Read last week’s article on the causes of bloating, to get an idea of what could be the cause if you are suffering with bloating on a regular basis. This week’s article contains strategies to help reduce bloating. Sometimes it might be a case of trial and error, so you may need to try more than one solution until you find the right one for you.
1. Reduce Stress
Stress slows down your digestive system. If you think stress could be contributing to bloating or other digestive symptoms, try the following:
- Eat in a relaxed environment whenever possible
- Avoid eating on the move or at your desk
- Don’t read or watch TV while eating – eat mindfully focusing your attention on the food
- Get moving – exercise reduces stress and improves digestion
- Read more advice on stress reduction here
2. Get Your Digestion Moving
If you are feeling blocked up or things are not moving as quickly as they should, try this:
- Drink 2 litres of water a day – essential to keeping things moving.
- Increase your fibre intake – 7 fruit and veg per day, plenty of wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds
- Include soluble fibre – oats, barley, rye, apples, pears, chia seeds, flaxseeds
- Avoid refined carbohydrates – white bread, white rice etc.
- Get moving – movement is essential to help the muscles of the gut contract.
3. Do You Have Low Stomach Acid?
Low stomach acid may be a cause of incomplete protein digestion and bloating. If you think it might be an issue for you, follow these steps:
- Try to have 5-10 minutes of calm before meal, smell and look at your food, as this sends signals to your brain start producing stomach acid ready for the incoming meal
- Chew your food thoroughly (aim for 30 chews per mouthful)
- Drink hot water with lemon and ginger in the mornings to stimulate your digestive system
- Take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water before meals
4. Produce More Digestive Enzymes
If you are not producing enough of these important enzymes, you will not be digesting your food properly. Try this and see if your symptoms improve:
- Include pineapple, papaya, fennel, ginger and cayenne pepper, which increase levels of digestive enzymes.
- Avoid raw food, which is difficult to digest, stick to cooked veg, soups and stews instead of salads to allow the digestive system to rest and replenish enzyme levels.
5. Know Your Food Intolerances
You can try to identify problem foods on your own, or ideally work with a nutritionist if possible:
- Keep a food diary for a few weeks to identify links between particular foods and your symptoms
- Avoid suspect foods for 3-4 weeks and see if symptoms improve
- Speak to a nutritionist for further advice and help
6. Feed Your Gut Bacteria
If you think yours may be out of balance, try feeding the good guys by doing the following:
- Include natural live yoghurt daily, which contains probiotics (good bacteria). Try soya or coconut if avoiding dairy.
- Add some fermented foods to your diet such as sauerkraut
- Add prebiotic foods, which feed the good guys – artichoke, asparagus, onions, garlic and chicory
- Reduce your sugar intake, as sugar feeds the bad guys
- Click here for further information on supporting gut bacteria
Here is my ‘day after’ plan to follow after a day (or two!) of overindulging:
On Waking – warm water with lemon & grated ginger – stimulates the digestion
Breakfast – Cleansing Smoothie: ½ avocado, ¼ cucumber, 1 large handful of spinach, 1 handful of blueberries and a large slice of papaya. Cleansing and nourishing, high in antioxidants and the papaya aids digestion.
Mid-morning – an apple – the soluble fibre helps clear out your digestive system and keeps you full
Lunch – vegetable soup – giving your digestive system a rest from solid food to help it recuperate
After Lunch – take a 20-30 minute brisk walk – aids digestion and detoxification
Mid-Afternoon: Beauty & Go Detox – cleanses your body and digestive system and flushes out toxins
Dinner – salmon, 2-3 tbsp cooked brown rice and broccoli with coriander, lemon juice and ginger
After Dinner – take another brisk walk
Bedtime – peppermint tea
Over the day – 2 litres of water
- Papaya – contains the enzyme papain which helps digest proteins in your digestive system, also has a mild laxative effect
- Pineapple – like papaya contains enzymes which aid digestion
- Live yoghurt – contains probiotic ‘friendly’ bacteria. Try coconut or soya if dairy is a problem
- Asparagus – a natural diuretic, meaning it helps reduce water retention. Also a prebiotic, feeding those good bacteria.
- Ginger – a great digestive aid, soothes the digestive system and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, which can relieve bloating
- Cucumbers – known for reducing puffy eyes, they can do the same for the stomach! Rich in quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant that helps reduce swelling.
- Water is essential to keeping things moving through properly and also (oddly!) reduces water retention
- Brown rice – easiest to digest of all grains, non-irritating to the gut
- Peppermint tea – relaxes the muscles of the gut and helps dissipate gas
Beauty & Go Detox – contains cucumber to reduce puffiness, digestive aids artichoke and dandelion and detoxifying spirulina. The combination of ingredients helps flush out toxins, improves digestion and reduces bloating. Drink 1 daily for the best results.
- Eating too fast – this reduces the effectiveness of your digestion, which starts in the mouth with enzymes in saliva and the breaking down of food by chewing
- Fizzy Drinks – the gassy bubbles lead to bloating
- Artificial Sweeteners – cannot be absorbed, so pass into the colon where they cause bloating
- Salt – leads to water retention, which makes you feel more bloated
- Fruit for pudding – eating fruit at the end of a meal can cause bloating, so enjoy at the start of the meal or between meals as a snack
- Probiotic shots, drinks and flavoured yoghurts – these are full of sugar and sometimes artificial flavourings, so stick to live, natural preferably organic yoghurt