Beat the Bloat! 5 Natural Remedies.
Bloating. That oh-so uncomfortable feeling in the gut. Often it rears its ugly head after a large meal. Or a small meal. Or a snack. Or...
How can we figure out what’s causing it? Perhaps you already have some wise de-bloating habits like avoiding foods you know give you gas. But that’s not completely solving the problem.
So, what gives??
Well, bloating is common. Up to 25-30% of people experience it regularly. The symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.
Ultimately, bloating is a gas by-product of your digestive tract which can be caused from various sources.
Although food intolerances are one of the key factors of digestive upset, the #1 cause of bloating is an imbalance in your digestive tract bacteria (ie. gut flora). An imbalance in your digestive tract not only will often give you digestive discomforts (gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, etc) but with 80% of our immune system residing in our gut an imbalance can throw off your entire body if left long enough. To find out more about why it's important to heal your gut, check out this post I wrote on improving gut health here.
Doing a digestive cleanse (my Candida Crush cleanse targets this specifically) is the best way to reduce gas and bloating. The purpose of the cleanse is to remove any unwanted bacteria (yeast/candida) as well as any parasites which can increase your bloating.
I love doing my Candia Cleanse every year to reset my digestive system and boost my entire health for the new year. Want to join me in January for a cleanse? Interested in more info on the Candida Cleanse? Check out this short video I put together on a deeper understanding of the root cause of gas and bloating and how it can be affecting you in ways you’re not aware.
In the meantime, the following list are ideas you can add in to help reduce the bloating, gas, and burping starting now!
1 – Eat slower, more mindfully, and less stressed
Although this might seem simple, it can have a huge effect on your symptoms. Eating too fast isn’t doing your digestive system any favors. Eating slowly allows the first step of digestion to actually take place: mastication! The chewing of your food not only breaks food down into smaller pieces making it easier to further break down once swallowed, but it also releases your salivary enzymes which start to break down the macro-molecules of your food (the proteins, carbs, and fats).
You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savour them!
The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. When you’re stressed, your body diverts its energy from the less important things like digestion into the more important things like your muscles and heart. This happens because the stresses feeling we get is supposed to be triggered during a time of crisis – like when we’re running to save our lives from a bear.
When our rest + digest process is turned off from stress, our food will take a lot longer to digest, allowing for excess gasses to be produced as well as some foods will start to ferment (like fruits) creating even more gas!!
Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. A simple tip I like to use is to take 5 deep belly breaths just before I start to eat. I breathe in for 4 counts, hold my breath for 4 counts, and breath our for 4 counts. This tells my body to relax and allows the digestive system to run effectively. This only takes 80 seconds but can significantly help improve digestion. No matter how busy you are, I’m sure you can take 80 seconds to breathe! :)
Longer term, doing a daily (or even weekly) meditation is helpful for stress management.
2 – Don’t overeat
If you’re employing rule # 1 of eating slower, the chances of you over eating are significantly decreased. You’ll be much more in-tune with how much food you’ve eaten and how you’re feeling.
Of course, if you do overeat at a meal, then you’ll most likely feel bloated and feel more pressure in your abdomen. Optimal digestion in the stomach occurs when it’s 1/3 full of digestive juices, 1/3 full of food, and 1/3 full of air. This allows for enough space for your food to be churned, and further broken down by our stomach acid.
When we consume large volumes, we’re giving our digestive system a hard time and everything moves slower. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. If you’re always ravenous before your meals, grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to so that you don’t over-eat in one sitting.
3 - Avoid swallowing air
Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Of course, eating too quickly will increase the amount of air we swallow, but even if you’re eating slowly and mindfully we can still get extra air in our system. Things like carbonated drinks can be the biggest culprit in these cases.
You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.
4- 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, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods.
Although not everyone gets bloated from sugar alcohols, some people do. If you’re following all the above tips, have healed your gut flora, and avoid any food sensitivities you might have but you’re still getting bloated? Sugar alcohols might be to blame. Try avoiding them and see if that helps you.
5 - Try peppermint
Peppermint essential oil has been shown to improve bloating and ease the digestive tract. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile.
You can steep fresh peppermint leaves or a peppermint tea bag and drinking it slowly to get some relief.
My personal favorite is to use the actual essential oil of the peppermint leaf. You can make a tea with the oil or even use a digestive oil combination. My personal favorite digestive essential oil is a blend by doTERRA called ZenGest (aka Digestzen). I just apply it topically on my stomach and feel instant relief!
ZenGest/DigestZen is a combination of Anise Seed, Peppermint Plant, Ginger Root, Caraway Seed, Coriander Seed, Tarragon Plant, and Fennel Seed essential oils which are all proven as digestive aids. You can read more about it here: DigestZen Product Info.
If you’re interested in trying this essential oil blend out I have some free samples available as well as full bottles available for sale in my office.
As you can see, there are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.
First step would be to have your food sensitivities tested and to make sure to heal any underlying inflammation or bacterial imbalances in your digestive tract.
Eating more mindfully and reducing stress, try not to overeat, reduce how much air you swallow, and avoiding sugar alcohols are all helpful.
If you find that you’re just struggling to break down your food and still have gas and bloating regardless of the above, a full spectrum digestive enzyme can also be very helpful. Look for ones that have multiple types of enzymes as the ingredients (lipase, protease, amylase, cellulase, etc). I’m a big fan of the V-Enzymes by Genestra as well as the Terrazymes from doTERRA.
I’ve also put together a list of the Top 10 Foods to Avoid and Top 10 Food to Include to Beat the Bloat. You can download the list HERE.
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