Do you ever feel a bit “overextended” in the belly after a meal? Perhaps “gassy?” Have you ever felt like you’re carrying a “food baby?” BLOATED!
Well, bloating is common. Up to 16-30% of people experience it regularly and it happens when you have trouble digesting. Put simply, bloating involves excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in your digestive system. There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), it is most often caused by the diet and some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to. Maybe because of a serious condition (disease), abnormal gut bacteria, stress, or a food allergy or intolerance (what you eat). It can also result from how you eat.
If you often suffer from bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.
1 – Take Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics
Many over-the-counter products can be useful against bloating and other digestive problems. These are usually digestive enzymes that help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They will help with a wide variety of symptoms, including gas and bloating, and help improve the consistency and frequency of bowel movements.
Look for a product that contains pepsin, protease, lipase and amylase, and take 1-2 with each meal.
Gas produced by the bacteria in the intestine is a major contributor to bloating. Probiotic supplements can help improve the bacterial environment in the gut, which can help reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.
Find a probiotic that contains strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. More variety is superior to single strains. In general, doses starting at 10 billion CFUs are well tolerated.
2 – Eliminate Food Offenders
Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common. When you eat foods that you are intolerant to, it can cause excess gas production, bloating and other symptoms.
Here are some common allergenic foods and ingredients to consider: lactose, fructose, wheat, gluten and eggs. Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beans, protein powders, protein bars, and soy all have a long record of bringing on the bloat as well.
3 – Avoid sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these. So, try avoiding them and see if that helps you.
4 – Avoid swallowing air
Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit here. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.
You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…
5 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed
Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. Eating on the run, scarfing down a sandwich on the way to your car, or slamming down a protein shake standing by the sink doesn’t give your body much time to get into a nice, relaxed state to support optimal digestion. Eating quickly and talking with your mouth full introduces a lot of extra air that eventually has to escape. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Sit when you eat, slow down, and chew your food until it is a soft paste. This will help decrease gas and bloating and cut down on overeating, too.
The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing (but not while you’re eating). 🙂
6 – Try Herbs
Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try steeping fresh peppermint leaves, or a peppermint tea bag, and drinking it slowly. Other gas-reducing herbs often are available as tea, singly or in blends. Chamomile, fennel, anise, peppermint and caraway are all excellent choices, and you can determine which ones you enjoy most. If tea is not your thing, they are available in drops or capsules that can be taken after meals. See if that helps reduce your symptoms.
If you suffer from chronic bloating, there are natural ways to deal with it.
First, avoid eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating more mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, enjoy a cup of herbal tea .
If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance or allergy. Bloating is usually not a serious medical issue, but there are circumstances that require further investigation. See your doctor if you have frequent bloating with other symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, fever, weight loss, poor appetite, or bloody stools. Your doctor can help to rule out a serious and/or chronic condition.
Recipe (peppermint): Peppermint Mocha Creamer
1 can coconut milk
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
2 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened
½ tsp peppermint extract or essential oil (food-grade and safe for internal use)
3 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.
Store in a sealed container in your fridge.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: While the non-peppermint ingredients in this creamer may or may not be “de-bloating” for you, try these ideas too:
- Grow peppermint yourself;
- Chew on the fresh leaves; and/or
- Steep them for tea.