What is Bloating:
Bloating is extremely common and involves the feeling of excess pressure and heaviness in the stomach, usually caused by excess intestinal gas. Other bothersome symptoms include an uncomfortable tight stomach, gassiness and painful stomach cramps.
Causes of Bloating:
Occasional bloating is generally harmless, resulting from eating gas-promoting foods, consuming fizzy drinks, swallowing too much air from eating too quickly or chewing gum, overeating, hormonal changes such as those experienced during premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or fluid retention. Chronic or severe bloating may signify more serious conditions like gastrointestinal disorders ((inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) & coeliac disease)) or food intolerances.
To ‘beat the bloat’ and feel your best, it’s important to pinpoint the root cause. This will allow you to incorporate the most effective nutrition and wellness strategies to alleviate discomfort and promote better digestive health.
Here’s 12 ways to prevent bloating:
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water encourages waste to pass through your digestive system at a faster rate and helps avoid water retention, which can often contribute towards bloating.
- Limit Gas-Producing Foods: Be mindful when consuming gas-producing foods such as legumes and cruciferous vegetables (for example, brussel sprouts, bok choy, broccoli and cauliflower) as they have the tendency to contribute towards a buildup of gas. To enhance digestion of cruciferous vegetables, consider cooking them before consumption rather than consuming them raw. For legumes, a helpful tip is to soak them overnight, discard the soaked water and rinse thoroughly again, as this process helps to remove sugars responsible for gas production.
- Mindful Eating: Eating slowly and chewing food well can prevent excess air intake, which in turn reduces bloating. Additionally, avoiding artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol is crucial to prevent bloating and abdominal pain (top tip – these sugars are often hidden in ‘no sugar’ products, including soft drinks and chewing gum). In some cases, they may cause a laxative effect along with bloating and gas.
- Probiotics: Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like coconut yoghurt, coconut kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi into your diet or use high-quality probiotic supplements to promote a healthy gut flora and support optimal digestion.
- Avoid Trigger Foods: Identify and avoid foods that trigger bloating in your body. Keeping a food diary is a great way to record your symptoms and to help identify any food-related trigger. Common culprits include dairy products, gluten, artificial sweeteners and high-fat foods. Caffeine can also overstimulate the digestive system, which in turn can lead to excess gas production and bloating. Try Plenish M*lks for a dairy-free and bloat-busting milk alternative.
- Incorporate Ginger: Ginger soothes and regulates the digestive system, helping to alleviate bloating and painful stomach cramps. Consider using Plenish Ginger Immunity Shot as a natural, on-the-go remedy.
- Reduce Excess Sodium Intake: Reducing excess salt consumption can prevent water retention, which in turn has been found to alleviate bloating. Instead, opt for anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like cumin, fennel, and coriander to flavour your food.
- Get Moving: Engaging in physical activity stimulates bowel movements and helps to move along any built-up gas in the digestive system to alleviate bloating. Walking, light jogging, yoga, pilates and swimming are fantastic options.
- Manage Stress: Stress-reducing techniques, like meditation and deep breathing exercises, can positively impact digestion and reduce bloating by activating the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve aids communication between the mind and the digestive system, hence a healthy, balanced mind results in a healthy gut! Potassium plays a crucial role in supporting the nervous system. Try Boost or Lift to up your potassium intake to promote a healthy functioning nervous system and a sense of calm.
- Avoid Overeating: Opt for well-portioned, balanced meals to ease the burden on your digestive system and reduce the likelihood of bloating. Overeating causes the digestive system to work overtime to both digest and assimilate the excess nutrients. Moreover, excess food travelling through the stomach and intestines can exacerbate gas production and bloating.
- Incorporate Herbal Teas: Swap your usual cup of tea for a soothing peppermint tea to beat bloating. Peppermint leaves contain compounds that relax the digestive muscles, facilitating the release of any trapped gas. Sip peppermint tea after meals for optimal bloating relief!
- Identify Food Intolerances: If bloating is ongoing and severely painful, consider speaking with your doctor or healthcare professional to discuss the possibility of food intolerances or any other underlying digestive-related issues.
Keep in mind that the points mentioned above are general guidelines and everyone’s body is unique. As you implement these strategies, take your time and pay attention to how your body responds. This will help you discover the most effective bloating protocol for you personally so you can take charge and feel the best version of yourself.
Author: Katie Morley
DipNT, mBANT, mANP, CNHC