Bust the Bloat
By Rachel Aldridge
You know that feeling – where you woke up just fine but by the end of the day it feels like you need to be surgically cut out of your pants?? Being bloated is one of the most common digestive complaints and the reasons behind it are not always straightforward (Seo, Kim and Oh, 2013).
Causes of bloating can include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth), food intolerances, celiac disease, imbalance gut bacteria (Lacy, Gabbard and Crowell, 2011) and stress which I believe is a big one (Qin, 2014). As with any symptom it is essential to find out the cause (that’s where working with a practitioner can really help) but in the meantime here are a few tips for you to try to help you bust the bloat:
Food as medicine
What you eat can both rescue the chances of getting bloated but can also help you when you are feeling uncomfortable.
A few tips to keep in mind:
+ Have apple cider vinegar 15-30 minutes before meals (around a tablespoon) – this will increase your stomach acid and help you digest your food. Dilute the ACV in a small glass of water.
+ Eat some bitter foods such as rocket/arugula (this increases your ability to digest)
+ Enjoy some foods that are high in digestive enzymes, these include sauerkraut, kimchi, papaya, kimchi, raw honey, avocado, ginger, miso, mango, pineapple and kiwifruit
+ To help you reduce the symptoms enjoy ginger, fennel and peppermint – even make a nice tea out of these and sip on it when you are feeling uncomfortable
+ Speaking of tea, I also love roasted dandelion tea. This bitter herb really helps with your digestive function
+ Look at foods you seem to react to and do your best to avoid these
What you do is just as important as what you eat.
Chronic stress and ongoing activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) reduces digestive function. This can lead to discomfort following meals, plus may compromise digestion of food and absorption of essential nutrients.
What this means is that it's just as important to focus on HOW you're eating as well as WHAT you're eating.
A few things to keep in mind when eating:
+ Sit down to eat
+ Focus on eating, rather than being distracted by other things (e.g. work, TV)
+ Chew every mouthful 20-30 times (this may feel tedious at first, but is very useful for improving digestion via the stimulation of gastric enzyme and hydrochloric acid release)
+ Before eating, aim to slow down breathing, and even try Pranayama (e.g. alternate nostril breathing) or similar which aims to reactivate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).