washed properly. While you recover, you could try to spread your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day and you may start to feel your digestive system kicking into a much better rhythm. Then, when you feel better, you might want to try going longer before eating again, as a healthy digestion should allow for the migrating motor complex (a sort of “sweeping out” of the small intestines) to be active between meals. Snacking can interfere with this and exacerbate bloating symptoms.
8. Stay hydrated.
Drink at least two litres of water a day. Make sure you’re drinking water between meals as this will support kidney function and detoxification. If you’re already feeling bloated, avoid fizzy drinks, as they will only make things worse. Make sure your minerals are balanced, which is essential for hydration.
9. Keep moving.
Exercise improves intestinal transit as well as helping to eliminate excess liquid. Even a short walk in your lunch hour can help keep bloating at bay.
10. Chill out.
Eat your meals in a relaxed environment. Stress is another factor that affects your 消化系统 and can lead to bloating, so try and relax so your body can carry out its natural processes properly. While it’s pretty easy to sit down with dinner in front of the telly, it’s always a better idea to eat in a more relaxed and less distracting space.
11. Give exotic tastes a try.
Herbs and spices to support digestion include turmeric, ginger, fennel, and fenugreek – Add these to your stir-fries or curries. Also, a hot cuppa of chamomile or peppermint tea is known to support recovery from bloating. You could also try chewing a few fennel seeds at the end of a meal to support digestion.
12. Eat foods that are helpful to digestion.
Pineapple and celery may support recovery from bloating whilst dandelion leaf tea functions to support fluid balance. Many people with digestive issues respond well to a lower fibre diet, focusing on animal foods, which contain far more bioavailable nutrients than plant foods.
There are a number of different ways to reduce bloating. If you’re ready to try detox herbs, try Body Cleanse. Good Health offers Body Cleanse Total Body Detox is a gentle, two-part detoxifying formulation that contains popular herbs and nutrients to naturally support the body’s detoxification processes, along with fibre to support toxin removal. It supports healthy liver and bowel function and contains key herbs for supporting healthy skin and blood.
Body Cleanse Total Body Detox is like a spring clean from the inside and may be undertaken as a simple one month or a quick one-week detox.