We all experienced it at some stage of our life. Your jeans get tighter and you suddenly can’t see your own toes! Opsiees! Bloating is when your belly feels swollen after eating. The most common cause of bloating is a build up of excess gas production or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system. It is one of the most common and most intrusive features of functional bowel disorders (1)
A lot of people experience bloating due to excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in their digestive tract, however, for some, it can be related with increased sensitivity to certain foods.
So, how can you reduce or eliminate your bloating in the most natural way?
Here are the 12 best methods that have been proven to effectively reduce bloating.
1. Exclude Food Allergens from Your Diet
Both food allergies and food intolerances are very common nowadays. Our diet has changed drastically in the past century. We consume more processed, fried and high-calorie foods that often lack the needed nutrients that support a healthy gut.
If you have a food allergy or intolerance to a specific food, you will develop some of the symptoms, such as excess gas production, bloating and abdominal discomfort.
These are the most common foods and ingredients you should consider eliminating from your diet:
- Lactose: Lactose is a sugar found in milk and dairy products and it is highly associated with several digestive issues, including bloating.
- Eggs: I am a huge egg lover (organic eggs only!) and they never gave me any bother, but what may work for one person may not for another. If you have an egg allergy and you eliminate eggs from your diet you should see a significant difference.
- Fructose: Fructose intolerance has been shown to develop certain bloating.
- Wheat and gluten: I’m sure you all are already familiar with gluten intolerances and gluten-free diets. Cutting our on bread and other gluten products can improve your digestion and eliminate bloating.
2. Try a FODMAP diet
FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates found in certain foods, including fruits, wheat and beans. FODMAPs are directly linked to gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhoea and even constipation. FODMAPs are great for those who have a healthy microbiome as this type of dietary fibre feeds your good bacteria in the gut, which consequently leads to numerous health benefits. However, if you are experiencing a dysbiosis, consuming this form of fibre can develop unwanted symptoms, such as bloating.
If you would like to find out more about a FODMAP diet book a FREE 30-minute session with a nutritionist here.
But to give you an idea of what kind of foods are considered as high-FODMAP foods that should be avoided, here are a few to name:
3. Avoid Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are a popular alternative to sugar. The share the same taste and texture, but contain fewer calories compare to ordinary sugar. However, sugar alcohols are also in the category of high-FODMAP foods and so, they may cause stomach upset and bloating in some individuals.
Some common types of sugar alcohols are:
- HSH (hydrogenated starch hydrolysates)
Sugar-free foods and chewing gums often contain sugar alcohols and so try to avoid these from your diet.
4. Supplement with digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes are necessary for effective digestion and nutrient absorption. They break down large molecules such as fats, proteins and carbs into smaller molecules that can then be absorbed through the gut lining into our blood.
Sometimes, our bodies don’t produce enough of these digestive enzymes. This can slow the digestion process and lead to unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating.
The most common digestive enzymes are:
Lipase: breaks down fats.
Amylase: breaks down carbohydrates.
Proteases: break down proteins.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes can give you almost immediate relief. Here is my recommendation for the best digestive enzyme supplement.
You can also consume foods before your main meal, that naturally contain these enzymes, such as papaya and pineapple.
5. Drink plenty of water
Getting dehydrated can often lead to constipation. Constipation is a very common digestive problem that can be developed due to many different causes.
No matter what the cause is of your constipation always make sure you consume at least 2L of filtered water (you can add lemon juice for extra flavour and health benefits) every day. If you live in a hot country try to aim even for 3L a day.
6. Eat fibre
A lack of fibre in your diet is also related to constipation which consequently leads to bloating.
Getting enough of soluble fibre, which is found in oat bran, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and certain fruit and vegetables, can improve your symptoms significantly and improve regular bowel movement. If you struggle to get enough soluble fibre from your diet a recommend supplement psyllium can be a good idea to purchase. Here is my recommended brand for psyllium.
7. Take probiotic
It is the bacteria in our gut that produce gas, and if there is a bacterial imbalance, your bacteria may end up producing more gas than it is natural and therefore, cause bloating.
It can be challenging to find an effective probiotic that actually, works. Probiotics are live bacteria and they often get killed by our strong stomach acids. So, by the time they reach our colon where they should do their job, they are often dead and can’t provide us with any health benefits.
However, there is some hope! I highly recommend Just thrive probiotic supplement which is a spore bacterial probiotic. This means the bacteria are in a spore, which works slightly like a protective bubble. This supplement also produces antioxidants once in the gut.
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8. Cut out all the junk food from your diet
The Western diet has become our poison. Foods containing too much salt, sugar, processed oil and preservatives have turned into an epidemic of obesity and metabolic comorbidities. This includes digestive problems and bloating.
If you consume a Western diet, I highly recommend you to change it upside down.
It can be overwhelming and difficult to switch from this kind of diet to a healthier, gut-friendly diet and so, the gradual conversion is always much more effective. Begin with cutting out sugar and sugary foods the first week.
Then focus on reducing less salt and rather introduce fresh herbs and spices. The third week you can eliminate meat products, including processed meat products. Actually, these should be avoided completely as your body does not benefit from them in any way.
9. Practice Yoga Regularly
I used to have small bloating issues, especially when it was coming closer to my menstrual cycle. Girls, don’t worry if you get slightly bloated around this time of the month. One thing I find very effective is practising few yoga moves.
We all have busy lives and sometimes, it can be slightly challenging to find time to go to a yoga class. But, luckily the internet is full of amazing yoga videos so nothing should be stopping you from finding 20 minutes in your busy schedule to roll out your yoga mat, place your laptop in front of you and just enjoy a quick and easy yoga to reduce your bloating.
I really enjoy this easy-to-follow yoga video for bloating and digestion Namaste!
10. Try abdominal massage
Massaging your abdomen can help to get the bowels moving along with your excess gas.
However, in order to get things moving the right direction follow these steps:
- Placing the hands just above the right hip bone.
- Rubbing in a circular motion with light pressure up toward the right side of the ribcage.
- Rubbing straight across the upper belly area toward the left rib cage.
- Moving slowly down toward the left hip bone.
- Repeating as necessary.
Remember to be very gentle and if the message will cause you any pain, it is best to stop.
11. Don’t stress
There is no doubt that too much stress changes the body. A moderate amount of stress is healthy. In fact, exposure to a little stress that you can effectively master can make you stronger and better at managing stress.
However, intense stress or anxiety can trigger back pain and stomach discomfort, including bloating. And before you know it, you will find yourself in a never-ending stress cycle as your bloating caused directly by stress is making you even more stressed and anxious.
It can be easier said than done, I know. But once you implement a regular self-care routine, such as going for a massage once a week, attend a yoga class or just simply meditating for 20 minutes every morning, you will feel lost if you miss a session.
12. Eat Slowly
I deserve a GOLD MEDAL for being a slow eater since I can remember. Growing up as a very picky eater meant I picked through the food for as long as possible so my mum would lose patience and tell me to leave it.
Now, I can proudly say there aren’t many things I wouldn’t eat or give a try to, but my consistent slow eating (20-30 minutes) stayed with me.
Eating too fast almost always can lead to bloating. When we eat too quickly, we tend to inhale a lot of air and not chew our food properly. As a result, we end up with large pieces of food in our belly that are more difficult to digest.
Final result = BLOATING!
My best advice is to slow everything down. Breath, chew well and take time. The more you push yourself to finish the meal, the more pressure you are putting on your belly.
Bloating, being one of the most common digestive problems can be caused by many factors. Aim for clean, natural eating. Enjoy your food and never rush yourself. Sleep well and practice regular self-care!
Let me know what have you tried, what worked, what failed and what is your form of self-care!
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Feel free to book a FREE 30-minute session with a nutritionist specialising in digestive health and finally get some answers that Dr.Google can’t answer for you. ?