Suffering from stomach bloat? You’re not alone – bloating is one of the most common digestive complaints.
The foods you choose to put in your body can have an enormous impact on your digestive health and well-being…but nutrition isn’t the only story. You need to consider all aspects of your lifestyle to truly get your digestion back on track.
What causes stomach bloat?
Bloating can be acute or chronic, and be caused by a number of factors.
Here are just a few of the causes of stomach bloat:
- Compression of the abdomen from tight clothes or prolonged sitting
- Swallowing air by chewing gum, chewing food with mouth open or drinking carbonated drinks
- Sluggish digestion, slow stomach emptying and constipation
- Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the intestinal bacteria
- Digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease or Crohn’s disease
How to banish stomach bloating
As a dietitian, I also know that reaching better digestive health is also a highly individualized process; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to try different approaches to see which eases symptoms for you. And what works for you may not work for someone else. You are finding the grab bag of strategies that fit your unique constitution.
For my clients with irritable bowel syndrome, we may focus on a low FODMAPS eating strategy and stress reduction; for those with sluggish digestion and constipation, we may be looking at fibre, physical activity and probiotics. But generally speaking, there are quite a few generalized recommendations you can make that are likely to support better digestive health.
Try these tips to see how they help…and if you are ready to take your digestive health to the next level, I have a few options for you: check out my FREE Banish the Bloat one-day meal plan or try my full 21 day Banish the Bloat Self-Guided Program.
One: Never Eat Stressed
Ever make it to 2PM on a busy workday, realize you haven’t eaten lunch, only to shovel something down and keep on working? How did that feel? Did lunch feel more like a brick in your stomach than nourishment? How gassy were you that evening? Your stress response was hindering digestion. If you are stressed, calm down before you eat, or consider not eating until you can get to a more relaxed state. Stress has a massive impact on digestion overall, so if you are chronically stressed, consider taking steps to neutralize that stress through meditation, lightening your schedule or taking adaptogens.
Two: Try peppermint
Peppermint is a carminative herb that relaxes digestive contractions and is evidence-based to dull the sensations of pain in IBS…but note that it isn’t a great choice if you have major reflux issues. If you have IBS, take it three times a day as directed. Suffer from general bowel pain? Try brewing very strong peppermint tea by using 2-3 tea bags per cup or taking enteric coated peppermint oil as needed.
Three: Watch the booze
Alcohol is an irritant to the digestive tract…and it causes dehydration that can lead to constipation. Both factors mess with your gut, big time. Try cutting back and see what happens. I like to recommend five alcohol free days a week, and fewer drinks at one sitting, to my clients so their gut has time to calm down.
Four: Try fibre…soluble fibre
Fibre is like a personal trainer for your digestive tract. Low fibre diet? Digestion will suffer. However, if you are suffering from an irritable tummy, going for roughage might feel like razors shredding your intestines. Instead, start with soluble fibre. Sources of soluble fibre include oranges, okra, eggplant, chia seeds and psyllium.
I often recommend my clients begin taking 1 teaspoon of psyllium daily, with plenty of water, and increase up to 1 tablespoon daily over a couple of weeks if tolerated. Go slow with increases in fibre and drink lots of water to help this soothing, gel-like fibre do its work.
Five: Get outside
Since stress is so caustic to your digestive tract, you should try spending time in one of the best stress-reducing settings known to (wo)man: nature. Go to a park, a beach, a forest….and take it all in, minus your smart phone. Let your mind and eyes wander. Repeat as often as you can.