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How to banish the bloat

Bloating is a condition that happens when your gastrointestinal tract is filled with air or gas.70% of your immune system is located in the gut, so gut bacteria play an important role, and if a normal digestive function is interrupted, good bacteria decreases and you end up with excess gas and an expanded abdomen. And that’s how bloating and bloated belly happens.

We all have it more or less, especially after eating a certain food or some of us even out of nowhere. However, there is a difference between normal bloating and abnormal bloating.

Normal bloating

More than often, when we wake up we have a flatter tummy. Then as the day progresses and we eat and drink, our bellies swell a little bit. By the time we go to bed, we may even have a little “food baby.” This is normal as your body is adapting to your daily intake.

Abnormal bloating

This is usually the bloating that is also accompanied with stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Whenever you are not feeling well, your body is screaming at you that something is not right. Listen to it! There is a strong difference between feeling full after a big dinner and feeling as if your stomach is going to explode.

Banish the bloat
Bloated stomach: most common causes

Why we bloat

There are many reasons for bloating however the top reasons are:

  • Eating too fast. We are usually multitasking as we eat, not really paying attention to our food. We also tend to eat in a hurry which means we are more likely to swallow air in the process!
  • Eating too much sodium. Salt aka sodium retains extra water within your body.
  • Alcohol and carbonated beverages. Not only are sodas and beers packed with useless calories, they are notorious for making you bloat thanks to the air bubbles within the drinks.
  • Hormones. During your ovulation phase and menstrual cycle, your estrogen will rise. This causes you to hold onto extra water! There is nothing you can do about this.
  • Food sensitivities. One of the biggest culprits to bloating are food sensitivities, the main one being gluten!

How to fix bloating

The main way to fix your bloating issue is dependent on the reason why you are bloating to begin with! If we are using the reasons for bloating above, here are some tips to fix it:

  • Eat slowly. Stop being in a rush and looking at the tv or phone as you eat-instead pay attention to your chews so you can be mindful.
  • Limit your salt. Stop adding extra salt to your meals and aim for foods/meals that are low in sodium. Most prepackaged meals and snacks have lots of hidden sodium contents in them! Read the nutrition labels so you can get familiar with this. If you have eaten too much salt, drink more water to counterbalance the effects.
  • Ditch alcohol and bubbly drinks. The air bubbles will only puff you up more so avoid these drinks and aim for water instead. If you are not a fan of plain Jane water, add some fruit to your water for natural flavor.
  • Balance your hormones. Although I mentioned above that there isn’t quite much that can be done during your period to help with bloating, it is always helpful to get your hormones checked if you feel something isn’t right. This can be done via a simple blood test from your doctor.
  • Figuring out your sensitivities. The best way to do this is through a DNA or genetic test. (23&Me )Make sure you get the health panel included-not just the ancestry test. Find out what foods trigger you and omit them from your diet. Gluten is normally the main one, but others such as soy, dairy, etc can also bother some people.
  • Prioritize potassium. Potassium is a mineral that plays a key role in cell function, including regulating fluid balance. Potassium-rich foods can help counteract the effects of sodium and ease bloating. Reach for avocado, banana, sweet potato, pumpkin, tomatoes, leafy greens, oranges, and cantaloupe,
  • Look for foods with a diuretic effect.Certain foods have a mild diuretic effect. Asparagus is a particularly powerful bloat-fighting food, thanks to amino acid asparagine. It’s also a potent source of antioxidant glutathione, which has been noted for its detoxifying effect.Some other great diuretic foods include citrus, celery, beets, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Soothe your system.Certain foods can help soothe the digestive system so you experience smoother digestion and less inflammation. A few great picks:
  • Fennel is high in potassium and has been used in Eastern medicine to reduce post-meal digestive spasms—key factors in gas buildup and bloating. It contains a phytonutrient called anethole, which has also been studied for its ability to help fight inflammation in the body.
  • Ginger’s stomach-calming, anti-inflammatory effects have made it a go-to remedy for thousands of years to ease GI discomfort.
  • Papaya is packed with potassium and also contains an enzyme called papain that facilitates digestion and may calm gas and bloating.
  • Parsley has also been highlighted for its diuretic effect and digestive-soothing properties.
  • Peppermint is another stomach-soothing herb that eases digestion.
  • Scope out superfoods.
    • Cucumber is an anti-bloat superfood, thanks to the silica, caffeic acid, and vitamin C in there, all of which help reduce swelling and discourage water retention.
    • Kiwi contains a compound called actinidin, which supports healthy digestion. Kiwifruit is also rich in potassium.
    • Rosemary is an herb with powerful antioxidant properties that has been used for thousands of years to treat digestive ailments.

Anti-inflammatory foods that calm the stress response can help keep things calm in your digestive tract too. A few great ones to reach for:

  • Berries are packed with antioxidants that help fight disease and inflammation.
  • Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids that fight inflammation. Aim for over 70 percent cacao to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
  • Eggs, aside from providing protein, fat, and vitamin A, contain zeaxanthin and lutein, two potent carotenoids that help fight inflammation.
  • Hemp seeds provide heart-healthy fats and even a little protein. Look for shelled hemp seeds, often called "hemp hearts."
  • Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have also been studied extensively for their anti-inflammatory benefit. For example, consuming adequate levels of omega-3 and supplementation with fish oil has been associated with reduced levels of cortisol, everyone’s favorite stress hormone, which has a mean tendency to encourage belly fat.
  • Turmeric has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. The curcumin is the active component shown to have such powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

You don't have to swear off dairy.

Probiotic bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir promote good digestion and fight swelling and inflammation. I often recommend kefir because it’s almost lactose-free, making it easier to digest if you’re sensitive to dairy. Just stick with plain to sidestep sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Not into it? Consider a probiotic supplement with multiple types of bacteria in it. They each do slightly different things, so you’ll cover multiple bases rather than if you were to stick with straight-up acidophilus, lactobacillus, etc.